13 March 2008

Debriefing for Match 13.A.01: At Harbour View F.C.

Harbour View F.C. 1 : 1 D.C. United

Six Word Novel Recap

The season's started. Tell the players.

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Washington Post, Steve Goff: "Devon McTavish scored for United just before halftime, but Lovell Palmer volleyed the equalizer past goalkeeper Zach Wells to leave the total-goals series even heading into the final leg Tuesday night at RFK Stadium."
MLSNet, Charles Boehm: "D.C. started out brightly, switching play from side to side and probing the Harbour View back line. But the MLS side was hit by two injury blows in quick succession starting in the 14th minute. First Moreno pulled up clutching his hamstring after chasing after a ball deep in the Harbour View penalty area, immediately signaling the bench for a substitution. Then goalkeeper Zach Wells took a boot to the head as he raced off his line and smothered a through ball at the feet of Richard Edwards, who seemed to leave his foot in a dangerous position as he moved past the prone netminder. After receiving treatment, the dazed Wells was able to continue, but Moreno gave way to another new South American, Argentinos Juniors loanee Franco Niell."
UnitedMania, Chris Webb: "Despite it being United's first match of the season, they had decent control of the flow of play throughout the first half only being halted by a series of rough tackles that resulted in yellow cards to two Harbour View players...The second half was pretty similar to the start of the game in that United was the better team for the first 20 minutes but then Harbour View started to pile on the pressure."
The Fullback Files: "United looked rough, but you pretty much could have predicted that with the crappy pitch on offer and the lack of match sharpness for United coming in. Regardless, I thought we'd show a little better than that."
BlackDogRed, BDR: "No broad generalizations on the fate of the season from a first disorganized 90 minutes of determined refusal to build through the middle, but if Soehn's great brainstorm with all his new talent is to play every ball over the top like some relegation threatened Wearside team, jeebus fuck, he could have done that with last year's talent. You spend the designated player spot on a ball-distributing ten and craft a strategy of running the offense over him?"
DCUMD, Shatz: "All in all, not an unfair result when you consider its our first competitive match with this team and they've been playing together for months. And we were missing our two emotional leaders."
Fighting Talker, Aaron Stollar: "What I didn’t like...No wide play. United left Emilio fairly isolated with a lack of decent crosses. Yes, the goal was a result (indrectly of a cross) but the two wingers Fred and McTavish needed to be more involved and they weren’t" [Note: Word. See below]
QuarterVolley, I-66: "Work in progress. That’s the way to describe this team right now. "
Six Yards North, QJA: "The most important thing I noticed was the slow pace to the game. It seems United is struggling to shake off its preseason mentality. Players were walking at every opportunity and there were far too many lackadaisical balls over the top."
Soccer Insider, Steve Goff: "The first two results were satisfactory for the visiting MLS sides, who will head home for the second legs of the Champions' Cup quarterfinals next week"

The Good
  1. Frank O'Neal: Came into the game ahead of schedule, but I thought did very well. He seems to be two things: Fast and Small. And he was good, it was his hustle that brought us to the goal.
  2. Clyde Simms: Thought he had a wonderful game at midfield, a disruptive force
  3. Center Defense: Seemed decent for most of the game, giving up a goal on a set piece but I don't fault any of the new acquisitions for that. Stollar and I are in agreement that Burch and Namoff were most at fault.

The Bad

  1. Ef the SC: Reading around the blogs, it seems to have been concluded that Lifton and Fullback posted the definitive critique of Fox Soccer Channel's myriad mispronunciations. I agree with everything they said, and urge you to read their litanies. In response, I propose to now pronounce Caligiuri as Caligula.
  2. Tom Soehn and the Safety First Kids: Again, I don't think out tactics last night will be the same as our tactics the rest of the year, but last night was not particularly fun to watch. Long balls over the top is ugly football, but I understand the reason for it. More concerning for me was a lack of recognition that Harbour View's late game threat wasn't something that would solved by adding Dan as another holding midfielder. The direct move would have been to take off Fred or McTavish for a better defending wing player (Kirk? Tino if his defense really has improved?) And that's assuming you agree with the idea of just trying to hold the lead, which many of you do not (although here, I differ, feeling that the motivation is sound, it was just the execution that was suspect).
  3. Marcello Gallardo: A marginal call here. It wasn't so much that he was bad, but that we seemed to be playing a system that reduced his role to Marco Etcheverry 2001 (let me hit a thirty yard pass and see if you can run it down.) I expect more. I expect our tactics to show us more. His first free kick was pretty nondescript. His second was quite nice. I am excited, but I don't think we really saw much last night.
  4. Devon McTavish: Yes, he got the goal. And he did well after blocking a team mate's shot to get that goal. But for most of the night, he was invisible, even on defense, and that's simply not acceptable. Fred was compartively better, so Fred's off the hook on this one.
  5. Emilio: If he's going to get the captain's armband, then even when teams are taking him out of the game he's got to assert himself.
  6. Jaime Moreno: Not his fault that he pulled up lame, but not encouraging either.
  7. Marc Burch: Got caught twice deep in our end with the ball, and that's simply not acceptable. I want to see a step forward in his game, and it wasn't there last night.

Man of the Match


Karma Bank

Not applicable, but it was I'd fine us 1 karma for a generally listless performance.

