04 June 2007

Debriefing for Match 12.08: At LA Galaxy

LA Galaxy 0 : 0 D.C. United

Six Word Novel Recap

Good teams get wins, not draws.

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Washington Post, Steve Goff: "Lacking the offensive personality of recent weeks, United (3-3-2) was fortunate not to fall behind by multiple goals in the first half. Play improved after the break, but the club still rarely tested goalkeeper Joe Cannon and had to endure a few late scares before settling for the draw in front of a quiet crowd of 21,069 at Home Depot Center."
The L.A. Times, Grahame Jones: "A mere 1:21 into the match, Donovan flashed a diagonal shot just wide of the left post off a pass from Nathan Sturgis. Less than three minutes later, Cobi Jones got behind the D.C. United defense on the right and sent in an on-the-money cross, but Jaqua skied it into the stands from six yards."
Long Beach Press-Telegram, Phil Collin: "Jaqua had another chance with a header when he outleaped goalkeeper Troy Perkins, but his effort floated over the crossbar and harmlessly onto the top of the net."
Associated Press (via The Examiner): "Cannon's biggest save came in the 58th minute, when he caught Luciano Emilio's line-drive header from 8 yards between his ankles."
MLSNet, Greg Daurio: "DC continued to press, and in the 62nd minute Moreno crossed the ball into the area, finding Fred lurking on the back post. The Brazilian headed the ball down and back in the direction it came from, but his effort bounced in the goal area and wide of the target."
MLSNet, Luis Bueno: "...although United controlled the possession and had six shots on goal, the Galaxy could have put the game away on several occasions."
MLSnet, Greg Daurio: "Jaqua was willing to take a bit of the blame for the result against D.C. The frustration for all the forwards was obvious following the match, and Jaqua was no exception."
Poplar Point Perspective: "...Add 'em all up and you get? A scoreless draw which wasn't even as exciting as the scoreline would indicate."
BlackDogRed: "I don't want to hear about the shut out. If Brian Ching had finished a fifth of his chances last week and Nate Jaqua had finished a tenth of his last night, United is on a two game losing streak. What's distressing is that United may be burning all it's good luck on mediocrity. The defense is broken and, barring Devon McTavish recovering from injury and turning into Fabio Cannavero, it isn't going to be fixed. And Juan Pablo Angel doesn't seem likely to miss his ducks."
Soccer Insider, Steve Goff: "I think it's safe to say that, come September (or even next week, for that matter), no one on either team or in the stands will remember this match even took place. "
The Edgell Supporters: "I am not sure you can say that we did anything to the Galaxy. We kind of left each other alone."
Sideline Views, Andrea Canales: "He's got Jaquaitis. Run, save yourself."
The Offside: LA Galaxy: "
I was actually kind of amazed by the draw given the number of players we’re missing."
Who Ate All the Cupcakes?: "That's it, we end scoreless. The FSE announcers agreed that it was a very good game, it just lacked a goal. I agree. I thought DC was the slightly better team, but they didn't do enough to win. Entertaining match to watch though..." [NOTE: Really? I am stunned a neutral would feel like this. Sure, there were some chances, but overall I thought the game was rather dreary. Interesting that a neutral would feel otherwise]

ALSO: Screaming Eagles Podcast (which features an interview with Mr. Kpene. Get on it!)

The Good

  1. Clean Sheet: Noted, simply so I can get it out of the way.
  2. Workrate: Everyone on this team is working and sweating. I can't fault the effort that is being put out there. Execution is still a problem, but I don't feel like this is a team that is sleep walking through the games. Yes, I know Moreno is conserving energy, but that's because he has to in order to go the full 90, which Tommy Soehn seemed to want him to do.
  3. Professionalism: It is worth nothing that LA was playing a lot of tugging, grabbing football, but that United was playing through it. My normal complaint with DC's possession game is that it never leads to anything, but here I thought it was used well in order to try and free up the game. We played calmly, smoothly, and errant passes were made on LA's side of the field rather than our own (aside from Namoff's giveaway in the fifth minute). That's good.
  4. Luciano Emilio: I noticed him this game. That's good. He snapped in a great header, sadly right at the keeper, and he was playing well with his back to goal at times. After Houston, I wondered if he just wasn't adapting to the US Game. I now think he is.
  5. The Simms Adjustment: Credit has to be given to Tommy Soehn for abandoning an experiment that wasn't working before it did more damage, but I think Clyde Simms deserves special recognition for sliding into the holding midfield slot so quickly. He had spent time preparing to be the Right Back, but instead found himself after fifteen minutes playing a position that Carroll and Olsen have occupied for most the year. And he played decently. Kudos.

