02 August 2007

Debriefing for 12.C.03: At Houston Dynamo

Houston Dynamo 1 : 0 DC United

DC United Advances to Superliga Semifinals in 2nd place in Group B
Will Face LA Galaxy on August 15.

Six Word Novel Recap

United squeaks through - "America: F*** Yeah!"

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Houston Chronicle, Ronnie Turner: "The key proved to be the combination of forwards Brian Ching and Nate Jaqua, who propelled the Dynamo to a 1-0 victory...Jaqua set up the score by flicking a pass to Ching, who split two defenders near the top of the penalty box."
The Washington Post, Eric Barton: "United, which could have clinched a berth by beating the Dynamo, got in through the back door."
MLSNet, Jeremy Rakes: "Chasing the equalizer, United started to apply more pressure as Dynamo began to retreat deeper into their their end. Fred won a free kick some 30 yards out from goal on the left that Gomez again stood over, and Wells again tipped over his curling effort aimed for the back post."
The Edgell Supporters: "Houston is good. They finish. DC is not bad, but we do not finish."
QuarterVolley, I-66: "It was promising to see Guy-Roland Kpene and Jaime Moreno get significant minutes, indicating perhaps that at least the latter is ready, or will be ready soon, to contribute regularly to the first team."
An American's View, Brian Garrison: "That was pretty bad. DC United looked listless out on the field. It almost looked like there were 20 guys out there in Orange and about 7 guys in black. The guys in black looked like they didn't know how to pass with each other. It was a bad match."
Poplar Point Perspective, JCM: "DC United needs Moreno on the field."

The Good

  1. Play Smart: The phrase "cagey" was used to describe the opening 15 minutes of this match. Awkward and boring would also have been accepted by the judges, but it was still an important 15 minutes. While United was finding what was working for them, they also noticed how Houston was going to attack, and they adjusted accordingly. This was tactically one of the more interesting games I've seen United play, since they didn't just change gears once, but multiple times each half. They sent in early balls from the wings, they would pass around the top of the box, they'd try down the middle, they'd try running along the goal line. It was interesting to see the team as versatile as I think they've been.
  2. Jaime Moreno: This is why I like him in a rotation. Before he left for Copa America and for the injury, the knock was that he didn't have 90 good minutes to give. I still think he doesn't. But in a situation where he only has 30 minutes to give, he made all of them count. While I would like the full 90, I prefer 30 in a stretch to 30 spread across an entire game.
  3. Houston: They are a very good team. A commenter asked if the stadium helps them - of course it does. If you look at what they do, they really attempt to disrupt passes up the middle by charging to the ball and hoping the other player doesn't check to the ball in time. Why does the field help that? Because if they don't disrupt the pass and start their counter, they're caught out to some degree. We saw this happen a few times. However, the damage is limited because the defenders behind them have less wing space to cover, and someone is more likely to get over. By the way, contrast the way Houston plays the midfield defensive game to United. United will let midfield players collect the ball, then try and take it off them, and occasionally foul them, a reason for the some of the foul imbalance you see. It's a risk/reward issue, and Houston plays the riskier strategy.

The Bad

  1. Black to Fade: How is DC United like the Sopranos? 'Cause there's no real finish! (Ah, Dan Loney called, and he'd like his schtick back. Sorry Dan. Clearly you're better at this.) United had some great chances, and some were spoiled due to luck (the Kpene to Luciano play that ended being blocked), skill (Zach Wells save of Christian Gomez's free kick) and some were just poorly executed (Dear Brian Carroll, if someone is sliding you a ball on the grass from a free kick, you really can't put it that far over the bar. Keep it low son.)
  2. Speed Kills: Allowing Brian Ching the space and lanes that we allowed him was bound to kill us, and it did. Brian may not be the fastest jet, but he's fast enough. Sometimes people make a difference between "fast" and "quick." It always seemed silly to me, but perhaps there is something to it. Similarly, you can't give DeRosario that much space when Houston is executing simple push and pass tactics. I'd much prefer the fouls we gave up to halt his progress, even with some of the free kick skills and DeRosario has.
  3. Telefutura: I know, the goal was a quick one, but you can't cut to a replay like that. Made ESPN look good.

Man of the Match


Karma Bank

It is a separate Karma Pool from the MLS Season. Anyways, it is -1 for Stuart Holden's shot getting the post after it sneaked under Perkins' hands, +1 for Moreno not getting a foul called after he got mugged, +1 for some good, creative soccer to create chances, and -3 for each goal America scored to get us into the semi finals. -2 for the match, which combined with the karma for Morelia (+2) and America (E), leaves us at no karma earned or owed entering the semifinals.

