09 July 2007

Debriefing for 12.14: At Houston Dynamo

Houston Dynamo 1 : 0 D.C. United

Six Word Novel Recap

Inspiration doesn't strike us. Ching did.

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Houston Chronicle, Bernardo Fallas: "Ching combined with midfielder Richard Mulrooney for the only scoring of the night in the 33rd minute. Mulrooney rushed to collect a loose ball off a corner kick and, upon coming across it, unloaded a razing, left-footed shot from near the top of the box that an alert Ching deflected past United keeper Troy Perkins."
The Washington Post, Steve Goff: "United's concerns ran deeper than a goal that handed D.C. (7-5-2) only its second loss in 10 games and extended the Dynamo's unbeaten streak to eight and its shutout run to 515 minutes. United's attack barely showed life and, other than two prime opportunities before halftime, the club posed no threat to veteran goalkeeper Pat Onstad and his flawless back line."
MLSNet, Lucas Ogden-Davis: "United had a chance to go up early in the game on a free kick taken by Gomez. Gomez's shot bounced in the middle of the penalty area and then up and off the crossbar, before landing in a dangerous position in front of the goal, but it was cleared out by the Houston defense."
MLSNet, Jeremy Rakes:"The save that Onstad made to keep the game scoreless came in the 29th minute when Luciano Emilio had a short breakaway denied by the Houston goalkeeper. Emilio broke free from Eddie Robinson, and had a short breakaway into the box, but his shot to the right was saved by a diving Onstad. From there, Houston's team defense took over as Onstad had three saves, and D.C. took only six shots."
MLSNet, Jeremy Rakes: "United were still in the game, and had a couple of chances to snatch a late tie. In the 80th minute, Clyde Simms fired a bullet from outside the area, but put it wide. Then in the 87th minute, Devon McTavish sent a curling shot from the right corner of the box, but his shot sailed into the hands of the waiting Onstad, and Dynamo held on for yet another clean sheet."
Blckdgrd: " I'm not spending too many minutes anguishing over this game. Concerns? Sure, but no grand conclusions from last night other than Carroll is becoming dangerously useless..."
Soccer Insider, Steve Goff: "Not a very inspiring performance."
The Edgell Supporters: "There are some games where you can just feel like we don't have it in us. There was no danger or urgency in our game and Houston knew it."

The Good

  1. Troy Perkins: I'm gonna keep him at the top of the good list. He clearly has his game going, made a save on one tough deflection earlier in the match, and had no opportunity to save the other. He did all that you can ask for.
  2. Defensive Depth?: I don't like the idea of pinning our hopes for defensive depth on the emergence of Devon McTavish. He's too young, he's going to have some off games and we should expect that. Still, I have to admit he's come along well in his chances, Josh Gros is settling into his role at left back with adequacy (as opposed to being a liability), and Boswell and Vanney were better last night than Vanney was against Kansas City last week. Namoff should be getting through his traditional "one multiple week injury per season" stint, so if he can stay healthy, I'd be happy if that's the last we saw of the makeshift back four in favor of five backs (plus the occasional Marc Burch) having some time out there.
  3. Zones of Control: United actually came out well in the opening minutes of the first half. They had stretches of decent possession, but it seemed like when they were frusturated it took more out of them.

The Bad

  1. Brian Carroll:Really, he's better than he was, but last night was a reminder that he's not asserting himself in midfield the way he should. Clyde Simms deserves a few starts, or Carroll the Younger, or even Arguez after the US Open Cup.
  2. Strategic Failure: Tom Soehn has shown some good adaptive instincts against other teams, but this game seemed to elude him. If there was a consistent strategy to this game, I'm not sure we saw it. United was timid in its counter attacking, frequently cutting the ball back for a simple pass. The substitutions also brought little to the table. Dyanchenko for Addlery and Burch for Olsen were both reasonable, but Simms for Carroll brought little to the table in terms of gaining a goal on the road. I know Moose didn't have a particularly good game against KC, but at least he would have injected some additional attacking options into the game, Additionally, after being outplayed at the end of the first half, the team didn't change its style or results to start the second.
  3. Road Intensity: Player quotes indicate that they felt more in control of the match than the one I saw. United really didn't feel threatening, and so I'm going to repeat Kinney's note from last week. We lost a lot of 50-50 balls. It wasn't effort, as they fought for those balls, but they never had that extra bit of fire to get them. Of course, Houston is also better in those situations, and probably more accustomed to them given the field.