The Bad

  1. Self-Service wings: I did not change this title from the Houston game, because it is still true. Even after Gros was moved to left back there was still far too much time on the wings. Was it better than the Houston match? Maybe a little. But not good enough.
  2. Center Back Troy Perkins: I do love the way Perkins controls the box, but I think he overextended himself this match. Twice he was out of the box to play the ball as a field player, heading it away or kicking it up the sideline. That's fine when a player looks to be coming through, but on at least one occasion I thought he had more defensive help than he knew, and I would have preferred he stayed at home. The "Boswell Tackle" save was at least in part because Perkins was way off his line in a situation where it would have been difficult to get the ball short of pulling the Pat Onstad maneuver (See: HOU-FCD, yesterday).

Man of the Match

I can't justify a man of the match to anyone, but I will give merit awards to Perkins (for all the other things he did right, and the save), Boswell, Erpen, Simms, and Fred.

Final Thoughts

I think I would be more upset about this game, as many, many of you are, if I hadn't felt like a draw was in the cards before the game started. But once I put that aside, I can understand where the frustration comes from. There are so many things that winning games would help soothe, but right now they chafe at the mind. A short list:
  1. We signed several offensive weapons, but haven't seen more than two goals in any game this year.
  2. We've been worried about defensive depth for awhile, but the word out of the front office was "we're happy with out options." Now in the past week come the stories of DC's options being a converted forward and Clyde Simms. While conversions can work, it isn't something I want to hang my hat on.
  3. LA is as bad as they're going to be this season, and we couldn't get a win, and in fact we could have looked very, very silly.
  4. New York, Kansas City, and New England are going to be tough to catch this year, even if they beat each other up.
Yet despite all of that, I feel that things can click. There are teams you look at and think "Damn, they're hopeless." Then there are teams where you can see how things can fall into place, and the team could go on a great run. United is the latter at this point. While things aren't running smoothly, perhaps it is best that United is grinding out results. To be utterly despondent right now is to think that United with its current personnel are playing as well as they can play. I still don't think that. I think this team can click at some point, and be a top team. They aren't there yet, and that's obvious. Am I looking at this with rose-tinted glasses? No, because while I think this team can go on a great run, that doesn't mean that a great run is guaranteed, or wouldn't be derailed by something like two starting defenders being called into Copa America.

Also, in the comments on First Impressions there's an interesting back and forth on Tommy Soehn. Let me say this. Just as I wasn't in the "Fire Soehn" camp when we were winless doesn't mean I'm in the "Soehn is the Answer" camp either. He hasn't done a bad job, and while I feel like there are games we haven't lost because of his managing, I'm not sure I can say there's been a game we've won because he out-managed anyone. He has saved points, but I'm not sure how many he's earned. Which means that Soehn is certainly worthy of consideration and debate. I certainly am watching. He did the right thing in this game after it started, and in more games than he's done the wrong thing. That's something. But he also put out the lineup that was victimized for a quarter of an hour. That's something else. For now, I give him some confidence, but not blind "Tommy must have a plan" devotion. That takes some silverware to earn.

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At 04 June, 2007 11:15, Anonymous diego r. said...

can you remember a less exciting 5 game unbeaten streak?

I still think things are fine. As long as we stay in the middle of the table / in the playoff picture while we are figuring things out (aka: Moreno, wide midfielders, defense) then things will be okay. I would actually kind of welcome a late season peak, in the tradition of the New England Revolution.

