26 October 2007

Debriefing for Match 11.33: At Chicago Fire

Chicago 1 - 0 DC United

Six Word Novel Recap

One goal down, need healthy forwards.

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

DCist, Graham Hough-Cornwllt: "Neither team created much in the second half, even as United picked up more and more possession and began to push deeper into Fire territory."
The Washington Post, Steven Goff: "The result was, by no means, crippling to United, but it does mean that the four-time champions will need to win the finale of the two-game, total-goals series next Thursday at RFK Stadium"
The Examiner, Criag Stouffer: "Playing with a steady wind at their backs in the first half, the Fire set the tone from the opening kick, pressuring a United team that appeared nervous and hesitant without Emilio and Moreno."
UnitedMania, Mike Martin: "Playing a ridiculously conservative 4-5-1 line up, DC United left themselves open for the Fire to score a painfully easy goal early in the match. Chicago goalie Matt Pickens launched what should have been an easily controllable ball miles up field. Instead United’s young defenseman Devon McTavish allowed the ball to drop and bounce right in front of DC’s penalty area."
MLSNet.com, Tom Hilton:" Rolfe's goal, his first career postseason tally, gave the fourth-seeded Fire -- the last team to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs -- the advantage over the Supporters' Shield winners heading into next Thursday's second leg at RFK Stadium in the nation's capital. "
SoccerAmerica Daily: " Emilio believes he'll be back to 100 percent fitness for the second leg next Thursday at RFK Stadium. The series will be decided on total goals."
ChicagoSports, Luis Arroyave: " Jeff Carroll earned a yellow card in the 22nd minute for taking Blanco down from behind, but the Mexican striker wouldn't bite."
Soccer By Ives: "Should DC United be worried? Well, if they can't win by a goal at RFK Stadium in a decisive game they shouldn't advance anyway. I find it hard to believe DC's confidence will disappear after a close result."
Center Holds It:
"Call ‘keeper Troy Perkins DC’s man of the match. His defense left him for dead on the goal, but he saved two other dead-certain goals at least, most notably his brave challenge when Calen Carr broke through late."
The Offside - DC UNited: "Say what you want about Burch’s ball-watching, or Vanney’s vertical jump issues, but neither of them cost us the game. The death sentence was the 4-5-1, a combination of every possible nightmare for United: no attacking options, unfamiliar roles, conceding the initiative, relying on mistake-free defense."
dcsundevil: "In my opinion, Fred needs to work on his passing accuracy. Four of five times tonight I saw him make a soft, slow pass behind his target. These weren't passes in the air, they were on the ground. Most of United's passes were to the spot that the target player used to be."

The Good
  1. Only one goal down: It'll be hard for me to find much of a silver lining to this result, although given that a tie would have been an acceptable result, I'm fully confident that the team is capable of winning the second game.
  2. Playing Time for Moreno, Luciano: I'm glad both of our forwards weren't so injured that they had to be held out of the game altogether. Moreno looked a bit hesitant at times, but also had some good moves around Chicago players. Hopefully both used this match to shake of some rust and won't play so tentatively next Thursday..
  3. Blanco and the Ref: To say Blanco falls down faster than an epileptic during a laser show would be no small exaggeration. The referees didn't buy most of his acting and pouting. I'm not saying overall that the refs did a good or bad job ...
  4. Tracking back on D: Both Fred and Gomez came back to help defend and try to jump start any offense.

The Bad

  1. Defense: "Awkward looking is an overstatement of the display." D wrote that last week and its no less true today. Soehn seems to change the defensive line every single game, which can't help the defenders establish any understanding of how to play together. Contrast this with how well Chicago's line moved to keep Gomez offside.
  2. Fred: dcsundevil calls him out for his passing, but he was off his game throughout the first half. Without Moreno and Emilio to generate attacks, I'd expected more out of him but he didn't deliver. Either he's make a bad pass or hold on to the ball too much.
  3. The Starting Formation: th4-5-1 telegraphed exactly how DC expected to play from the outset, and I don't see how it particularly suited any of the players. Kpene isn't strong enough on the ball, or pressured defenders enough, to be the sole forward. Gomez didn't support him enough with runs on or off the ball either.
  4. Brian Carrol: Had a noticeably awful game, caught ball watching a number of times.

Man of the Match

None assigned. A tip of the hat to Perkins for his two saves, and a wag of my finger to the rest of team.

Karma Bank

+1 for the season entering the game. +0.5 for two arguable handballs in the box that didn't go our way. +0.5 for further injuries to Moreno and Emilio on a rainy field. +1 change overall, +2 for the season.

Final Thoughts

The second half of this game is next Thursday, and United usually plays much better at home. I'm not buying into the Chicago-has-our-number curse, but if we lose next week like we did two years ago, I may be converted. I fully expext Chicago to completely bunker, for Blanco to spend as much time on his back as on feet, and Rolfe/Barret to expose our lack of speed at the back. In what could be our final game of the year - Soehn has to have his team play less cautiously, look to score early goals, test Chicago with shots from distance, and most importantly, solidify a back line that looks worryingly fragile.

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At 26 October, 2007 15:03, Blogger I-66 said...

If they were going to come out in a 4-5-1, wouldn't a bigger, stronger, better-in-the-air forward (Addlery) been a better choice?

Oh, he wasn't with the team.

At 26 October, 2007 15:35, Blogger Oscar M. said...

We were wondering what Addlery's done to lose any chance at playing time. Would have preferred to see him instead of Kpene.

At 26 October, 2007 15:47, Blogger Charles said...

This game kind of reminded me of the semi-final against NER last year, where they scored early and then DC pressed the rest of the game to no avail.
It seems like DC is owed some luck, and with +2 in the Karma bank hopefully some of that can be cashed out next week.

Despite the loss, I think it was good to hold out Moreno and Emilio for most of the game. It looks like they will be at full strength next week.

Another striker instead of Brain Caroll in the game might have helped. But I'm not convinced Addlery would have added anything.

At 26 October, 2007 23:18, Blogger Jonathan Geissler said...

Is Fred a right-footed player? Because I've always thought that he was a lefty, but after watching the game last night, he seems to primarily cut to his right foot every time he's in a 1-on-1 situation.

At 27 October, 2007 12:02, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of last year's problems came back to rear their ugly head. Some of the problems of early this year reappeared at just the wrong time.

I watched that game and was left with some questions. They are:

1. Why would we go with a 4-5-1 when that lone striker has yet to find the net in his MLS career? Isn't that give-up soccer? We clearly aren't deep enough on offense.

2. Why is Boswell not playing? I feel like he was given a really quick hook. Not only did we need him in the air on defense, it might have been nice to have him on offense for one of the 1,000 set pieces that were squandered.

3. How can a dominant team like DCU continue to allow its opponents to take the air out of the game? Clearly we need space and time on the ball to get goals. If the other side won't give it to us, we need to find a way to take it. The solution is not playing predictable "force it wide to Olsen" or "post up Emilio in the center" crap.


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