01 September 2007

First Impressions - FC Dallas 0 : 4 D.C. United

There are a lot of things going right for United. Perkins has regained his form, the emergence of McTavish and Burch, the gold tinted boots of Emilio... but perhaps the biggest thing going right for United right now is Ben Olsen. If I had to pick United's Player of the Year, it would be Ben. When I first saw him on the wing against CD Olimpia, I thought it was a stop-gap measure at best, a horrible mistake at worst. However, I was proven wrong, and his brace tonight is simply the most obvious benefits of someone who's work creating high pressure and in controlling play frequently isn't recorded in the box score.

The return of Bobby Boswell should be noted, as Robert played well after a slightly rusty opening ten minutes. However, in the 68th minute he had an excellent series of tackles of Oduro, first poking the ball away then winning the battle to control it. That impressed me more than his goal-line clearance, which was incredibly important but basically required him not to get out of the way of the ball. The sequence later was a nice moment. Mr. Urban has left a comment on this blog after we wrote about the team missing Boswell's abilities as a sweeper, wondering if that wasn't precisely the problem, and that the team wanted Boswell to mark tighter and not play behind to clean up messes. Tonight showed he could do both.

That being said, I'm tempted to give Man of the Match to Marc Burch, who was creating havoc all night. For all of the talk about Vanney's left foot, it is interesting to see Burch continuing to take corners even with Vanney on the field. And they are dangerous corners. I can't remember the last time I actually anticipated seeing a player send in a cross, or play a corner, from the flanks the way Burch can. All of that and pretty decent defense in this game as well, as he stayed with Denilson well when Denilson would roam to the left flank.

A good night, and a decent result. Again, the goal from now to New England on the 9th was five points. This is a great way to start playing these games.

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At 02 September, 2007 00:49, Anonymous Dave Lifton said...

I'm one step ahead of you...


At 02 September, 2007 09:02, Anonymous Bill Urban said...

called out before the morning coffee, this could get ugly...

The tackle on Oduro was very impressive. He's far quicker than Boswell, and just about anyone else, really, which makes the timing of the tackle that much more of an accomplishment.

Still not certain that I would characterize Boswell as having played "as a sweeper" against FCD, but despite the 4-0 scoreline he and Vanney, and McTavish in place of Emilio, had a lot of work to do. Dallas didn't try to play balls behind United as often as they might have, but their midfield has license to interchange positions at will, creating a swirl of hoops with which back fours have to deal.

Other than a few instances, including the goal line clearance, United kept things tight, marked Ruiz very well, often Boswell's role, passed off FCD midfielders to one another in proper zonal marking fashion, and kept Troy relatively free of trouble.

Notice how rarely Boswell came forward to join the attack? I would hazard a guess that one of the reasons why Boswell was dropped was his persistence in coming forward when prudence and caution dictate staying home.

In short, last night, he played as a central defender, tight on Ruiz when necessary, pinching in to cover for Vanney or drifting wide to do the same for Namoff, no unnecessary fairying about with the ball at his feet and no surging runs into the opposition half in the forty-fourth minute.

How long this state of affairs lasts is anyone's guess, but he looked very much like the player United supporters had come to respect after last year, without all the "peripherals" that have characterized some of his poorer performances this season.

At 02 September, 2007 11:03, Anonymous Red State-Blues City said...

Anyone else think Bill's description of what had gone awry with Boz's game might also fit Brian Carrol to a T. He seems to get in trouble when he tries to do too much. And with D-Mid being the deepest position on the team, and Clyde picking up his game in all the right places, someone needs to preach the gospel of simplicity and doing what you do well oftenest to United's Iron Man if he wants to get back in the 11. He's a good player when he plays the simple ball and concentrates on tackling and breaking up the other teams offense. When he tries to play-make too much, that's when trouble starts.

At 02 September, 2007 11:32, Blogger Paul said...

A decent result.


At 02 September, 2007 11:45, Blogger Bob said...

Who can explain why Simms was even listed as a choice for MOTM on the DCU website or why he has 76% of the vote currently? Burch isn't even a choice. What's going on?

At 02 September, 2007 22:34, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't remember the last time I actually anticipated seeing a player send in a cross, or play a corner, from the flanks the way Burch can.

You really weren't in town for the Etcheverry years, were you?


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