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 OtherwiseThe 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 BankGomez 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 ThoughtsThree 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.