07 September 2007

Debriefing for Match 12.23: At C.D. Chivas USA

C.D. Chivas USA 2 : 2 D.C. United

Six Word Novel Recap

If tired now, think about Sunday.

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Washington Post, Steve Goff: "On an evening of odd bounces and defensive follies, D.C. United let an early two-goal lead evaporate and settled for a 2-2 tie with Chivas USA on Thursday night before an announced crowd of 9,306 at Home Depot Center."
The L.A. Times, Jaime Cárdenas: "Defender Lawson Vaughn scored the tying goal in the 60th minutes on a shot from inside the box that deflected off United's Clyde Simms."
UnitedMania, Mark Martin: "United looked to be firmly in control of this match as they scored barely three minutes into the match when Emilio struck a pea to the upper 90 after a lovely feed from Moreno. Then when Emilio doubled the lead barely twenty minutes later by pounding a rebound from a Moreno shot into the back of the net, surely the game seemed won...Chivas was denied a clear chance for the full three points in the 90th minute as a Mendoza breakaway was called back for offside in what was clearly a bad call as Brian Carroll was way late in holding the line and obviously left Mendoza by a good two yards."
MLSNet, Luis Bueno: "Chivas USA, though, benefited from a goalkeeper mistake. As D.C. looked for a third goal, Chivas USA's Paulo Nagamura cleared the ball from his own third of the field. The ball sailed toward the top of United's penalty area. Perkins tried to send the ball right back but Razov stepped in front of him. The ball caromed off Razov's midsection and rolled toward the goal line. Perkins scrambled back but the ball had too much pace and he couldn't keep it from crossing the line. Perkins had been struck by misfortune against a red-striped club earlier this year. Facing Chivas de Guadalajara in a CONCACAF Champions' Cup match, Perkins mishandled a long-range shot from Gonzalo Pineda. The ball hit Perkins' hands and floated over his head and across the goal line." [Note: Is there ever a reason not to bring this up anymore? Is this part of the story, except to feed the Chivas Guadalajara machine? For shame, Luis, for shame...]
MLSNet, Andrea Canales: "United saw their six-game winning streak come to an end, but still took a point which pushed them to the top of the MLS overall standings, one point ahead of the New England Revolution - who United plays Sunday at RFK Stadium."
MLSNet, Luis Bueno: "In the 60th minute, Vaughn bagged the equalizer in Chivas USA's 2-2 draw with D.C. United. On the leveler, Vaughn ripped a shot on goal that deflected off United's Clyde Simms and into the back of the net...Never having scored as a pro and having scored seldom in college, Vaughn was at a loss for ideas."
BlckDgRd, BDR: "fatigue kills...There're playing four games in twelve days. If United can push through these last two games of the four and be ahead of Supporters Shield (still a reasonable expectation) it should be considered a successful run, and one way or the other they'll have nine days after Wednesday to rest before their next game. Suck it up for Ningland then rest starters if necessary against Duck Lake."
QuarterVolley, I-66: "While I’m not placing any blame on our back four for the goals, after the Perkins mistake Chivas always looked like drawing level, and probably would have earned all three points had both teams not decided to fold up shop and settle for the draw - a move that didn’t really surprise me from United, but was downright shocking from Chivas."
The Edgell Supporters: "Our team speed is slow, or our team is slow, however you put it, in comparison to Chivas USA we lack speed. Chivas exploited our slow defense and never allowed us time to recover between attacks, credit goes to them for that."
An American's View..., Brian Garrison: "What the hell is wrong with Brian Carroll? That guy gets subbed into the match late, then spends his whole time on the field standing and watch balls roll at him, just to see a Chivas player steal it."

