21 March 2007

Uplifted

I detect a certain degree of resignation among a subset of D.C. United fans regarding the CONCACAF Champion's Cup. The 1-1 draw with Chivas at RFK has led many to believe that the defeat in Mexico is inevitable, and that DC's best hopes are to avoid a complete humiliation. I can understand this, but it's wrong. The Anxious Auxiliary Brigades are quick to point out that 1-1 was the result after the RFK leg with UNAM Pumas, an uncomfortable prelude to a 5-0 beat-down. History, it seems, would dictate these worries.

Readers of the DCenters know a few things: First, we don't believe that large margins of victories in single games are true indicators of talent so much as multiple small margins of victory. Five-nil is definitely within the fluke classification. Second, we don't believe that history is determinant. Just as people will be quick to say "Those that do not study history are bound to repeat it" people seem just as quick to equate that to "I've studied history, and this is what has happened, so this is what will happen." That second statement of historical determinism is bullshit of the highest order. Things change. DC doesn't lose in knockout competitions to MLS Teams. Unless it is the Chicago Fire. Until it was New England. Similarly, on the reverse side, DC is not doomed because of some macro-historical pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo.

Let me ask you a question, those of you that watched the Chivas match either on-screen or in-person: Did you feel that D.C. United looked bad because they weren't playing as well as they could, or because Chivas was so much better that D.C. looked bad in comparison?

I personally feel that many of the problems in the Chivas match were not caused so much by Chivas, but rather by United. That's not to say that Chivas wasn't a skilled team, and didn't cause United problems. But I didn't feel like I was looking at a team destined to play United off the pitch. DC made DC look bad more than Chivas did (although Chivas played their part.)

All this is saying that I think United can play a better game in Guadalajara. Of course, they may well play a better game and see Chivas step their game up a notch or two as well. But it's not set in stone that this is a repeat of the 2005 Pumas second leg. The forces of history are not necessarily a match for Ben Olsen.

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8 Comments:

At 21 March, 2007 11:19, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed, I felt exactly the same way while watching the match. Chivas had to foul relentlessly in the middle, and get an own goal to tie United when we were playing badly. They are a good side, but not a great one. They knew what moves to make to come out with at least a point, as did we. Honestly both sides played pretty poor, and I feel the second leg will be much more interesting. I'd like to predict a United upset, but I am wary of jinxing them... Also, outside of the location, who is to say that a United win in the second leg is an upset? I'm sorry, but I for one have yet to see anything from this Chivas side that leads me to believe that they are any better a club than DC United.

 
At 21 March, 2007 11:42, Blogger Brian said...

As I said on my site, I wasn't that impressed with Chivas. Maybe they were holding back, who knows. On a dry pitch, a focused DC United can take it to the Chivas team I saw at RFK. I like our chances.

 
At 21 March, 2007 13:25, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watched Chivas again in the "Super Classico" against America. They were very vulnerable to the counter. Their goalie was frequently out of position and their defenders were caught on their heels quite a few times when America pushed the ball up quickly. If we can figure out a way to get Gomez into the action more (maybe with Fred), I think we can give them a game.

 
At 21 March, 2007 14:26, Blogger The Manly Ferry said...

"But I didn't feel like I was looking at a team destined to play United off the pitch."

I think that's a good perspective on this, though, player-to-player, I'd say Chivas is a better team. But that's about the end of it. DC can beat them; that I don't doubt.

But the corrollary to that looms pretty large as well. And, in the grand scheme, don't you think it's more likely to happen? I'd put the odds of a Chivas win at home at 4-1 (as in, if these teams played ten times, Chivas would win 8 of the encounters).

 
At 21 March, 2007 14:47, Blogger D said...

Right. We have a chance. I wouldn't go so far as to say we're favored, but, I'm more optimistic than Ferry. I say the odds are more like 3:2, or perhaps 3:1.

 
At 21 March, 2007 15:21, Blogger Kinney said...

3:1 or 4:1 sounds about right to me. I thought it was about 50/50 DC not playing well and Chivas taking them out of their game.

 
At 21 March, 2007 18:13, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone had to be the first U.S. National side to beat Mexico...and someone has to be the first U.S. club side to beat a Mexican club. The former (once seemingly impossible) proposition is now routine, and someday the latter (seemingly impossible) proposition will be so as well.

Who wants to make history?

 
At 22 March, 2007 04:10, Anonymous Matt Y said...

Anyone who thinks that DC has no chance doesn't know anything about soccer...

Chivas are a very good team...they are clearly the best team in Mexico right now.

I have no idea why Brian wasn't impressed with them, unless he was comparing them to Man U and Chelsea. Also, the lost to America because Ochoa went insane. Chivas easily deserved a draw or a win and were stopped by fantastic goalkeeping.

DC United is the best team in the United States...which I think will be quite clear this coming season.

Chivas are a better team and DC United is good enough to beat them if things go right.

A mexican friend of mine (america fan so he's not too biased!) likened DC United to teams like Pumas and Tigres. Not top 3-4 mexican league teams...but definite playoff contenders and teams that can hang with Chivas.

I thought that was a huge compliment for DC and shows how DC is winning respect for themselves and the MLS.

The first match was a combo of weather, teams feeling each other out, DC in preseason + Chivas maybe distracted by the Superclasico...and another point that maybe no one else has thought of....

Chivas and DC play pretty much the same system....I KNOW that DC doesn't play against teams that play a 3-4-1-2...and while Chivas do....it's not near as often.

Plus, Chivas are not accustomed to teams attacking them full on...they are feared in Mexico and teams sit back more.

Neither team could really get comfortable.

I expect a great match, and if DC plays well they will have a chance.

 

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