10 September 2007

Debriefing for Match 12.24: New England Revolution

D.C. United 4 : 2 New England Revolution

Six Word Novel Recap

Four goals equals four point lead.

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Washington Times, John Haydon: "Moreno scored his first goal in the run of play in nearly a year, and Emilio scored two more to bring his league-leading total to 18 as United defeated the New England Revolution 4-2 in a game littered with questionable calls...'The first goal was lucky,' Emilio said. 'On the second goal, I was the only one on the field who believed Carroll would get that cross to me.'"
The Washington Post, Paul Tenorio: "With the win, United moves four points ahead of New England atop the Eastern Conference standings and is one step closer to the Supporters' Shield."
The Examiner, Craig Stouffer: "Fred opened the scoring in the 31st minute, but the Revolution (12-6-6) reclaimed the lead with a Taylor Twellman smash just before halftime and a Jay Heaps score on a messy corner kick 10 minutes after halftime."
The Boston Globe, Frank Dell'Appa: "The league's all-time leading scorer, Jaime Moreno, scored the tying goal for D.C., and the league's leading scorer this season, Luciano Emilio, provided the third and fourth scores. Nicol disputed the goal that gave D.C. a 3-2 lead, contending referee Abiodun Okulaja should have awarded the Revolution a free kick instead of allowing play to continue following a clash between United's Ben Olsen and the Revolution's Khano Smith...'We can't set the team up to play against the officials,' Nicol said."
The Boston Globe, Frank Dell'Appa: "'Every time we come down here it's something,' Revolution defender Jay Heaps said. 'The goals scored when the linesman could have called it, I can count on more than one hand. It's a shame. The goal they scored when it was 0-0 was clearly offside.'"
UnitedMania, Jimmy LaRoue: " Most teams can't bring three players off the bench with national team experience. DC United can. While lineup choices are always subject to debate, one thing is clear: United coach Tom Soehn is keeping his players fresh. "
Soccer New England, Sean Donahue: "The New England Revolution came back from a one-goal deficit, but allowed three unanswered goals to D.C. United in wild 4-2 loss Sunday that saw the Revs slip further out of first place and Steve Nicol get ejected."
MLSNet, Charles Boehm: "United were coming into the game just three days removed from a 2-2 draw at Chivas USA that ended a six-game winning streak, with a cross-country road trip in between. The Revolution hadn't played a league match in two weeks, but were winners of two in a row and five of their last seven. United's ongoing center back shuffle continued as Bobby Boswell gave way to Devon McTavish in the heart of the D.C. defense, while Josh Gros was given a start at left midfield as coach Tom Soehn rested Ben Olsen at the outset. "
MLSNet, Chris Snear: "'Don't get me wrong, D.C. is a good team. But it's even harder when we have certain people -- I'm just going to leave it like it is. It won't get me anywhere,' said a frustrated Nicol. "What are you supposed to do? We can set up to play against teams but we can't set up to play against officials.' New England's Khano Smith came in hard and took down United's Ben Olsen almost directly at the center line. As Smith got up to take the ball the other way, Olsen subtly clipped him in the back of the leg, which went uncalled by the referee. 'I'm not talking about a hairline decision one way or the other,' said Nicol. 'I'm talking about a free kick that everybody within 20 yards could see what it was. Not one of them saw it? That's what they'll probably tell you. And if they did see it -- are you kidding me?'"
MLSNet, Charles Boehm: "Moreno was the center of attention before the match as United staged a moving video tribute in celebration of his MLS-record 109 career goals, and he responded with an imperious performance as the linchpin of the Black-and-Red attack. His contribution was made all the more remarkable when Soehn revealed that Bolivian legend has been hampered by an illness that prompted the use of intravenous fluids before the match."
An American's View, Brian Garrison: "As a whole, the team looked better than they did against Chivas on Thursday night...(I cannot believe that I am typing this) the final nail was hammered in when Brian Carroll was brought on for Clyde Simms. Carroll is no favorite of mine and infact, before today, I would have been happy to see him be shipped off to San Jose. Today however, the guy stepped up and showed signs of his former self."
QuarterVolley, I-66: "And really, how hot is Luciano Emilio right now? 18 goals in 23 matches, and, I believe, 16 in his last 15."
Soccer Insider, Dan "The Bog Man" Steinberg: "..for a while there I was wondering whether DCU would outscore the local NFL team."
BlkDgRd, BDR: "United needs the nine days off following this Wednesday game v Salt Lake, which makes the resilience shown after going down 1-2 that much more remarkable...Okulaja must be thankful for Terry Vaughn, the only man who keeps Abby from the title of Shittiest Referee in MLS, though D implies Abby is crooked." [Note: Clarification Below]

