26 October 2007

First Impressions - Chicago Fire 1 : 0 D.C. United

In the middle of the country, where I am, it is a cold and dreary looking night. I felt alone in the bar where I sat. Around me people played Buzztime trivia and gazed half-heartedly at the Red Sox-Rockies game. They were kind enough to put the game on the TV closest to my table, and for a moment I was glad. Until I saw that we had no Emilio, and no Moreno. Kpene can not be held responsible for 40 minutes of few chances... our midfield simply didn't know how to play the ball in. A cross? A play up the middle? Denied the comfortable views of Moreno and Emilio, they were confounded. It wasn't that Chicago stopped the United attack, but that the United attack never found a way to coalesce. We needed them in the game just to have a way to figure out what to do.

As for the goal, I believe a certain blog pointed out that one thing we get from Bobby Boswell is a good defensive presence in the air. Tonight feels like we payed for not having that presence, as Vanney was flat out beat on the header that put Rolfe in alone on goal. If this game is frustrating, it is because we saw all of the things that we've seen all season in one game. Vanney slow and out-played in the middle. Burch getting the ball taken from him while hesitating over the ball. McTavish a shade too loose in his marking. Gomez vanishing at the start (although he did find a way to assert himself later). Carroll meandering around the field. All the things that annoyed us at one point or another were there tonight, but the real problem was that I never felt like we were trying to come out with a lead. Maybe Tom Soehn had a good tactical plan he felt he could execute, but when you bench the best attacker in the league this season, and the all-time greatest goal scorer, you have to wonder if that doesn't send some sort of message. To me, it certainly spelled doom, but I knew I was tending toward the overly dramatic. Still, when the rain came, it seemed like a test of mojo. We win in the rain, but we lose to Chicago, which mojo is stronger? Sadly, we know now.

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At 26 October, 2007 02:08, Blogger Longshoe said...

My quick thoughts (mainly stuff I was yelling at the TV while everybody else looked at me like I was crazy):

- Burch was at fault on the goal, he let Rolfe run by him to get into that position.
- Brian Carroll sucked donkey balls all night long. He should've been pulled sooner.
- We needed to go to two true forwards at halftime, not when Emilio came in. Moreno (or Emilio if he had more in him) should've come on for Carroll at halftime, the other should've come on later in the half.
- Chicago didn't really do much but defend well. They didn't create much at all.
- That said, DC had a lot of possession, but didn't create many chances either. That's troubling.
- I don't think DC does well when they're coming from behind. With the score level or if DC is ahead, United is beast. Chasing a game is not DCU's thing though.

A one goal deficit isn't horrible going into the home second leg, but I'm still worried.

At 26 October, 2007 08:39, Blogger JWVariant said...

Wow, I know that alcohol is a depressant, and I don't know exactly what part of the country you are in, D, but holy cow that's one depressing tome ya got there....

I hope the sun comes out today for you, wherever you may be.

At 26 October, 2007 08:40, Blogger DJC said...

Here's what this game proved:
-United needs an effective third forward. Kepene may develop, but he's not there yet. In the offseason we need to go out and get a third forward who can spell Moreno, hold the ball up top and be a legitimate scoring threat.
-United needs Moreno more than we can ever know, and that is very scary. The team simply plays differently with him in the game, and his ability to hold the ball is an asset that cannot be overstated.
-We have got to be one of the slowest teams in the league. All of out top skill players--Gomez, Moreno, Emillio, Fred--lack pace and it shows as we try to develop the attack. Add "speed" to the list of needs for that third forward.
-Our defense is inexperienced and slow. McTavish and Burch often look at sea, and Vanney cannot keep up with a pacey forward. The former may well develop into good defenders (Burch certainly can given his crossing ability), but I think it's getting very hard to make a case for retaining Vanney next year.
- It's time to bid adieu to Brian Carroll and his relatively high salary, allow Simms to develop into his role, and use Carroll's roster spot for some help.
-This has not been a great year for Gomez, but we need him. he showed some promise in the second half, let's hope he can carry it through to next Thursday.

