Debriefing for Match 12.22: At F.C. Dallas
F.C. Dallas 0 : 4 D.C. United
Six Word Novel Recap
Lesson to Dallas: "Resurrection is rare."
Media, Traditional and OtherwiseThe Washington Times, Milenko Martinovich: " If there was any doubt whether D.C. United was ready for a run at the Eastern Conference title, it was erased last night."
The Washington Post, Steve Davis: "Olsen's two first-half strikes propelled D.C. United to a 4-0 victory over FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park on Saturday night. Not only did the streaking club post its biggest road win since 1998, it was United's sixth consecutive league victory, matching last year's lengthy winning streak."
The Dallas Morning News, Gabriel Cabarrouy: "Sala appeared slow to dive to the right and got punished for it. The Argentinean goalie hadn't started a game in a month because of a left knee sprain... Morrow would only say that Sala was healthy and had been training for the last 10 days."
UnitedMania, Chris Webb: "Of particular note in this match was the return of defender Bobby Boswell to the starting X1 and he repaid Tom Soehn's confidence with a fantastic match in which he controlled the normally dangerous Carlos Ruiz in check and also managed to sweep a ball off the line when the score was still 1-0 to United midway through the first half. Troy Perkins got his fifth shutout in six matches and United has now got an amazing road scoreless streak now tabled at 431 minutes without conceding a goal. Now that is impressive."
3rd Degree, Jamie Fougerousse: "After giving up a fairly soft goal to Ben Olsen in the opening minutes of the game, Dallas looked to be containing things and searching for a way to break down DC’s defense. Just before halftime, Olsen scored again, and a lethargic Dallas team allowed two more in the opening five minutes of the second half. From then on the only story was a bunkered DC defense and some fancy footwork by Denilson as the Hoops showed what was hopefully just the rust of two weeks off."
Booked for Dissent, Dave Lifton: "Let Me Be The First To Say This…Ben Olsen for MLS MVP" [Note: Yes, as noted by Dave, he was the first to say this. Beat me by an hour. Impressive. Now, I don't think Ben really is the MLS MVP, but he may be the key to United this year, and should be considered for the house honors if nothing else. We need to talk about this at some point.]
The Edgell Supporters: "This means we have depth at defense, but not only do we have depth we have clean sheet depth. The first 15-20 minutes were a bit of a struggle but everyone pulled together at the back to keep the ball out of the net. Even with all the offense Dallas was throwing at us early, they only managed 2 shots on goal."
Six Yards North, QJA: "As long as we're talking about success stories, let's give a good, long shout out to Clyde Simms. Carroll earned himself a suspension by dint of too many yellows but I'm inclined to think that Simms would have started anyways. Simms plays with a style that is strong and yet humble, as evidenced by his effort to assist Olsen's cracker in the 4th. He scampers up to steal Sala's poor clearance follows his first instinct: pass. How many players do you know that would pass the ball of after stealing it 25 yards out in center midfield?"
BlckDgRd, BDR: "...I need to moderate my tendency to reach grand conclusions - good or bad - off a single game's result, so cautious and restrained and brief enthusiasm only. Here's what's different: Unlike the last two seasons, United appears to be accelerating into September rather than gasping toward October. United looks fresh, not only in terms of fitness and energy but also creative impetus." [Note: Good advice all the way around]
Poplar Point Perspective, JCM: "...this is the most surprising result of the entire season."
An American's View, Brian Garrison: "I had to admit, coming into Saturday nights match, I was a little concerned. United was set to face one of the top clubs in the Western Conference and face them on the road. FC Dallas were coming in with about two weeks worth of rest on their backs and some new Brazilian set to make his debut. It had the makings of the end of a 5 game winning streak...Instead, it just became a 6 game winning streak. "
- Everyone Knew It Could Happen, Yet it Didn't: Yes, everyone liked DC United being up 3-nil early in the second half. And everyone was thinking about a repeat of the game at RFK when United gave away a three goal lead. What's more, everyone knew that everyone else knew as well, and you knew the players knew the players knew that you knew it as well. With all of that, only one FC Dallas goal would have made things a bit squeeky, but it didn't happen because United were happy not only to slow the game down on offense, but also to play a defense that slowed FC Dallas down. Force them into the middle, make them string together passes, don't get into wind sprints. Smart all the way around.
- The Return of Bobby Boswell: The comments in the first impressions thread are worth reading, as there are great points all the way around. I think that Urban gets it right, and there is something to think about in a Carroll-Boswell parallel. Personally, I felt more convinced of this defensive clean sheet than others, but I honestly believe that the Perkins - Burch-Vanney-Boswell-Namoff-Simms defensive corp is the best lineup we have, and that McTavish (or Mediate) are nice when you need them. Of course, I'm biased.
- Talk of the Nation with Jaime Moreno: Ben Olsen is a known yapper, but it was nice to see Jaime get in a few verbal jabs. Yes, Jaime goes down easily sometimes, but teams really are hacking the hell out of him.
- Asserted through the Midfield: The biggest thing wasn't Fred creating chances, or Olsen's brace, but rather the way Simms, Vanney, and Boswell dealt with Juan Toja. Much better this time, as they would zonally mark him, perhaps give him a touch, but never really let him run at anyone or down the goal. If George Kennan were alive today, he'd think of an entirely new way to contain that communist threat, and it would involve Clyde Simms.
- Not Like it Seemed: This was a good result, but 4-nil is misleading. Seriously, if Sala makes a few saves, and Ruiz connects with that shot to the corner (or Boswell doesn't clear the line) then this game ends 2-1. Still in United's favor, which is what it should have been, but 4-nil is flattering. Really, it was a good, complete game, but this isn't the scoreline to which we should be calibrating.
- Brian Hall: Once United had established the lead, it seemed like he just wanted to get the game over with. Still, some of that shirt tugging you have to call. Neither team was helped, but c'mon, earn that paycheck.
- We are not deep: I know it seems that way, but there are, shall we say, critical junctions. More on that later.
Man of the Match
Marc Burch. Figured in most of the goals with some neat crossing ability, had some fairly good defense (never exposed, but beaten once I think. That's fine.) Adds something to this team that we've sorely been missing.
+3 entering the season. -1 for Olsen's first strike (that had to be a bit lucky), -1 for Toja having an empty net and shooting at Boswell's knee, +1 for Gomez's goal which was quite pretty. -1 for the game, +2 for the season.
Final ThoughtsThe thing about a game like this is that it's almost the identical thing you have to do with a bad loss. Just like you need to forget a bad loss and not let it get you down, this is a game that should be forgotten so as not to get delusions of invincibility. Accordingly, I will not speak of this game any more.
Instead, let's look at Chivas. Undefeated at home. Identical path to United recently in terms of Shield Pace. Another first year head coach in Preki that took a bit of time to figure out his team, but finally did it. Some good pace that can play havoc with United's back line (though they've handled pace better as the year has gone on). Again, in the Dallas-Chivas-Revs set of games we were hoping for five points overall. We have three, and getting one against Chivas is no embarrassment. Play smart, play compact, and don't give up the game.
Right now, the Supporter's Shield is the most important trophy United is pursuing. Not MLS Cup (yet). Not Sudamericana. The Supporter's Shield is the focus. That doesn't, however, mean winning every game and playing the team out. We almost lost the shield that way last year. No, let's manage the team, keep the rotations going, and look for progress over time remaining rather than killing the team for each game. We're still in the "manage for a season" mode, not "manage for a game." If that means resting Emilio, or Moreno, or Olsen, or whomever, then that's fine. We still have two months, let's be patient and finish this off right.