16 June 2007

First Impressions - DC United 3 : 1 Chicago Fire

These are the kind of games I dream of. Games where we get an early lead. Games where we extend that lead. Games that never seem in doubt. Games that, if one were perhaps ungrateful and churlish, you might say it was a bit boring at the end. Fine. I'll take boring.

United was, at least from my perspective, gifted with the early lead when Chicago's Matt Pickens decided to hand the ball to Rod Dyachenko. I'll have to see replays, but it seemed like we were just damn lucky. However, the remainder of the game had nothing to do with luck, as United played efficiently and mercilessly with possession. If the possession wasn't as urgent and forceful as perhaps you would normally want, it didn't need to be because of the early goal. Fred, Emilio, Dyachenko, Gomez, and Olsen all kept solid pressure. The second and third goals would come if they stayed patient, and so they did.

To be fair, it was clear Chicago missed many of their starters. Players never seemed to be on the same page. Gutierrez would have one idea, but Barrett wouldn't make the run that was expected and the ball would trickle out of bounds. Insert new combination of Chicago Midfielder and Forward, and repeat. By the end of the game, they had run themselves out of everything. Too often I've seen United meet incompetence and try to match it. This game they answered their opponent's uncertainty with relentless poise. It was wonderful. Not as exciting as New York last week, but one can admire professionalism and heart in different ways. This game was all about one better team dismantling a worse one. It was an education.

Man of the Match is up in the air for me. Yes, Emilio has the brace. But Gomez and Carroll were both highly effective in this match, and while I need to check the replays of the few defensive breakdowns we had, my sense was that Devon McTavish filled in admirable for Bobby Boswell. I'm kinda leaning towards Devon for MotM, but I can probably be persuaded. And while he's not in contention for Man of the Match, I want again (As I did last week) to direct your attention to Justin Moose, who is quietly asserting himself as the most effective offensive substitution option that Tom Soehn has on the bench. Really.

Good game, good result, and United looks to have absorbed enough of the Fire to have thawed out of the Freezer. Now go out and do it again in Salt Lake.

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At 17 June, 2007 13:01, Anonymous Nick said...

Remember when goalkeeping used to be the strongest, deepest position in MLS?


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