16 April 2007

Debriefing for Match 12.02: Kansas City Wizards


Six Word Novel Recap

Two weeks to get it right.

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Washington Post, Steve Goff: "The Kansas City Wizards tore apart United's defense for three first-half goals, including a pair in the first eight minutes, and claimed a 4-2 victory last night..."
The Washington Times, John Haydon: "The game started off fast with three goals in the first 11 minutes -- two by Kansas City. The Wizards -- playing in their season opener -- clearly looked like the fresher of the two teams. "
MLSNet, Charles Boehm: "...the real backbreaker came in first-half injury time. After working their way back into the match with well-taken goals from Luciano Emilio and Christian Gomez, United surrendered possession deep in their own end and Eddie Johnson was on hand to restore K.C.'s advantage and kill the home side's hard-won momentum."
Ben Olsen's Beard: "Things like websites devoted to defenders and nicknames on the back of jerseys become a lot less humorous and necessary when you can't seem to stop anyone from scoring on you."
BlackDogRed: "
Maybe staying mysteriously entranced to a formation United doesn't have the personnel to play isn't such a good idea."
Soccer Insider, Steve Goff: "
What happened to Brian Carroll?...This team is not good right now."
An American's View..., Brian Garrison: "Two weeks and we will see if Coach Soehn can make any adjustments for the current problems. It took United six matches last season to give up 6 goals, this year, we did it in two. Something needs to be re-tooled."
Down the Byline: "Eddie Johnson showed the type of player he can be tonight, he was strong on the ball, fast, attacking players, beating players one on one, passing well, and finishing."
The Offside: Kansas City Wizards: "Eddie Johnson has now doubled his assist total from last season and is one off his total number of goals."

The Good

  1. Luciano Goal Streak: They go in the net. That's fine with me.
  2. Fred: Here's what I saw from Fred on Saturday night that makes me hopeful -- On at least two occasions, he fought through some tight marking to keep possession and manufacture offense. That's good stuff right there. However, that's not a skill as important to a wing player as it is to a more centrally located midfielder. Which Fred is, and so concerns about wing depth remain.
  3. Midfield possession: Much improved from last week, though you wouldn't think to know it. Players were making smart runs, checking back to balls, and generally playing with space better. There was improvement there which was masked by results. What we can't do yet is switch the ball from the defensive wing to the opposing midfield wing. Those long, aerial balls were neatly picked off, and they're usually low percentage passes. Let's not try that for a bit.
  4. Moreno/Gomez/Emilio: Worked much better as a team this game. I see people are giving Moreno some crap, but he was tracking back quite a bit to move things forward. Personally, I thought this was an average, and therefore good, game from Jamie.

The Bad

  1. Defense: The backline seems to have forgotten how to play to their own strengths. Either Namoff or Erpen can play dangerously high, not both at the same time. Boswell needs to keep attackers in front of him, but took too many chances at around 25 yards out (to his credit, his last ten minutes seemed to recognize this. To his detriment, this was after Eddie Johnson left the game.) Erpen was awkward and still can't distribute. He's at his best when he positions more centally and forces players out to the wing, where he can deal with them. When he's as far to the flank as he was, he can let people in behind him. We'll not talk about slipping, since that's just one-of-those-things, but the positioning for the entire line was ridiculous. Yes, Perkins should have saved the first goal. He probably should have stopped one other as well, the only one he gets a pass on is the fourth. And when you're excusing the keeper for one of four, that's not a good place to be.
  2. 3-5-2: Interesting fact: If you interpret that as a math equation, you get -4, the precise number of goals we allowed. I think I was wrong about this and everyone else in the world was right: We can't play this formation until we get our fundamentals back. Time to think about some changes, be it Wilson, Gros, or McTavish.
  3. Execution, Execution, Execution: In my mind, the outcome of every game depends on four things: Talent, Effort, Execution, and Luck. United has the talent, and I don't think I saw any players out there lolly-gagging or not giving it their all. The effort was there as well. However, they didn't execute. I wanted clean passing, especially in the rain, and we didn't get it. Execution depends on things like positioning and focus, both of which would come and go with the wind. We were a bit unlucky, but no more so than any other team. And if execution is a problem, that's to me a bit of comfort, since execution can be improved through coaching. Mr. Soehn, it's time for an early test of your abilities to get a team together.

Man of the Match


Final Thoughts

Longtime readers of this blog know that I think the primary goal of the regular season is the Supporter's Shield. We also know that it takes somewhere between 1.9 and 2.0 points a game to win the Supporter's Shield, and to be safe we usually think of it at 2 points a game. What that means is that each loss must be offset by two consecutive wins to be competitive to ensure that trophy. With these first two losses, United must now win its next four games in order to be on something resembling a Supporter's Shield pace. That's May 19th, over a month away. As such, there will be at least a one month moratorium on any thoughts of United being one of the better teams in the league right now. We can reevaluate at that point, but right now United must show something.