The Good

  1. Apparently, we got another early goal: I'm really not sure if this is a good thing. Without radio or ESPN coverage, it's hard to judge how that early goal came. Comments made it sound like it was against the run of play, but once the magic pictures animated my low-def TV set, United looked really decent for about a half-hour. I am a bit worried about the reliance of quick starts. What happens if United goes down a goal, or doesn't get that first goal in the first fifteen minutes? At some point, this will happen (with New England in town, perhaps sooner rather than later). While the MLS Official Stats through yesterday show that United has just as many first half as second half goals, how many of those came with a team pressing for an equalizer?
  2. Emilio: Two goals is two goals, and both are trickier goals than they looked in real time. Consider that Chivas had a similar chance to Emilio's first, and sent the ball either over the crossbar or right into Perkins' face. The second was also not the simple garbage goal it might have seemed. Emilio had to lurch awkwardly to his right to get a foot on the ball, and still direct it towards the goal.
  3. Kevin Stott: I may get in trouble for this, given that most of the DC faithful are not happy with Stott's performance. I thought his biggest problem was playing advantage to United too often (grabbing a player and delaying him enough to force a drop pass is not an advantage) but he called more off the typical ticky-tack fouls that teams enjoy employing against United. Each card was deserved, and his officiating was fair.
  4. Boswell's Near Own Goal: Good? Yes. If Boswell lets that go through, it's more likely than not a goal. And the easy decision, the defensible decision, was to let the ball go by. No one could blame Boswell, especially Boswell, for being so worried about the autogolazo if he had decided to not make a play on that ball. Still, from where I sit, his decision to make the play on the ball made sense to me. Yes, there's a large risk of an own-goal, but I'm pretty sure that shot has a 90% likelihood of being buried if Boswell doesn't interrupt the cross. Even if it was a 70% chance of an own goal, that's a good trade. It was a courageous play, and should be noted as such.

The Bad

  1. Handling the Pace: The Edgell Supporters have a very good point: Chivas is a fast team, faster than United which is not particularly known for handling speed well. The problem is that United insisted on poor passing to exacerbate Chivas's advantage. How often were balls played from the back third to the middle third for a Chivas player to take at almost full speed back at our defense? Too often. This was a decision making problem. Fatigue may play a role in clouding the senses, but United was far too eager to try and start a counter when clean passes weren't present.
  2. Touch: Fred and Gomez both had awful games when it came to settling the ball. That's an aberration, I think, but it didn't help.
  3. Tactical Decisions: Not sure about Soehn closing up shop when he did. We waited until the 70th minute before getting people off, and Ben (as I think a commenter noted) was clearly gassed before then. Would have liked to have seen moves starting in the 60th minute.
  4. ESPN: Commenters are right. I can't blame them for sticking with the game and not Heidi-ing the college football viewers. But the rest of the game did not atone. And let me take a moment on Dave O'Brien. I think his introduction (or intrusion) on our sport was misperceived by many fans. They saw it as a sign of early disrespect from ESPN that a baseball announcer was being given soccer duties. I don't think it was meant that way at all. Many play-by-play folks can do multiple sports (see: Johnson, Dave). And O'Brien is good at baseball. To me, I think ESPN saw this as a way of investing some talent, of putting someone into the role who could really grow into it. It was, in a way, a sign of respect. But while O'Brien is better at the start, he is at least a long-flight with a layover in Newark away from good. He probably can be a just-below average play-by-play soccer man at best. He has no natural constituency that would like to see him remain. It is time to end this.

Man of the Match

Emilio. Merit award to Vanney.

Karma Bank

+2 for the season entering the game. United burns one karma for the fortunate deflection off of Guzan (-1). United is then owed two karma for the Razov butt-shot goal (+2). United then gets a fortunate post to block the Boswell own-goal (-1), and another one karma is burned for the off-side call saving Perkins from a solo situation(-1). That's one karma burned for this match, and +1 for the season. Even with the misfortune of that first goal, I still think we got more luck our way than Chivas did.

Final Thoughts

Before this swing began, I said that 5 points from the Dallas, Chivas, and New England games would be good. We have 4 points, with a maximum possible yield of seven. These games are not disastrous even if we lose against New England. The question is are they mildly disappointing (a loss), acceptable (another draw), or pretty-darn-good (a win.) Personally, while others expect United to hold serve against New England, I think a draw has to be considered a decent result. I have to remind myself to think larger than one game. This result against Chivas felt awful primarily because we went two up and the game got away from us. But as a result, it isn't really bad.