The Good

  1. Get Up and Get and Get Down ("There's not a minute to spare..."): Okay, I know I was not alone in my despair when United gave up the second goal to New England to go down 2-1. That United fought back, and then stuck the dagger in, despite their third game in nine days, spoke volumes about this team. More fight than I expected, or even had any sort of a right to expect. What's more, they fought back within minutes to gain the equalizer, and then kept pressing, and pressing, and then finished it off. Simply amazing.
  2. Brian Carroll: It's been a long time since Brian's been on this side of the ledger, but watching him push by Jay Heaps was a wonderful thing. What I like most is that, if you download the SE Podcast, you can hear his rationale for making that run... it wasn't to score, he was heading to the corner to waste time. Then he saw someone making a run and sent in the cross. His first instinct was right, and his reason for deviating from the plan was right. Nice to see that. Yes, I've been part of the "What the hell is up with Brian Carroll" chorus. Please let this be a resurgence, and not a momentary blip. He still hasn't displaced Clyde Simms yet, who had some key moves to clog up the Revs' midfield play.
  3. Substitutions: Earlier, which was needed (yes, Fred was dog tired by about the 50th minute). And I can't remember a substitution like Boswell for Gomez, which was exactly the kind of defensive move we needed then.
  4. Honoring Moreno, who then says "Screw that, I'm scoring my own goal": Nice to see that highlight package of Moreno, including a Dave Johnson electronic remix of "It's in the Net" calls. Opening that package with "You got burned Johnny Walker" was also brilliant. And yes, Moreno did take a ton of touches before scooping the ball over Matt Reis. But here's the thing: Earlier in the match Moreno had taken two shots from un-Moreno like positions. Does Reis bite as fast as he did if Moreno doesn't take those shots earlier? Probably, but still, Moreno actually was a bit more selfish overall in this game. Nice to see.
  5. Touch: Much better this game than last, as balls weren't rebounding three yards off our midfielder's shins. Simply home-field advantage, or perhaps that extra bit of concentration? You decide.
  6. The AR Goal Call: I didn't like it, and still haven't been convinced, but the AR was correctly positioned on the goal line and made a courageous call. He deserves credit for it. He was probably the only person in the stadium who could make that call properly.

The Bad

  1. Abbey: I know I went off on this already, but here's the thing. Abbey isn't crooked, he's just gullible and poorly positioned. Nicol and Heaps were both complaining about calls (I mean, seriously, Heaps?!?) and the thing is... they're right to complain. Abbey has an amazing knack of calling a game that's unfair to both teams. I just don't understand him. I may not agree with Prus or Hall or Marrufo all the time, but they rarely botch things and single-handedly as Abbey.
  2. Vanney on Twellman: Vanney's mistake on the Revolution's first goal wasn't after Twellman settled, but before. He was a good three steps closer to the line than Twellman, which forced him to move to his left as the ball came in. Twellman settled and then moved to Vanney's right, easily shaking him off and opening up the half-volley shot. If Vanney is even with Twellman earlier, momentum doesn't screw him over like that.
  3. Perkins: There was a moment in the second half when McTavish made a desperate header over the crossbar to deny a revolution shot. The problem was Perkins, who was a bit shaky in this match. When he's on, his aggressive instincts are perfect. In this match, he was caught out a few times, and on the play mentioned had offered a weak punch at a ball that was quickly settled by New England. That is what you get with Troy, and I'll take this moment of bad with all the good.
  4. Burch on the Right: Marc spent at least half an hour on the right side in the first half, and I don't know why. It seemed ineffective at best. Maybe it was just to get a look, or perhaps to deal with McTavish and Vanney's pairing in the middle. Still, put him on the left.