There are other things we should talk about, but with two weeks we'll have plenty of time. In two weeks I hope we'll see a crisper, stronger team. If not, this could be a long, mediocre (or worse) season. It's not time to panic, but it's naive not be concerned.

Labels: , , , , ,


At 16 April, 2007 11:00, Blogger Sean said...

This isn't about the game, per se, as my ability to analyze soccer is still limited to my ability to analyze my own FIFA 2006 performance on X-Box.

But as a first-time DCU game-goer, I wanted to thank you and all the other Screaming Eagles that made me feel at home at RFK. I /never/ thought I would jump and sing and scream, but I did. I'm sure the booze had something to do with it, but the wonderful people and great atmosphere was a lot of it, too.

So thanks to you, Amanda, Rob and Ruthie, Joanna (who actually roped me into this) and everyone else I ran into and whose names I promptly forgot. The 3.5 hour drive to DC makes it hard to come to /every/ game, but I am sure I'll be back to some.

After all, I can't support the Pink Cows.

- A new DCU fan

At 16 April, 2007 11:28, Anonymous bdr said...

Two days after, what I keep coming back to:

If you had told me four weeks ago an away game in late April in Columbus could be utterly crucial to the entire season, I would have thought you were joking.

At 16 April, 2007 12:43, Anonymous matt w said...

Emilio / Fred
Gros / Gomez / Casal*
Namoff / Boswell / Erpen / Wilson

*or whoever emerges out of the morass that is the competition for outside mid.

Really, with our team speed being what it is now, we'd be much better off with a 4-5-3. Stupid rules.

At 16 April, 2007 14:26, Blogger Kinney said...

JIM MORA VOICE: What's that? Supporters Shield? Don't talk about-- Supporters Shield? You kidding me? Supporters Sheild? I just hope we can win a game!

At 16 April, 2007 15:26, Anonymous haveyouseenlucky said...

Hey, I just started watching because I thought I should start supporting the local club. I found you from my friend DC Sports Chick.

Have they always played in that formation? What could anyone have possibly said bad about Moreno? he looked like one of the few people who knew what he was doing out there. Why did they take Erpen out? If they wanted to put Fred in it seemed to me that they should have taken out Namoff who looked just woeful all game long. (what was he doing way back there by himself on that breakaway goal?)

I probably don't know what I'm talking about as I don't have any perpective on MLS at all.

At 16 April, 2007 17:44, Blogger D said...

Sean: Nice to see you there. And hope to see you again.

Matt W: Honestly, it's a nice dream...

Lucky: Piotr Nowak really made the 3-5-2 his formation of choice, though he did experiment occasionally with a 4-4-3/4-5-1 hybrid. I've seen Moreno comments that tend toward the typical (and occasionally thoughts I've shared, just not in this game) that he didn't shoot enough, or got gassed too soon. And don't worry about not knowing what you're talking about: The secret is that no one, including the major media, knows either.

At 16 April, 2007 19:18, Anonymous haveyouseenlucky said...

Yeah, I noticed that about the commentators. At the risk of sounding smarmy they didn't seem very good. I had to rewind on the DVR to find out who made assists or whose turnover led to the score because the fox soccer channel just didn't seem interested in sharing that information with me. I guess when I sat down and tuned in, I expected it would be just like watching the EPL, which it wasn't.

Not worse, just different, but I'm going to stick with it, gotta support the local stuff right? That's what's great about soccer.

Anyhow, regarding Moreno, I didn't see any great shots that he passed up, maybe a few "shoot and pray" opportunities, and I really think they need four at the back, especially so Erpen can play up safely cause he looks sharp (from what little I've seen)

At 17 April, 2007 02:06, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am I alone in thinking that Erpen could possibly move up to be a flank midfielder? He's struck me since the beginning as more of a midfielder than a defender, especially with how much he obviously likes to attack.

Plus, while his defending is sometimes suspect for a defender, it's adequate for a midfielder, and he's pretty decent on the attack and at crossing, if I remember correctly.

(This is based on last season, as I'm currently on the other side of the world and unable to watch until July.)


At 17 April, 2007 07:47, Anonymous matt w said...

Anon, imho, the last thing we need is to further deplete our defender corps. Erpen might be best situated as a (not *the*) central defender, where his dribbling and passing skills might be more useful and his footspeed and anticipation less conspicuous.

Of course, part of the problem on the back line seems to be the awful communication between Boz and Erpen, which makes me wonder how well they'd do working together in the middle.

It's kind of rare at the professional level these days, but the sweeper/libero position might be the best use of Erpen's skills -- he is pretty decent on the ball, after all, and is pretty good with both short and long passes.

At 18 April, 2007 21:41, Blogger mojo said...

Ben Olsen is playing much too high. If United is going to stay in the 3-5-2 Olsen and Carrol must stay home. Pulling Olsen back will also give give Gomez, Moreno, and Fred more touches in attack.


Post a Comment

<< Return to The DCenters Main Page (HOME)