So all of that said, I think we need to look back at some earlier statements from this blog regarding this year as being a "rebuilding season." As crazy as it seems, we won the Supporter's Shield after all, perhaps it's true. When you've won four MLS Cups, you're setting a high standard for your club.

At 26 October, 2007 08:54, Blogger CVS said...

I did feel like Bobby was going through a Hope Solo moment when that ball bounced the wrong way off Vanney's head. It also did not help that Burch let his mark pick up the ball unopposed.

At 26 October, 2007 09:22, Anonymous Jeremy said...

The brazilian connection can not be overrated. When Fred and Emilio are both in the game they seem to communicate on a different level than everyone else on the field.

Last night especially, it seemed in the first half that Fred was miscommunicating with everyone. People would play a ball back to him and he would run the other way. He was unable to find other players to pass to and was hesitant approaching the box.

It got better in the second half. Not great but better.

I liked that the cold seemed to sap all of Blanco's spirit. Almost makes me wish for cold weather next week. Of course, it was stealing some of Fred and Emilio's spirit as well. (Gomez looked to be used to it.)

At 26 October, 2007 12:59, Blogger Zathras said...

I thought Fred was very disappointing. United had no width on either side of the field, and when it there was a player out there, the crossing was dreadful. When a team is defending as well centrally as Chicago was, width is required to pull them apart and break them down. The only two times that this happened, Moreno lost the ball out for a goal kick and Olsen was stymied by a lunging tackle. More than two such opportunities are going to be needed.

At 26 October, 2007 16:15, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let’s see now. That’s four times DCU has played Chicago in the playoffs, right? And they have yet to score on them. Blanco and those guys are in their domes now. I pick Fire to move on after a 1-1 tie at RFK, though your heart is going to be seriously hurting after watching DCU launch desperation shot after desperation shot in the final 10 mins. or so, which will probably go like this: Wide left, wide left, over the goal, wide right, wide left, over the goal. Save. Save. AHHH! There goes Blanco on the counter!!! Oh wait!! He’s carded for flopping (FINALLY!!! you scream) as Troy Perkins is the only guy within 20 meters of him and he goes down like he’s been shot. Still, just as DCU gets set for a strike going the other way, the whistle blows and its another long winter for the Red and Black, who at least can cradle their Supporter’s Shield for consolation while everyone else calls Dynamo the repeat champions. If only, if only, if only … all winter long.

But to get down to Earth here a bit. I really don't think DCU is in that bad of shape, all things being equal. But if they don't score early, there is going to be no space at all to maneuver on the Chicago side of the field. I expect DCU to absolutely pepper the goal with shots, but as they get more and more desperate, Blanco's ability to unnerve becomes more and more in play. I said it up there and I'll say it again, I think Chicago's record of domination over DCU in the playoffs is starting to take on a life of its own and if DCU hasn't scored the equalizer by halftime, they are going to play tighter and tighter and tighter. This has all the making of a serious upset now.

As for Blanco not getting carded for some of his antics, it really doesn't bug me overly much. Personally, I think it's a little weird to see professionals like DCU's defenders get so unnerved by it all. It's like in the old days with Gaylord Perry's did he spit on the ball or didn't he? The answer was most of the time no, because he was so in the batters' heads that their nervousness did over half of his work for him. That's what I mean when I say he's in their domes. How else does that guy, who is easily one of the slower players I've seen in MLS this year, get the acres and acres of space he gets? He is the complete focus of Chicago's attack. Everything runs through him. Stop him and you stop that team and DCU just can't even touch the guy.

Supporter's Shield or not, what you saw last night was that DCU is vulnerable with the right match-ups, and Chicago has all that in spades. Those guys are not in bad shape just down a goal, but they are in terrible shape mentally, which showed as they had defensive breakdown after defensive breakdown. The fact that Chicago is not up by more than one goal is more due to the fact they suck on the final attack. Just imagine what this score would be right now if they had an honest-to-goodness finisher out there.

My prediction stands, Chicago moves ahead on aggregate, 2-1, and then gets absolutely demolished in the Eastern final.


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