What's more upsetting is for all the talk about learning lessons from the first Dallas draw to the most recent Dallas win, United gave away this game the same way. They played too quickly, and allowed a rival team to use their speed against them. It was almost the exact same situation. If the lesson had sunk in against Dallas, it should have sunk in against the rest of the league.

Yes, I can understand the "look tired" issue. United did have two road games in five days, and will have a home game on Sunday. But it's not like this situation won't reoccur (look at the September to October period when Copa Sudamericana kicks off). BDR says "There is no back-up striker, there is no back-up withdrawn, there is no back-up ten, there are no back-up wings." It makes you wonder. Some players should have been able to step into these roles (well, perhaps not the ten, Dyachenko not withstanding). But Moose and Kpene should be making their influence felt, and aren't. Why not? For all the credit Tom Soehn gets about playing youngsters, I get the sense that he's more comfortable giving young players a chance in defense (Soehn's own role, and perhaps his comfort zone) than in attack. Or perhaps they really aren't training well (Paging Dave Lifton.)

Again, the results are okay, but there's always the chance that the results miss important facts. We survived against Toronto. We did not play well against Chivas. We are unbeaten in six, but we've been convincing in two of those games, acceptable in two, and mediocre at best in two. Maybe that's the way of thing. Maybe I'm always hoping to see dominating performances, and am disappointed when I don't get that. Entirely possible.

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At 07 September, 2007 15:25, Blogger Charles said...

I think the analysis of DC's performance has been a bit harsh. Just think about the game from Chivas' perspective- they were down two goals early on and if not for two lucky (one extremely lucky) deflections the game would have been another loss. Their luck ran out in the closing minutes with the last offside call, but their team certainly burned some karma last night too.

I wish DC would win every game 4-0 but that's possible for any team, especially with the unique parity in the MLS system, which I think we should all be thankful for. Let's take the point and get ready to quell the revolution on Sunday.

I was doubly frustrated trying to watch the game last night- not only because of ESPN's technical difficulties, but also my own cable kept going in and out during the game. With the low tv ratings MLS seems to get, I'm just happy there's some coverage and most of the games are available online. Also, ESPN has gotten better about the big soccer events, World Cup, Champions league finals, and starting next week they're starting Women's World Cup coverage, which they are showing every match of. So, credit where due.

At 07 September, 2007 15:52, Blogger Sean said...

Kevin Stott may have called a clean game, but seeing as he tried to send off Vanney and then waved it off, and his AR really blew that offside call -- I dunno.

That's more than just, "Ref didn't call fouls I thought he should have."

That's two pretty objective screw-ups.

At 07 September, 2007 16:56, Blogger D said...

Charles: Yeah, a bit harsh may be right. And both teams probably have a negative karma balance at the end of the night. Certainly, we need to look at the overall situation.

I guess the question is: Was last night's game a harbinger that United's most recent run is ending, or an aberration? That's the huge question, and I think there's some evidence both ways. Perhaps we're just entering a small blip phase, which is what I personally believe. I do not expect the full 3 against New England, a draw would do just fine. That would a blip, but a minor one, and I'd be okay with that provided we can finish out the season.

At 07 September, 2007 16:57, Blogger D said...

Sean: I can't fault Stott for not waving off the off-side from the AR, and he did correct his mistake on Vanney (who legitimately earned that yellow). So I'm inclined to let those incidents not reflect negatively of Stott.

At 08 September, 2007 16:57, Blogger L.B. said...

Hey man, I promise not to bring up Troy Perkins' gaffe in Guadalajara as long as he stops making mistakes against Chivas and Chivas USA ;)

Actually, it just struck me as odd that he would make a mistake that he normally doesn't against Chivas and then do something similar against Chivas USA.


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