18 June 2007

Debriefing for Match 12.10: Chiago Fire

DC United 3 : 1 Chicago Fire

Six Word Novel Recap

If they give it, take it.

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Washington Post, Steve Goff: "United (5-3-2) extended its unbeaten streak to seven games, but unlike most of the encounters during this fine stretch, D.C. was never seriously challenged in recording its fourth consecutive victory at home."
The Washington Times, John Haydon: "Chicago was missing five key players because of injuries and national team duty, including top striker Chris Rolfe, who is out with an ankle injury. United took advantage, taking the lead six minutes into the game by exploiting a major error from Fire goalie Matt Pickens. "
UnitedMania, Jimmy LaRoue: "Chicago goalkeeper Matt Pickens gifted Dyachenko’s first-ever United goal in the 6th minute when he mishandled Fred’s short-hopped cross. The ball fell to Dyachenko, who had no trouble scoring from close-range...Emilio got his first goal of the night in the 25th minute when Christian Gomez played the Brazilian through. With Pickens coming out, Emilion chipped the ball over the Fire goalkeeper from 25 yards to give United a two-goal lead."
MLSNet, Charles Boehm: "The Argentinean found Emilio with a well-weighted chip over the Fire backline for D.C.'s second score, and it was a Gomez shot that nicked off Pickens' hands and fell to the Brazilian striker for his point-blank finish in the 51st minute. After a barren stretch in May, Emilio's scoring form has risen with the summer temperatures: he's hit three goals in his last two matches."
MLSNet, Jordan Brown:"Monteiro left United defender Facundo Erpen in his dust and placed a perfectly positioned ball past United 'keeper Troy Perkins in the 54th minute to give the Fire some life after falling behind by three goals just three minutes earlier on Emilio's second strike of the game."
MLSNet, Charles Boehm: "Pickens' goal looked like the business end of a United shooting drill in the 81st minute, as Olsen flew down the right flank and cut inside before laying off to Moose, who cranked a low, knuckling blast that the Fire goalkeeper parried away. Fred immediately smashed the rebound toward goal again, but with Pickens at his mercy his bid skipped wide to the left."
An American's View..., Brian Garrison: "The best sign of the night wasn't Emillio's two goals, or Benny's awesome flank play or the play of Gomez...it was that once United reverted back to the bumbling, stumbling defensive unit and allowed the one Fire goal, they went right back to work and shut down every and any attempt the Fire made to truly get back into the match."
The Offside: DC United, Max J: "I am a big Dyachenko fan, but I’m hoping we’ve seen the first and last of Striker Rod. He wasn’t awful but still played generally as expected: serviceable if unspectactular and a bit of an anchor. It seems ridiculous to say we misssed Kpene’s touch in a game where we scored three goals, but I felt it."
BlackDogRed: "He's [Dyachenko] a midfielder with midfielder instincts, so adjustments were expected and I should cut him some slack. It was interesting watching Dyachenko and Emilio figure the other out, especially early: Emilio would receive, back to the goal thirty yards out, and lay off where Moreno would have been and Dyachenko wasn't. Did get better as the game went on, but it's significant that when Addlery came on for Olsen Dyachenko moved back."
The Edgell Supporters: "By the way, everybody hates you HDNet, just sayin."
The Offside: Chicago Fire
: "...unless someone can find a compelling set of reasons otherwise, it surely is time for Dave to collect his things and leave Toyota Park. I know we’re missing players, but this is MLS, not the Premiership. The Fire have only managed one win and one tie since May began. I’m jumping off the fence and onto the fire Dave bandwagon."
ALSO: Kyle G's Photo Gallery (great shot of the Barra at one point), Screaming Eagles Podcast (in which Fred skillfully avoids answering a tough question), QuarterVolley (shares our concern about goals after goals), DCist, ... (more as noted)

The Good

  1. Punishing Mistakes: We did to Chicago what Kansas City did to us earlier in the year. When one team make a mistake to give you a great goal scoring opportunity, you take it. You then make damn sure you don't promptly surrender the lead. Dyachenko's goal was a complete gift, but United did the right things with it.
  2. Emilio's Chip: I know Lifton thinks that Fred had it covered if it missed the far post. Still, that's a goal that is probably more difficult than it looks. How often have we seen Jaime Moreno, or Christian Gomez, in a similar situation just send it wide, or over the cross bar, or not quite put enough pace on it so a defender can track back and clear it off the line. Sure, both of the aforementioned gentlemen have also converted chances as well, but it always seems to me that chip shots are more likely to come close, and fail, then convert as Emilio did.
  3. Midfield Dominance: Brian Carroll, Ben Olsen, and Fred did a lot to maintain possession in this game, and to provide enough space for Gomez to distribute the ball. The plays were smart, simple, and creativity was delivered when it was necessary. United patience in this match was smothering, and beautiful to watch.
  4. Fred in Close Quarters: Really, with two defenders around him, Fred turned on the "Australian Eel" powers and would slip passes, or sometimes his entire body, through close quarters and find someone in space. Very pretty to watch him school the Chicago midfield.
  5. Tim Weyland: Few complaints. Yes, there were some penalties that could have been called, but I don't think anyone expected them to be. Would I have liked to have seen a few more cards? Probably, but that's borderline. He was acceptable as a center ref. To some degree, I think CJ Brown being made Chicago's captain made his life easier, since Brown suddenly had to be an onfield leader and couldn't spend most of his time being a pest to try and draw a yellow.
  6. Moose, Supersub: His vision and pace we saw last week, but this week he complemented both of those by showing he might even have a canon for a foot. If he keeps playing like this when he enters the game late, he will do for this team what Jamil Walker was always supposed to do.

