13 September 2007

Debriefing for Match 12.25: Real Salt Lake

D.C. United 2 : 1 Real Salt Lake

Six Word Novel Recap

Thank you alumni, playoff spot clinched.

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Washington Times, John Haydon: "Luciano Emilio continues to close in on Raul Diaz Arce's single-season franchise record of 23 goals set in 1996'"
The Washington Post, Paul Tenorio: "But besides the early goal, United struggled in the first half. Real Salt Lake dominated the midfield, dictating possession in the first 45 minutes while outshooting United 8-5 and winning six corners to United's one."
The Examiner, Craig Stouffer: "Thanks to Luciano Emilio’s third consecutive game with a goal and a penalty-kick save from Troy Perkins, D.C. is nine games without a loss and became the first team to clinch a playoff berth after a 2-1 win Wednesday in front of 14,655 at RFK Stadium."
DCist: "Soehn expressed his frustrations during halftime, lamenting a "predictable" attack. Guy-Roland Kpene got the start in place of Jaime Moreno (on call with the Bolivian national team), but performed ineffectively."
Soccer America, Ridget Mahoney: "Gomez's failure illustrates that penalty kicks, which are usually taken by Moreno and make up a substantial chunk of his league-record 110 goals, aren't necessarily gimmees."
Salt Lake Tribune, Jimmy LaRue:
"We give good teams good games, and for some reason, we give them away, and that's why we're on the bottom, and they're on top."
Daily Utah Chronicle, Jon Gilbert: "
The Man of the Match was Christian Gomez. D.C. United's midfielder used his head to notch the game-winning goal in the 73rd minute to put away a stubborn RSL team still looking for its first playoff berth in franchise history."
Desert Morning News, David Driver: "
Alecko Eskandarian, a striker for Real Salt Lake, used the words "crazy" and "bizarre" to describe his first game as a visiting player at RFK Stadium. Two other words that can be used are "road" and "loss."
Booked for Dissent: SE Podcast posted
An American's View, Brian Garrison: "
DC United picked up all three points last night by being able to adapt to its situation, an ability that good teams have and call upon when they aren't able to bring out the skill. United did that last night."
The Edgell Supporters: On to the match itself. 3 games in 7 days is tough. 7 points in 7 days is phenomenal.
Quarter Volley: "The best word I can come up with to describe last night’s events at RFK Stadium is “strange.” Jorge Gonzalez, the center referee, made some strange calls."
The Fullback Files: "This is the type of game that I would have expected to drop points in early on this the season. But confident teams find a way to win and it's encouraging that despite the royal ref-job, despite RSL's strong play, despite the tired legs, the boys did just enough to get the three points."
Fifty-Fifty Ball: "DC gratefully takes the three points and continues to distance themselves from the pack for the Supporter's Shield."
US Soccer Players, Ian Plenderleith: "We all know that referees are as prone to error as the players they arbitrate. But Major League Soccer has to take action against the kind of blatantly poor officiating on display on East Capitol Street last night."

The Good

Let me preface my "analysis" with full disclosure: I was not able to make it to yesterday's game, and missed the opening of the second half while I was grilling up dinner.
  1. Taking Control of the Game: Now, I don't mean controlling possession, instead the team didn't let poor officiating dictate the result. Much of it goes to Perkins for saving the penalty kick but I didn't see any indication that the players were letting the referee's poor job (both ways) really get to them.
  2. 49 Points: Is it time to start really believing in this team and stop couching our support so that we have some plausible excuses to point to that we knew this team just didn't quite measure up after all? During the 1997 and 2004 runs you could feel the confidence as you walked into RFK for a game, you could see it in the players and how they played. I felt it on Sunday, and again watching yesterday, this team is peaking just right.
  3. Tom Soehn's Substitutions: His subbing pattern was really hard to figure out early in the season. I remember watching the Houston game with D and Kinney and around the 60th minute predicting Simms was going to come in. "What for?" aksed D, to which I could only reply "I have no idea." The coach is using his subs much better than before, and has found a way to keep everyone fresh and performing well. The emergence of Burch and McTavish in the back, coupled with the strong play of Simms have arguable made this easier - since he has more talent to work with.
  4. Honoring the Alumns: Just goes to show what a classy organization United is. Now, how did Mr. BobbyBoswell.com fail to organize a homecoming dance for this match up?

The Bad

  1. The Goal: How Beckerman was given so much space and time that close to goal is inexcusable.
  2. The PK Call: I've never seen a defender get called for being pushed down in the box by an opponent. Initially I thought there must have been some retaliation, or kick towards Talley on Mctavish's part but saw no evidence on the replays. We burned one karma with Troy's save.
  3. The Non-Offside Call: Emilio and Gomez were both even with the defender but the goal in the 55th minute was taken back.
  4. Yellow Card Peril: We'll be missing 3 starters - Gomez, Fred, and Olsen, leaving the midfield cupboard looking thin going into the Chicago match. Who gets the nod? Can we start Vanney as a wide defender and push Burch forward for one game?

Man of the Match

Perkins, because its easy to give when your keeper saves a PK, plus he stopped Alecko numerous times before the penalty kick. Honorable mentions go to Emilio and Gomez for the headers.

