20 August 2007

Debriefing for Match 12.19: At Columbus Crew

Columbus Crew 0 : 2 D.C. United

Six Word Novel Recap

Emilio takes ball, wallet, from Hendrickson.

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Columbus Dispatch, Shawn Mitchell: "United did not play its finest but still handed the Crew a 2-0 loss...Brazilian midfielder Fred struck in the 52nd minute, and 11 minutes later Luciano Emilio scored for a league-leading 14th time."
The Washington Post, Steve Goff: "In the 52nd minute, Christian Gomez nodded Bryan Namoff's cross off the left post, collected the stray ball and had his second attempt blocked. The ball caromed toward the top of the penalty area, where Fred blasted a 17-yard one-timer into the upper right side for his third goal of the season."
The Washington Times, Joe Reedy: "United took advantage of a Columbus lapse for its second goal. After Ezra Hendrickson intercepted a pass by Fred near the penalty area, he tried to clear it in the opposite direction. Then Emilio, who easily put it past Hesmer just outside the goal area..."
MLSNet, Nathan Linton: "Both United head coach Tom Soehn and Crew boss Sigi Schmid said that much of the play in the first half favored the Crew."
MLSNet, Nathan Linton: "...the Crew started to press over the final half-hour. Schelotto had a free kick barely miss four teammates in the box in the 69th minute before being punched away by United 'keeper Troy Perkins. Then three minutes later Perkins saved a goal again after Columbus midfielder Duncan Oughton hustled to the ball, colliding with the right post but pulling the ball back across the face of goal. Perkins scrambled to control the ball and nearly carried across the line before hurling it back out, but referee Richard Heron ruled that Alejandro Moreno fouled Perkins..."
BlackDogRed, BDR: "I am taking nothing away from this game but three points, admittedly on the road, against a mediocre team in hideous kits. S'better than losing, s'better than tieing, it's the minimum requirement after Wednesday's shoepuke, but ultimately it's just a win against crappy yellow team."
Poplar Point Perspective: "Gomez looked better than he has in a month."
The Edgell Supporters: "Simms is an upgrade at defensive mid because of his distribution (not always perfect but better than Carroll) and his ability to shut a lot of stuff down coming through midfield. I hate to say this because of what it means, but we did not really miss Boswell tonight..."
Six Yards North, QJA: "Fred is magical...It wasn't just his strike, which opened the scoreboard as well as United's attack. It was Fred's urgency, which ensured positive movement up the pitch; it was his persistence, which ensured focused, dynamic attack on goal; and it was his thrilling movement on the ball, which ensured that the audience was at the edge of their seats and that the Crew were at the edge of their collective wits. Simply put, United is better as a team when Fred is on the field."
The Offside: Columbus Crew, Scott: "We moved the ball well against them, we came forward often and with intent, but we never really looked that much like scoring. I was particularly impressed with Hejduk’s runs down the right side, the guy never gives up. The second half was largely a different story altogether..."

The Good

  1. Second Half Revival: That first half was an utterly disheartening bit of soccer. Neither team looked particularly good, but the Crew overall looked less bad. The second half was a different story, but I'm not sure what caused it. Was United playing that much better before the goal? Maybe, but after Fred broke the deadlock, they certainly established control of the game. Chicken and Egg a bit there. They went on to do very well until they packed it in for the final 13 or so minutes.
  2. Tackling: One frustrating thing of this season was United not showing enough bite in their tackles, something that they seem to be reversing. This game United had more fouls, but that's largely because they were disrupting play as much as possible in midfield.
  3. Fight for the shirt: A loss is frustrating, but a loss when the team never has it together? Infuriating. This was somehow not the opposite, but the contrapositive you will. The team never was in sync, but they were fighting through it. There were giveaways, but the team was rallying back to fight for the ball. Luciano Emilio's goal was all about not giving up on the play, pressuring Ezra Hendrickson into turning the ball the wrong way. I'll take that.

The Bad

  1. TV: Had to watch the game on MLS Live, which came through fine for me but subjected me to ads for Fort Rapids, Ohio's largest indoor waterpark. DO NOT WANT. (That being said, the pbp/color combination in Columbus is much better than most local teams. Credit where it is due.)
  2. Backline shuffle: The Edgell Supporters didn't miss Boswell, but I think I did, especially in that opening twenty minutes. One thing Boswell does well is play the sweeper role, tidying up some ugly moments in the back by getting the ball out of the box. Given the number of low balls on the ground that Hejduk sent through that missed everyone, I think Boswell deals with those fairly well. He's even better at getting that tall head of his to sloppy aerial balls in the box, clearing them out of the box (sometimes right to an attacker, but hey, better there than around the six yard area.) Burch had a tough game, Vanney was acceptable but not stunning, and Namoff had his hands full. Given that United's central defense was a bit put together, I'm surprised Columbus didn't try to come down the middle more. Part of that was Clyde Simms, but the other part is that Columbus loves dealing the ball wide to Frankie and playing the soccer equivalent of Plinko with his

Man of the Match

Fred. Six Yards North has this right, he did an awful lot on the ball to earn that goal. The return of Gomez was nice, and Moreno is playing better now than I can remember, so special merit awards to them. Also merit awards to Emilio, Mediate, Simms, and Perkins.

