29 September 2007

First Impressions - DC United 4 : 1 Toronto FC

Popular Soccer Cliche #2 - "A tale of two halves." I hate the phrase. It seems like such an excuse for lazy writing. All games are two halved, and inevitably things change at half time. Of course the players and coaches adjust tactics, strategy, and personnel. Of course two halves will be different, as players fatigue at different rates and temperatures change.

That being said, I give everyone a pass to use this cliche for this match. United was a tentative, discombobulated offense, occasionally flickering into life, but usually seeming out of sorts. The second half with the additions of Olsen and Moreno saw United suddenly become the dominating force we dream of. That is what we want to see, the unfairly highly standard by which this team is judged. Of course, we know it is possible.

This should illustrate a key point. For all the discussion about United's depth this year, it is perhaps true to say that while we can play without any of the major XI for a game or so, once you remove them things are difficult. We can lose Moreno here, Olsen there, Gomez somewhere else, but missing all three is something this team can't handle. What I'm saying is that while we have reserves and substitutes who can play well when incorporated with the other starting XI, we don't have a starting XI on the bench. Of course, no team does, but I think it is something to keep in mind.

Still, United did what they had to do for this match. Three points, and assert domination heading into the last three games of the season. 53 points in 27 games played is tremendous. Emilio with 20 goals is tremendous. Moreno extending the all-time scoring lead is tremendous. But still we haven't won anything. Yet it feels like we're on the right track. Stunning.

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7 Comments:

At 29 September, 2007 22:54, Anonymous Grunthos said...

At halftime, I thought Soehn wouldn't make any subs, just try to get the team playing more intelligent soccer. I guess that's why he's the coach and I'm not. But that second half performance was everything we could want from the team. Those who weren't watching the match will say, "Oh, well, that's just Toronto FC"; and they would be wrong. Toronto played a strong match, making up for lack of talent with excellent team shape and aggressive athleticism - but once we got everyone out there and got serious, it was still a steamroller.

The depth, as you point out, is really almost nonexistent. One extra center back, and one extra defensive midfielder. That's it. But the way the team has come together, maybe that's all we need.

 
At 29 September, 2007 23:16, Blogger Sean said...

Does any MLS team have real depth, though?

18 Senior Contracts means you can do a full XI and bench with just senior contracts, and there are ten developmental players on top of that. The developmentals are a crap shoot and the seniors don't include resting people, injuries, and so on, to say nothing to the salary cap.

It makes it hard to field a MLS team that plays in anything more than MLS, but we all knew that already.

 
At 29 September, 2007 23:38, Anonymous Goose said...

It's funny how being down 1-0 to Toronto is less scary than being up 2-1 on Guadalajara.

 
At 30 September, 2007 00:39, Anonymous Nick said...

Tonight was great but Tuesday is what its all about. Can we finally get over the hump and win the big one in Mexico? That is what is hanging over this particular team: a legacy of great MLS regular season performances and disastrous tournament collapses. If we exercise our demons on tuesday, I would expect us to roll through the playoffs at home and take MLS cup. There will never be a better chance to do something big than on tuesday. Chivas is in absolute disarray, and is more than ripe for a beat down. I want this team to define itself as a big-game performer, the way the 90s team was. We need to see it on tuesday, though, to be able to even start talking about a return to such heights...

 
At 30 September, 2007 01:08, Anonymous jeff said...

Huge result, especially in light of Chivas USA's tie against Chicago. We've got a leg up again...

 
At 30 September, 2007 09:25, Anonymous Still Kicking said...

As a Toronto FC fan and blogger, I observe the game last night as reflecting the quality of DC rather than the weaknesses of TFC. No denying the weaknesses and the length of the road ahead of Toronto, but it also bodes well that TFC has played well against DC (over 3 games, 3 halves by my count). Glad to have DC set the standard, I am cheering for you in Mexico and beyond..

 
At 30 September, 2007 12:18, Blogger tucksider said...

nice to see Goats Jr. drop some points in the Supporters Shield race, but i'm really hoping Chicago doesn't finish ahead of KC and end up playing in the East bracket. steamroller or not, i don't want to see the Fire in the first round.

 

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