09 September 2007

First Impressions - DC United 4 : 2 New England Revolution

What an odd game.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad we won. Especially since I felt like United did enough to win. But the game had all the hallmarks of a match that could go anywhere, and probably bad places. It was a feeling I had the moment I saw Abbey Okulaja was the center ref. And the game was transparently called against us. I mean, look, United are no angels, but neither is New England. We're talking about a team with Pat Noonan, Jay Heaps, and Shalrie Joseph after all. How did Abbey see a 20-5 foul margin against United?

Well, the fact is New England played Abbey like a fiddle. Every time a Revolution player was on the ball near a DC United marker, a strange hyper-local seismic event sent the Revolution player dutifully to the grass, and Abbey would puff on his whistle and call for the free kick. Not every time, but frequently enough that the Revolution seemed stunned when even the slightest foul didn't go their way.

And it was damn frustrating, and damn hot, and it had all the hallmarks of a game where United could easily have said "you know, to hell with it, nothing is going right, let's pack it in." Down 2-1, the best I was hoping for was a draw. That United rallied to win was a testament that their belief in themselves was stronger than my belief in them. I am duly ashamed of that fact. But United did control most of this game. There were moments (oh, how disinterested did DC seem minutes 46-50?) that United seemed to be on the verge of fading neatly into the background, but instead they would rally and regroup and suddenly be laying siege to Matt Reis. And that was beautiful, and lovely to watch. Three of those goals were quality events. And yes, Revolution faithful, one of them may have been off-side. That being said, I'm still not sure that New England actually got the whole ball over the line, but I have to defer to the AR in that situation. Replays for me still are inconclusive. So New England got some luck, some crappy officiating, and at least one doubtful goal. How many breaks did they need? Apparently several more...

It was a one of those games that DC United normally lose. You know, the outplay the other team but lose when all the breaks go to the opposition type of game? The "let's all belly-ache about Abbey" type of game. But United won. That's a lot more fun. And, dare I say it, a lot more surprising.

But let's face it, Abbey sucks. Is there anyone who will speak up for him? Please do so, because no official has been as routinely disappointing to fans of all teams as Abbey. It makes me so mad I haven't even talked about what I liked about United's play (and there was lots to like, and some to dislike). So I'm just going to vent about it now, even in the first blush of victory, and devote the debrief to analysis.

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At 09 September, 2007 21:46, Anonymous john said...

What the hell was Josh Gros doing out there? I didn't expect to see him until next season, if ever!

At 09 September, 2007 21:51, Blogger Oscar M. said...

Nicol was so surprised about one call, that he got himself thrown out of the game in the 2nd half.

I was surprised too by the result. After TT scored at the end of the first half, I was very nervous when the 2nd started. But the team rallied back - Moreno gets his first goal in the run of play, and Emilio gets another brace. Dare we dream that he'll match lassiter's single season record???

And bringing Bobby, Bennie, and Brian off the bench (the killer B's?) we're all good subs. BC made me nervous, but with his run and assist, he acquitted himself well. What a stark contrast to the quality of subs that New England was able to make.

Four points clear of NE - and on the quiet side a few of us started chanting First Place to end the game.

At 09 September, 2007 22:20, Blogger Kyle said...

The ball was over the line on the NE goal. I have the slightly out of focus pictures to prove it.

Also, I'm not afraid to say I have a huge man-crush on Marc Burch.

At 09 September, 2007 22:31, Anonymous brew1b said...

The ref for the US - Brazil match surely had to be worse than the DCU - Revs game. Admittedly, I didn't see the DCU game, but man the guy sucked.

Great result for DCU - I was not expecting this result. Once again, DC have pulled a startling result when the odds were against them.


At 09 September, 2007 22:53, Anonymous bdr said...

I agree completely: weirdest (and coolest) game in a long time.

Lots and lots of new plot points.

At 09 September, 2007 23:05, Blogger Charles said...

I listened to the game on WMET 1160 and the call on United's second goal was the best ever:

"Gomez plays the ball through to Emilio. Emilio shoots. Rebound-Moreno. MORENO! MORENO! MORENO! MORENO! MO-REN-OOOO!!!!!!!!! Jaime Moreno socres!...who took I think 15 touches before putting it in!"

At 09 September, 2007 23:59, Anonymous GUTuna said...

Charles - I love Limarzi on WMET too. His call on the fourth goal was like a long pause after the goal call and then..."That's like the most beautiful play Carroll has ever had for United."


At 10 September, 2007 00:18, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony Limarzi also brought this interesting tidbit up: Abbey Okulaja was somehow named the Referee of the Year in 2004.

He said something like 'Maybe it's gone to his head because he's been known to have made some mistakes.'

At 10 September, 2007 08:16, Blogger Bob said...

I brought a friend to the match yesterday who wasn't familiar to the team. I was explaining to him about Burch and his wicked left foot and about two seconds later, Burch sends in a cross that resulted in that Gros almost-goal in third minute where Reis and the defender miscommunicated and the defender chested it down almost to Gros's feet.

Can we give BC TWO assists for that 4th goal setup? Fantastic!

Random sighting at RFK yesterday - Thomas Roengren having a cigarette in the concourse at halftime.

At 10 September, 2007 08:47, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed, it was a weirdly wonderful game, with Abbey contributing to the weirdness.

The first DCU goal was onside. Their right-side back kept Fred on. Good catch by Rongen during the broadcast that was confirmed by a Zapruderesque frame-by-frame analysis.

Similar work confirmed a mistake-free game by the ARs. If only the center had done as well

At 10 September, 2007 09:09, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The third United goal was onside, too. Go back and examine the replays, not only is he level with the man trying to mark him (good luck there, pal), there's a Revs defender by the post to Reis' left.

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

I particularly loved when Reise and I think Heeps raised their hands to complain of offsides on the third goal and then turned to see their own player on the post and slowly lowered them.


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