Karma Bank

Interesting night karma wise...

+1 for the post denying Gomez, -1 for the fortunate series of rebounds that led to Fred finding the shot in stride. +1 for Emilio's persistence in tracking down that second goal. +1 for Perkins making sure of the clean sheet even if he had been fouled, -1 for conceding so much of the opening half but escaping without a goal. +1 for the game, +3 for the season... so we're still owed.

Final Thoughts

While I'm thrilled at the result, I can't help but feel that if Columbus had put away an early chance that we might be looking at a 1-nil loss coming out of Ohio. Still, this win is important. Finishing off August with wins in league play is huge for this team, as September starts with three games in eight days against good teams (At Dallas, At Chivas, Home to the Revs). United will drop some points in those games, but stockpiling results now helps.

The other good news is checking the standings. Not the race for the supporter's shield, which I still want, but rather my bet with The Kin of Fish. Tied with New York and a game in hand... a much better scenario than at the start of the season. If we can finish off August, things will look much better there. Frankly, I've had enough pain this season, I don't need to be heading into Lot 8 in RBNY colors. C'mon United, my physical well being is in your hands.

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At 20 August, 2007 10:25, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"DC United 1 : 0 Los Angeles Galaxy" ?

Good lord, it seems like we play LA all the time now...

At 20 August, 2007 10:37, Blogger D said...

Noted and corrected. All that work to write the debrief, and I forget to change the scoreline on the template. Oops.

At 20 August, 2007 11:14, Blogger JCM said...

I've got to disagree with your assessment of Burch. I thought he played a great game in the back. With Gomez, Fred and Moreno on the field, he was not expected to get up field as much. However, he was in excellent position to intercept crosses and tracked back well on runs down the sideline. There was a reason why Columbus had zero shots on goal in the first half and nothing threatening until the last 20 minutes.

At 20 August, 2007 12:25, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I drew heavily on the karma bank for this game. At one point Ezra took the ball away from a DCU player and the Columbus announcers said "like taking candy from a baby" At that moment I fervently wished for revenge... and it came with Emilio pickpocketing Ezra in a play that would not have looked out of place in my rec league (minus the stunning heel-kick setup from Fred.)

At 20 August, 2007 12:36, Blogger Bob said...

I'm still trying to figure out how Ezra could have played that differently. He turned the ball away from goal and it got away from him a bit, but Emilio's anticipation is what created that goal. Maybe if Ezra had put it in the 15th row...?

Burch's problem was that he was marking Schelotto, who was willing to take a dive if you looked at him funny.

At 20 August, 2007 14:15, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, I think Burch once again did a great job, considering his mark was difficult to cover, and he's still learning.

IMO our future success may well ride on guys like Burch and Simms coing out of the shadows to shine brightly.

At 20 August, 2007 14:20, Anonymous Red State-Blues City said...

Someone needs to give McTavish his props. His positioning was pretty good on the night, a notable improvement for him. I noticed couple of sequences where he was perfectly positioned and headed early Crew crosses clear. I actually had to check with someone who saw the lineup to see if it was him or Boz playing in the first half.

At 20 August, 2007 14:39, Blogger adelino said...

I agree that TV was a huge letdown on Saturday.

Why was there no local tv coverage? On my official DCU schedule it said that the game would be on CSN. Why does CSN get to back out of their contract with DCU to double broadcast a (very boring) Redskins game that was already being shown on the local CBS station? Why would they want to? Do they really get better ratings showing a simulcast of a game that doesn't count for a team that sucks than for a DCU regular season conference win.?

While I'm complaining about TV coverage, what is wrong with ESPN? Are they already off the Beckham bandwagon. They broadcast two dismal games that he doesn't even play and then miss out when he finally is healthy and begins delivering on all of their outrageous promises of screaming free kicks and sublime passes.

That goal fest in NY could have changed a lot of those sad little minds that somehow believe soccer is boring and that american football has more action just because they count by sevens.

At 20 August, 2007 18:25, Blogger Sean said...

Also in the bad:

Josh Gros's concussion. He might be out of soccer for good.

At 21 August, 2007 08:37, Anonymous Jeremy said...

I can't understand why CSN would broadcast the Redskins game when it was already being broadcast. However, they did make the game available on CN8, which is available on Comcast and Cox cable (at least I watched it on Fairfax Cox).
I found the game by flipping through the channels at game time, lucky for me. After, I read that Goff had announced that the game would be broadcast on CN8. It would have been nice if CSN had a running trailer letting people know what channel to watch.
Still, at least it was pre-empted for a nother sporting event, not for an ESPN made for TV movie like ESPN used to do with the hockey playoffs.


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