Man of the Match


Karma Bank

Gomez hits a post on a beautiful free kick, which earns us one karma, but the overall tedious game and play gives it right back again. No Change, -1 for the season.

Final Thoughts

Three points on this road trip is acceptable. Sure, I wanted more after the win against KC, but I'll take this. What concerns me is that I'm not sure I believe in this team on the road. That's an issue as we go down the stretch.

I thought of breaking my week long silence during those few days in first place to pose this question: "Does this feel and look like a first place team to you?" It doesn't to me... yet. Can I see a way there? Yes, but at the same time I don't think our level of play has reached the point of the end of the 2004 season (a benchmark) or even the 2005 unbeaten streak (a slightly lower mark, given the number of 1-nil results). We're a midlevel team, playing like a midlevel team. The encouraging thing is that you can see how we could be more than that. The discouraging thing is that we aren't there yet.

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At 09 July, 2007 10:51, Anonymous Dave Lifton said...

I hate it when I don't have the podcast up in time for the debriefing. It's just that my voice sounds so much better in the morning...

At 09 July, 2007 11:58, Anonymous bdr said...

I see power-rankings (like ESPN's and Galarcep's) rate United #1 and scratch my head and wonder if they're watching the same team I am (or if I'm not seeing enough of the rest of the league to see how ordinary IT is).

At 09 July, 2007 14:32, Blogger Kinney said...

Very good final thoughts. Almost exactly what I was thinking. We haven't moved above the pack this year (that said the pack is at a very high level). I hope we can exert our class over the long season, but right now I see flashes instead of consistancy.

At 09 July, 2007 15:24, Anonymous Nick said...

Yea, I just wanted to agree that the subs last night made did not make much sense to me. How does bringing in Dyachenko add anything at all to this team? I have seen neither promise nor production from Rod, so i'm not sure why we straight swap him for another forward. He has scored one goal his entire career, and it was a gift. That was almost like a defensive substitution in a game that we were losing.
I also wanted to say that Fred is a nice player, but he is not, in my opinion, a real difference maker. Is Fred an upgrade from Adu? I'd say not really. Is he an upgrade from Gros? I'd say its a wash at best. I'm not saying we should get rid of him or saying he's a bust, but i don't think it would be a bad idea at all to try and find a better brazilian or argentine to play that position next year...

At 09 July, 2007 15:32, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have to disagree with you there Nick, Fred has some nice skills and great field vision. He had a poor showing last night but IMO he's still an upgrade over Freddy and less of a distraction to boot.

Regarding getting more South American players, while South America has been and hopefully will continue to be fruitful for DCU, I'd love to see DC "scoop" the Galaxy (the Western Conference team that should have the biggest Asian focus, esp. when Becks comes) and bring in a Korean/Japanese/Chinese player.


At 09 July, 2007 20:50, Anonymous Matt Y said...

Houston is flat out the best team in the MLS..and showed it last night.

I give them most of the credit for DC's average performance.

We miss Moreno a ton and without another dangerous option up front Houston was going to shut us down easily.

A well played game between two good teams. Houston is just flat out better than us right now and it showed.

Remember...Houston hasn't given up a goal is quite a while and doesn't look like they will be giving up much period.

At 10 July, 2007 08:42, Anonymous Jeremy said...

You should have lumped Olsen in with the bad. He was atrocious in that game. There was no energy on the field at all. I know it was a hot oppressive day, but he looked like he hadn't slept in three days. He should have been replaced much earlier in the match.

At 10 July, 2007 13:51, Blogger stmatte said...

We missed Moreno.... I don't know about that, there were no PK's to be made and his production this year is highly questionable.
Houston was a better team, had higher intensity than us which wasn't to hard because we showed up flat with no energy. I was very impressed with Houstons performance and not so much with DC's performance.

DC United misses leadership on the field and from the sideline and please put Carroll on the bench for a bunch of games.


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