First Impressions - D.C. United 2 : 3 Columbus Crew
So I come back from a week on the road to find out that Kevin Payne has had a small stroke, but is apparently recovered, to see that United's unbeaten streak is over, and to see the stadium situation has gone utterly charlie foxtrot. I mean, what the hell people? Can't you do this crap when I'm around to devote time to it? Bah...
We finish at 55 points, a Supporter's Shield to our credit (though potentially only won on a tiebreaker depending on results later tonight), and a team looking at the playoffs with another kind of streak: 0 for October. Add to that injuries to our two starting forwards, a somewhat fatigued Ben Olsen, a definitely fatigued Namoff...and yet...
Yet I don't think this is a point to panic. United was more creative than I recall, especially facing a team that wanted to bunker. The finishing wasn't there, but this team wasn't a team that looked desperate for a clue. They had ideas. Their defensive form wasn't excellent, but it wasn't as bad as the three goals suggest in the score line. They are out-of-sync, yes, but not out-of-gas.
It is somewhat fashionable for United fans recently to expect that worst. And certainly there is enough for you to look for along those lines. But part of me never buys the momentum theory (you can see what I wrote last year along those lines.) If there is to be momentum, let it come in the away leg of the playoffs. Winning against Columbus wasn't going to give this team confidence, not the way the '04 team took something form going up 2-nil on Metro in the Meadowlands. That's where momentum comes in. And you can see it one game, as you could in 2004. The moment where potential energy converts to kinetic. Where gravity is scorned, and static friction becomes fiction. I can feel that potential in this team right now. It isn't inevitable, but it is a possibility, and it makes the coming playoff games intriguing.
Rereading these previous paragraphs, it reads more like a Final Thoughts of a Debrief than a First Impression, so let me add this: Gomez had a good game, and Olsen proved once again that he is the heart of this team right now. McTavish and Namoff were both exposed again. As much as Boswell's positioning can be troublesome, he is easily the best defender in the air this team has, and that's a skill we need. Kpene had a decent game, let's not forget he is in his first year. I much prefer seeing him up top than Dyachenko. I still feel that we know Dyachenko's highest potential, but I think Kpene can get so much better. Mediate was a non-factor, which is not a good thing.
Part of me feels that Tom Soehn wasn't gunning for this game, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I mean, yes, keep the starters healthy, but we really didn't manage that, did we? Why put Olsen in, as good as he is, when you know he may get hurt and you can use him next week. Why not start Dyachenko at midfield, Jeff Carroll, Justin Moose, and Nicholas Addlery? It seemed like an awkward compromise between resting people and still trying to get a result. I'd have preferred that we just concede the game outright to the reserves. But we didn't. Instead we were neither one thing nor the other. And I would expect a team like that to be out of sorts for 40 minutes or so. Which we certainly were.