First Impressions - DC United 0 : 0 Chicago Fire
I had expected United to rebound nicely with an long week off, but it didn't happen. They weren't as tired as they were against Kansas City. That was the most fatigued United had looked all season. No, they looked uninspired. There was little creativity. Tom Soehn had moved the team into a 3-5-2 in the second half, and they just seemed lost in the final third of the field. It reminded me of... well, itreminded me of the end of the 2006 season. Not a happy feeling.
What's strange is that I have no idea who's in good form right now. Christian Gomez had a fairly decent run in midfield, and Clyde Simms had fully rebounded from some subpar play in Guadalajara by aggressively marking Blanco. My entire "McTavish/Vanney, or Boswell/McTavish, but not Boswell/Vanney" theory took a huge hit tonight, as Devon seemed to have difficulty shutting down runners and Vanney couldn't clear a ball with his head. Burch had a better game defensively, but teams have learned not to let him have any space when he goes forward. There were at least two times when he tried to serve up a ball only to see his marker deflect it back at him.
If there was a bright spot, it was Troy Perkins, who was called on multiple times. In addition to some fantastic saves, I was most impressed by his decision making. He had some tough choices on whether to leave his line, or stay back, to play the ball with his feet or smother it... and he was correct 100% of the time. One of his best games of the season, if not career.
Overall though, this was not an inspiring game. United's magic number is three (pending the Chivas game on Sunday) which means the match against Columbus could mean everything in terms of the Supporter's Shield. Which means I'm probably going to watch their win against New England. That Champions Cup spot is still not assured. The interesting question is what to do with Vanney, Carroll, and Namoff, all of whom would be suspended for the first playoff match if they picked up a yellow in the final game of the season. While yellows reset for the playoffs, a suspension in the final game of the season applies to the first match of the playoffs. My choice would be, if possible, to give Namoff the week off. He needs the rest, but with Gros not feeling well you wonder what the options are.
And, I don't agree with resting most of the starters for the playoffs unless Chivas loses Sunday. We have a one game chance to ensure Champion's Cup play next year. I want that.