The Bad

  1. Fred in Space: The odd moments for Fred where when he found himself with space or only one defender. He refused to take a defender on until about the 80th minute. His passes were acceptable, but not scintillating. I just wanted a little more from him when fate conspired to give him an opportunity.
  2. Chicago's Starting XI: This isn't a knock against those players, but they were clearly rushed into starting positions without form or even fitness, given how many were dropping off at the end of the game. We all know that this isn't the best Chicago could offer, but what they did offer was decidedly below average.
  3. Behind the Play: In the first hour specifically, there was a lot of chippy play and cheap shots from both sides. Saw Ben Olsen get clobbered with an elbow to the skull. Saw Gros clobber a Fire player with the back of his hand. All while the ball was on the far side of the field. Not sure what was causing that, but it seemed in the final half hour everyone was too tired to continue it.
  4. The one mistake: As with Angel's goal for New York last week, United allowed a team to pull one back late. A complete meltdown, from what I saw, as everyone on United had the wrong momentum and allowed an otherwise impotent Chicago attack a chance in on goal.
  5. Nicholas Adderly: Tremendous potential, but he was caught in some strange positions at times, and I never felt like he was making the runs or checking back the way the team expected. Not really, really bad, but mildly bad.
  6. Dyachenko: I pretty much agree with everyone that says it didn't really work for most of this game with Rod, but that was just this game. I didn't see anything that said it wouldn't work in the future. First team minutes are the best education, so this game helps Rod as a learning experience. It might be great in the future.

Man of the Match

Well, I'm going to give it to Devon McTavish. Was he the best defender out there? No, but I think the most was being asked of Devon. Rod got gifted a goal early, which took all pressure off of him for the rest of the game, but Devon was being asked to audition for a role in a defense that might be lacking two players come Copa America, and it was an audition I think he passed. Certificates of Merit to Olsen, Gomez, Namoff, and definitely Emilio.

Karma Bank

Gifted one or two goals means we should be burning two karma, but the otherwise complete dominance of play had to earn us one. So, all in all, I'd say we burn one karma for Pickens grabbing the ball and then dropping it neatly at Rod's feet. -1 for the game, leaving us +1 for the season.

Final Thoughts

I caught this game on the quiet side with my wife, which is just a pleasant way of spending an evening. Think of it like brewing a pot of tea and doing a crossword on the porch, only instead you're being serenaded by hundreds of fanaticos and watching Ben Olsen yap at anyone who will listen to him. The sounds of summer, pleasant and wistful. Lovely evening.

Defensive depth is an issue we are not done with. Remember that we may not lose one defender to Copa America, but two (Namoff and Boswell), which is kind of odd given how we only have one clean sheet the entire year. Still, McTavish was reassuring, and Gros is starting to come on well as a left back. Erpen got burned on that goal, yes, but he should have had more help, so I'm not even that mad at him. We did what we should do. We also did what we need to do next week: Get an early goal, and kill off RSL. Exact same game plan, although Eskandarian is still, even with the help he has, scarier than Barrett was for Chicago. Also, Rimando can keep a team in a game, or he can commit a strange error and give on up easy. That's the big wildcard for me.
Do I feel good about this season yet? Yeah, for the first time I do. We have now, in back to back games, beaten a good team and a not-so-good team. That's both ends of the spectrum, and I like seeing them together like that. You need to do both, and DC did. Feels good.

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At 18 June, 2007 10:42, Blogger Bob said...

This isn't the right place, although it goes back to the DCU at LAG match. Did everyone see Jacqua's goal? [video on mlsnet.com]

He almost screwed that up. What is his deal? Does he hate scoring goals?

At 18 June, 2007 10:52, Blogger I-66 said...

This giving up goals after we score is beginning to bother me. 3 times in 2 weeks. Slightly scary.

At 18 June, 2007 11:13, Blogger Kinney said...

Great six word summary.


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