At 04 June, 2007 13:19, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that this team is not playing up to its ability, so there is hope. The problem is that they have not played up to their ability yet this season, despite what, eight games and two bye weeks? I don't think Soehn is able to raise this team to their maximum ability. I am officially on the "Fire Soehn Bandwagon", although I will be perfectly happy to eat extra helpings of crow if he manages to turn things around.

I also can't see why Soehn should get credit for changing the monster he himself created (the Namoff at left back monster, that is). It was painfully obvious to a guy (me) who has no experience playing organized soccer that this was a disaster. I would hope that the professional coach who created that line-up would notice it. No credit is due there except to note that Soehn is willing to admit a horrible error when he makes one.

At 04 June, 2007 16:14, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Kevin Payne needs to take a bit of heat for not getting the right players in the off-season especially, on the wings and defense. I'm still trying to rationalize why DC drafted another holding midfielder when they already have 3. The team has virtually no width, though Fred has helped as well as Casal but there are no real options at left full back.

The only true left back on the roster is Wilson and after his 2pks in 2 minutes debacle at RSL last year I can't say I'm ready to see him on the field anytime soon.
I give Soehn credit for realizing that Gros doesn't have the goods to play at left back and decided to switch the line-up around to compensate. It didn't work and hasn't worked. Teams are brutalizing us on that side.

I'm a Gros supporter, who couldn't be, the guy works his butt off game after game but the truth of the matter is he's not a strong defender and he can't cross. Two key ingredients for someone trying to play that position.

I think it's time Kevin Payne and the DC management stops "buying off the rack" as Goff put it and splash some cash on a quality left full back, another forward who could also play out wide and a veteran center back. If we don't get at least 2 of the 3 I feel DC might as well forget about any silverware this season.

As far as left full back I say it's time to use one of those designated player slots and try to bring in Roberto Carlos, I believe he can leave Real at the end of the season on a free transfer. Sure he's not as fast as he use to be but I can't think of a right sided winger in MLS that would trouble him to much, Sir Becks included.

Having him and Gomez standing over the ball on free kicks would be worth admission in and of it's self. Plus it would be fun to see him do his little samba dance with he's fellow countrymen after goals. So I say Roberto to DC now!!!

Shaunny B

At 04 June, 2007 17:16, Blogger D said...

Diego R.: Not since 2004 Columbus...

Anon @13.19: The reason Soehn gets credit is because so few coaches try something and then are willing to cut their losses to adapt technically, instead preferring to believe things will magically change for the better. Soehn gets credit because he recognized the error, which was admittedly his error, but he manned up and changed it.

Anon-Shaunny: I agree that there has to be some concern and worry that the Payne approach isn't working. At the same time, I wonder if DC didn't feel like perhaps a year was needed to evaluate the impact of the D. Player spot in order to determine how to best make use of it. In that sense, I still feel like this is a rebuilding year (yes, we can still win, but I still think the primary thing is to win for the next 2-5 years at the expense, perhaps, of winning right now). Of course, others disagree with that theory.

At 05 June, 2007 09:25, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know his name is Luciano Emilio, right?

At 05 June, 2007 09:33, Blogger D said...

Yes, and I keep typing it wrong and not catching it. Good god. Sigh. Don't know what's wrong with me here.

At 05 June, 2007 13:33, Blogger stmatte said...

Soehn is a disaster, it is time for DC United to hire a real coach that can coach and inspire the team. Tired of these wannabe coaches. That he gets any credit for anything is beyond me.

Last week against Houston with Emilio, Kpene on top our first half was the best so far this season. By having to forwards that are willing to run it opens up space for Gomez brilliance and Freds attacks on the side. Moreno is not worth to have on the field just to take some PK's because that is all he is good for.
Finally the management need to get their heads out of their arses and get 1 or 2 defensive players, we have plenty of midfielders to trade with.

At 08 June, 2007 10:55, Blogger Longshoe said...

Re: Who Ate All the Cupcakes

I try to stay neutral on the blog, at least as much as I can, but I'm a DC fan since '96. I still have my '96 Away white jersey, and 2 training jerseys from the first season...


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