Man of the Match

Moreno, who was key not only with his goal but frequently holding the ball well for United, and sent multiple players springing free (though he missed Josh Gros on a run that everyone in the stadium but Jaime saw.) Merit awards to McTavish, Simms, Emilio, Carroll, and Olsen.

Karma Bank

+1 for the season entering the game. -1 for avoiding an off-side call that might have been correct, but would have been easily given. +1 for Abbey's calling every dive that New England gave (my own personal count is that there were 8 legitimate DC fouls, 5 of a borderline nature, and the remaining seven were ridiculous). +1 for that third goal (when you could see Gomez slide along the top of the box to catch Olsen's eye, and you knew it was going to happen). That's +1 for the game, meaning we have two karma to burn (at +2) for the season.

Final Thoughts

Four points on New England for the Supporter's Shield, but none on Chivas if they win all their games in hand. United will drop points in their remaining games, but so will everyone else. We'll certainly need all the points on New England, and perhaps might need Chivas to stumble for a real edge. Here are the remaining games for Houston, Chivas, DC, Dallas, and New England.

D.C. United: RSL, @CHI, TFC, @KC, CHI, CLB
New England Revolution: FCD, @NY, COL, @CHI, CLB, @TFC
C.D. Chivas USA: LA, @COL, KC, CHI, @RSL, @FCD, COL, HOU
F.C. Dallas: @NE, CHI, @LA, HOU, @CLB, CHV, KC
Houston Dynamo: @LA, @FCD, LA, RSL, @CHV

Here's how I figure pessimistically figure it:
Houston will get 11 of their15 points (for 57 points)
New England will get 13 of a maximum 18 points (for 55 points)
C.D. Chivas USA will get 15 of a maximum 24 points (for 55 points)
FC Dallas will get 13 of their 21 max (for 52 points)

Which means United will need at least 12 points in their remaining games to gain the Supporter's Shield. And this is a team that could feasibly drop points against RSL. Sure, some of the matches are "should wins" (home to Toronto) but I remember feeling similarly about home matches with Columbus in the past, and the Chicago matches don't strike me as particularly easy. Which means that this match against RSL is, strangely, a win we'll need to get. A win we'll need to get without Moreno (on International Duty), on a night when we honor Eddie Pope, and when we face Rimando and Eskandarian at RFK.

We're in the driver's seat for the Supporter's shield, but the road is still slippery. Fortunately, it is just as slippery for everyone (except perhaps Houston, who fortunately have huge games against Chivas and Dallas on the road to even out a cupcake home schedule)

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At 10 September, 2007 11:50, Blogger Bob said...

I meant to go on record with my earlier comment by saying that I never doubted that we could even the score, but I certainly couldn't imagine winning by two.a

At 10 September, 2007 12:12, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We're in the driver's seat for the Supporter's shield, but the road is still slippery." Who at the start of the season could have imagined that sentence appearing in DCenters... Vamos!

At 10 September, 2007 12:24, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Twelman is beating Emilio for GOTW

At 10 September, 2007 13:14, Blogger Brian said...

You misspelled Brian on his bullet point. Brain?

At 10 September, 2007 13:28, Blogger D said...

Bob: I was in the same boat. I was hoping for the draw.

Anon-K: True, I certainly thought after the season start that the defense of the shield was unlikely. Very unlikely. And Twellman's goal was probably a better goal, it just ultimately meant less.

Brian: You are correct. It will be corrected.

At 12 September, 2007 10:12, Anonymous Bootsy Collins said...

You've screwed your math up here. You "pessimistically figure" that Houston will get 11 of their last 15 points; I agree there's a good chance of that. You then say "(for 57 points)," which would suggest they have 46 now. Only problem: they have 42 points now. 11 more points for Houston would put them at 53, making New England and Chivas (at your predicted 55 points) the teams we need to worry about.


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