Final Thoughts

I do enjoy writing these again. I really do. And while I'm disappointed, I'm not furious. As I wrote last night, I can't imagine this is how we'll play the entire year. I have to believe we made a tactical decision last night to play as we did, and that the second leg at RFK will see an entirely different type of game.

Like Stollar, I am concerned about the lack of wing play. I hinted at this last night, but even when we had control at the top of the box, it seemed too often the through balls on the flank were going to Namoff. I love Namoff, but I'd prefer to see crosses or penetration in that area from Fred or Kirk or someone whose job is to get forward. Gallardo played the ball long decently, but I did not see a recognition that our lack of width was an issue last year, or that we've taken any tactical steps to address it.

So... neither bad nor good but thinking makes it so. Preseason form was in evidence, but we can not use that as an excuse. If we allow ourselves to think that way, we are only creating excuses for a loss, and not a reason for a win. I want a win.

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At 13 March, 2008 11:18, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to finally see this team play -- and to read an actual D-briefing!

Rustiness and mediocre result aside, I liked what I saw from some of the new players.

Gallardo takes on more of the field than Gomez did. For better or worse, he's a flashier player -- and will be fun to watch.

Niell is speedy and skillful -- gotta like that.

I fear we may develop a bit of a reputation for diving this year, there were a few too many appeals to the ref for my taste.

Central defense looks solid. I think we'll be tough in the back, which is a good thing with much of the rest of MLS concentrating on their attack.

I wouldn't use pre-season form as an excuse for current performance, but it is good to see the greater potential for when these guys really come together.

We're currently weaker than the sum of our parts. I think that will change in short order.

At 13 March, 2008 12:39, Blogger JCM said...

I absolutely agree with you on the Gallardo/Etcheverry comparsion. I am sure he can do more than we saw last night and Olsen on whis right will be one of the things that will eventually open up the middle for him. There has to be more quick passing with his on the ball skills. I was encouraged. I'd have put him in the Good column with essentially the same comments. It was a borderline performance from a #10 in his first game.

At 13 March, 2008 13:52, Blogger Chris said...

Not a totally unexpected performance, although the lack of width after a whole offseason to remedy that problem was a bit distressing.

Will be exciting to see what Kirk or Tino can bring to the table out there.

I agree with you that Simms' performance was a paricularly strong one. He was a rock in the middle.

At 13 March, 2008 14:06, Blogger QJA said...

I disagree about the flank play. I don't think it will work vs. a physical side like HVFC. They have aerial superiority; that, and whose service is good enough to locate Emilio from the wing? Fred's crosses are decent at best, McTavish's are woeful and I can't even remember Quaranta's. I'd rather see intelligent play through the center. Takes a bit of team cohesion though; too much to ask this early on?

At 13 March, 2008 14:58, Blogger The Manly Ferry said...

Here's one more review for all y'all's consideration. The only big difference of opinion concerned Gallardo: that man was everywhere and I thought most of his passing pretty sound. If he did anything wrong, in my mind, it was going too deep to get the ball too often. But I liked what I saw out of Gallardo...though, mind you, I'm a neutral.

At 13 March, 2008 15:12, Blogger Keving said...

Welcome back D.

Wouldn’t be too concerned about the long ball this early on. Sounds like a very British tactic and one from a coach who doesn’t trust his players to play on the deck and through the middle.

Could just be that being early in the season the long ball seemed a decent option.

Sure you will “do” them at the RFK.

Vamos and Hail Hail

At 13 March, 2008 17:54, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is what I saw last night.

-Harbor View completely outplaying us. Then again, they are used to the horrid pitch, they have been playing together for years, and they all speak the same language.

-Zach Wells rockin’ the goal and dousing Jose Carvallo’s hope of a starting spot (probably, anyway).

-Gallardo having the occasional spark of flair but mostly just subtly creating, just like I like to see.

-los Gonzalos are completely amazing, rock-solid defenders, who are occasionally caught napping and therefore GOLAZO (or almost GOLAZO).

-Ailing Jaime didn’t get to do much, but his replacement Niell stormed up the sides a few times and almost earned the other team a red card. I like Niell. The guy is cool.

-Stratford, the resident Arsenal fan (which I love to see in a player, lol), replaced Niell and drifted more midfield to leave Emilio up front. Why they tried to sit on their 1-goal lead against the strong Jamaican side I don’t know. We didn’t get to see much of Stratford, but the fact that he got on the field alone impressed me.

-Simms, Burch (sometimes–he did slip a bit), and Fred were solid and good the whole time. Burch had the energy, Fred had the smoothness, Simms is just…you know, Simms, so it was all good over there.

-McTavish wasn’t all that great…until he scored (an ugly goal, but a goal).


-Namoff wasn’t too wonderful, but he wasn’t handed all that many chances either. Emilio wasn’t great, but then again he isn’t quite the quick start guy.

All in all, I think the game was more a credit to Harbor View than it was bad for DCU. And considering the HVFC-loving ref, the horrid pitch, the language problems, the still-getting-used-to-each-other factor, and RFK comin', I think it will only go up from here.

At 13 March, 2008 19:57, Blogger kevin said...

so who else hated the uniforms? or am i the only one...

At 14 March, 2008 13:34, Blogger elopingcamel said...

You are not the only one, Kevin. I miss the stripes.

I love the D-briefings, by the way (no to get all sentimental on you or anything--just thought I'd finally get around to commenting on it).


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