Karma Bank

+2 for the season entering the game. The saved penalties cancel each other out. -1 for Mctavish not getting a second yellow with his "foul" that led to the penalty call. That's -1 for the game, meaning we have one karma to burn (at +2) for the season.

Final Thoughts

Cross "clinching a playoff spot" off the todo list, which leaves the team free to concentrate on securing the Supporters Shield and home field advantage. Seven points clear of second place gives us some breathing room, but hopefully not enough to let complacency creep in. Frankly, seven out of a possible nine points in one week is friggin awesome. Yes, we're demanding fans and hate settling for less than the full nine but the coaching staff have managed the roster well and can take a well earned break.

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At 14 September, 2007 01:06, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shouldn't it be +1 for the ref actually calling the PK, -1 for him not getting the second yellow?

At 14 September, 2007 09:50, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're not seven points clear of second place. We're zero points clear of second place. Unless you really think Chivas is going to drop six points in their two games in hand, in which case I want some of what you've taken.

At 14 September, 2007 12:06, Anonymous BigKris said...

For "The Bad", I think you have to account fo the fact that we came out flat in the first half and (again) played down to an opponent with less talent. I'm worried about this because I think there's a chance this bites us in the first round of the playoffs against the Crew or (shudder) the Fire.

At 14 September, 2007 13:09, Blogger The Bird said...

"We burned one karma with Troy's save."

I'm not so sure that was karma. A great save, to be sure, but did anyone else feel that Perkins' save looked almost too easy? Like he seemed to have a preternatural sense of where the ball was going?

Here's a quote from a story that Steinberg wrote about Troy last summer :

Perkins was not chosen in the 2004 MLS draft and signed with United, where he began the same routine, pestering Eskandarian to take extra shots on him after practice.

"And I remember his first month or two on the team it was so easy for me to score on him, it was hilarious -- I almost felt bad," Eskandarian said. "And I'd be like, 'Dude, have you had enough?' and he was like, 'No, 10 more.' And we kept shooting, kept shooting every day after practice, and sooner or later a couple months went by and I'm like, 'Man it's not as easy to score on him anymore.'"

I wonder if all that practice stopping Alecko shots gave Troy a bit of an edge? Of course, the same could be said about Gomez and Rimando. If Emilio had taken the PK instead, I think the scoreline would have been 3-1. Just a thought...

At 14 September, 2007 14:51, Blogger Oscar M. said...

Correction - We're 6 points ahead of Chivas, until they play their 2 games, granted.

I think we burned Karma because Troy hardly ever stops them. Having Esky take the shoot must have helped, but you could argue Gomez vs Nick would be similar.

Yes - I should have added that we looked bad at the start of the 2nd half, but I'd noted I missed the beginning of it.

At 14 September, 2007 15:07, Blogger I-66 said...

Chivas could drop points at Colorado on short rest at altitude. I'm not saying they'll lose, but it's feasible that they could draw.

At 14 September, 2007 15:30, Blogger Charles said...

I believe that was the first PK Troy Perkins has saved. Kudos to him, it's great to get that first one off your back. On the other hand, saving PKs is a sort of specialty for Rimando. He's the keeper I would want in a shootout.

At 14 September, 2007 17:31, Blogger Sean said...

With the PK against DC, everyone sees McTavish getting slammed to the ground. I said this on Insider, and I'll say it here:

What you need to look for (and what the ref saw) is that McTavish tugged the attacker's shirt. The attacker was closest to the ball, and the tug may have arguably pulled him off the ball (and the shot). And in soccer, it's the first foul that matters. Anything after is retaliation or misconduct, not a foul.

I'm not saying it's an amazing call, but it's what the referee saw.

At 17 September, 2007 08:57, Blogger Bob said...

"Is it time to start really believing in this team and stop couching our support so that we have some plausible excuses to point to that we knew this team just didn't quite measure up after all?"

OH...MY...GAWD! Is this really what I've been reading this blog for all season? So that you have a forum for and a record of statements that make yourself look as good as possible and as insightful as possible no matter what happens at the end of the season? You may have seen this sentence as harmless, but for me, I lost a lot of respect for this blog when I read that.

I am a fan; I believe in the team no matter what. Identifying as a DC United supporter is a thing of pride, especially at a time when supporting almost any other team is almost as embarrassing as identifying as a Republican. I am not going to make excuses just so that I can save face in front of some idiot Red Bulls or Revs fans should something not go our way come playoff time.

At 17 September, 2007 09:13, Blogger D said...

Bob -- I think Oscar's actually taking a shot at me here, not actually describing an overall philosophy. I have been rather conservative in what I say, and I think a lot of it stems from what happened last year during the unbeaten streak. Oscar was probably one of the most vocal people behind the scenes in the Freezer debates when I kept DC in for an extended period of time. He may be right, I have tended toward the conservative, perhaps overly so, in my analysis. Don't worry about it.

At 17 September, 2007 15:39, Blogger Oscar M. said...

Yes - that line was somewhat directed at D, but its also a vibe I've picked up talking to other fans. Maybe I wrote it too harshly, but I wanted to make the point that we're watching a damn good United team. We're what, five games away from the end of the season? How much playoff/championship swagger have we been hearing?


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