Final Thoughts

I think the reviews are generally one of relief. Most of us (An American's View excepted) don't think United played that badly, and I agree with that sentiment. Here's the issue. I have said that this is an average to good team, not a great team. The thing is, we're used to teams that are good or great, so this is a step down. And while I can accept that for this season, it isn't something I want to become accustomed to. Before the season began, the changes that were made never convinced me that this team was going to be great (thus the "rebuiding" concept), but I want to see progress toward becoming great. This is acceptable for now, but not for the long term. United has the rest of the MLS Season and the Superliga (and the Copa Sudamericana) to prove they are progressing once again to elite status. That's the goal. I may not expect it this year, but I want to see the evidence that it is the final destination.

Also, and I know this is bad karma (which I don't believe in, even if I track it) but is anyone else relieved to be playing LA instead of Pachuca in the next round? I am. Pachuca looks like a team getting better with each game, and I'm not sure about LA even after golapalooza. If I were unkind, I would say that Houston - Pachuca may well be the real final of this tournament. But you never know...

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At 02 August, 2007 10:29, Blogger Brian said...

I agree with you that DC United is an average team this season, which is exactly why I am disappointed with their play and feel that they are not playing well.

The team is the same group of guys we had last year, except we have a better winger than before (Fred for Adu) a better striker than we did before (Emilio for Alecko). The defense is less stable than last year.

Because there is such a difference in play from last year to this, with essentially the same group of guys, I get frustrated whenever I watch them play. I know that they can do better, we have all seen them do better. hell, they have done better this season, so it isn't beyond reason to expect them to pass better and to finish goal scoring chances.

At 02 August, 2007 11:21, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What was with Soehn's substitutions last night (I only had matchtracker access)? What was he thinking putting on a defender and a defensive midfielder while losing a (potentially) knock out game?

At 02 August, 2007 11:34, Blogger Sean said...

Still no word on Boswell's total miss in front of an empty net. If he booted it over the cross-bar, okay, but to swing and miss?

Come on, Bobby!

At 02 August, 2007 11:41, Blogger NCGuy said...

If it was a header, I'd be on Boswell's *ss, but come on he's a central defender! You can't take our scoring woes out on the backs!

At 02 August, 2007 11:43, Anonymous I-66 said...

Incidentally "America, fuck yeah!" was the text message I received from a friend of mine in Atlanta just a minute after Benny Feilhaber sunk Mexico.

Bobby's best goalmouth exploit was the header against Chelsea. His second best is probably his Matrix move to dummy the ball to Gomez against Bunch of Bull in the playoffs last year. This, last night, definitely was at the bottom of the list.

At 02 August, 2007 12:08, Anonymous mcn107 said...

Was it just me or did it feel like the boys were tired out there? A number of times, guys seemed to give up on balls or not challenge someone in possession to disrupt the pass. I am getting a little worried about what they will look like at the end of the next month. That is a lot of games in six weeks...

At 02 August, 2007 13:54, Blogger Jason said...

SUM and MLS desperately need to work the schedules much more carefully. Unless you raise the salary cap to add 5-10 more players per team... these teams cannot run games at the count per week that EPL teams do.

Both teams looked completely spent by 30 minutes in, and it can't get better in the next few weeks... Since June 23 we've had 1 week with only 2 games in it (all star week)... otherwise we've been playing 3 a week and will continue to do so until the beginning of September where we get 1 mid-week off. Then we continue at 3 a week to mid October. (with an even more insane Saturday/Tuesday/Friday in October)

At 02 August, 2007 15:43, Blogger Jonathan Geissler said...

quick: Moving or functioning rapidly and energetically; speedy.

fast: Acting, moving, or capable of acting or moving quickly; swift.


So it's pretty much the same, huh.

At 02 August, 2007 17:28, Anonymous Nick said...

I think you went too lenient on last night's play. The truth is we resorted to long ball, Rod Dyachenko, and an apparent lack of quality. Then Moreno came in, and the game changed completely, and United looked competent and even dangerous again. The subs were pointless. Yes, Dyachenko needed to come out, but that sub should have been made before kick-off when Soehn told the boys not to push up and to whack it long out of the back every time. Rod is neither fast or a good post up forward, so why did he start this game over Kpene in the first place? confusing... The other subs were just washes at best.
On the bright side, Moreno looks great and we are a completely different team with him in there, as exhibited by the meltdown against dallas after his departure, and the suck-show last night until his arrival. He could carry us to this superliga and maybe even save the playoffs. Also, as you said, the loss helped us because we avoid Pachuca, who is right there with Boca for best team in the Americas. LA is not even top 8 in MLS, so there is a huge advantage for us and a great opportunity to play the final at home. I am feeling reasonably optimistic about our chances...

At 02 August, 2007 18:04, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What IS the deal with the final, it ws my understanding IF we win, and Houston wins, we play in Texas again. But if we win, and Pachuca wins, then and only then will we play at home.


At 03 August, 2007 16:44, Anonymous Bill Urban said...

What IS the deal with the final, it ws my understanding IF we win, and Houston wins, we play in Texas again. But if we win, and Pachuca wins, then and only then will we play at home.


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