Debriefing for Match 13.04: Columbus Crew
D.C. United 1 : 2 Columbus Crew
Six Word Novel Recap
Never understood why Goldilocks preferred lukewarm.
Media, Traditional and OtherwiseThe Washington Times, John Haydon: "Even with the strongest lineup coach Tom Soehn could use, D.C. United fell short last night at RFK Stadium. United lost 2-1 to the Columbus Crew before a crowd of 13,329. It wasn't as one-sided as Saturday's loss at Real Salt Lake in which three key players rested, but United's offense still struggled to find the right chemistry."
The Washington Post, Steve Goff: "Alejandro Moreno's sweeping shot from close range pushed Columbus (3-1) ahead in the 32nd minute. And later in the first half, after Bryan Namoff's deflected shot drew United even, the Crew needed just one minute to retake the lead."
UnitedMania, Chris Webb: "Soehn was baffled with the miscommunication that seemingly plagued the United back line all night long. 'It should have been better than it was. They punished us when we didn't do a good job.'"
Soccer America, Ridge Mahoney: "Is it too soon for the fans of D.C. United to panic, given their team's depressing 2-1 loss to Columbus at RFK Stadium Thursday night? Of course it's too soon. But their misgivings are well-grounded. You can talk all you want about players getting to know each other and it's still April and they've had a heavy load of games and all that, but this team has been together for more than two months and doesn't show much leadership or competitive fire."
Hunt Park Insider, Matt Bernhardt: "The Columbus Crew's first victory in RFK Stadium came courtesy of an own goal from Richie Williams. So too did the team's latest conquest, as Sigi Schmid's men gutted out a 2-1 win Thursday night. The victory puts the Crew temporarily atop the MLS standings, with nine points from four games played. DC United, meanwhile, is in the Eastern Conference basement with the opposite record."
Behind the Badge, The Management: "[Emilio] There is no frustration here, we know the potential we have...[Gallardo] We need to get a couple of wins so we can gain confidence, not get desperate."
MLSNet, Chris Snear: "...it was Schelotto who controlled the midfield in the first half, orchestrating a far more fluid attack than his Argentine counterpart. Though United created ample chances, Gallardo was given very little space to play with very few options provided by his front runners. Most of United's attack was generated from the flanks with Fred on the left side and Bryan Namoff on the right."
MLSNet, Charles Boehm: "...the home side fluffed a string of scoring chances before Alejandro Moreno's grit and graft produced two goals that put United behind the 8-ball. Neither was pretty - the first, an awkward close-range finish to a fluid passing move and the second an own goal off Gonzalo Peralta just seconds after Bryan Namoff's equalizer - but both were just rewards for the Crew. The combined effect was devastating to D.C.'s fragile mindset."
BLCKDGRD, BDR: "it is time to start asking if the team is playing up, down, or equal to its players' - and coach's - ability, and I've got the uneasy feeling that what we're seeing might be the team's true level: the players just aren't very good, and the coach isn't capable of getting a greater result than the sum of his players."
The Far Post, Thaddeus Byron Aloysius Dopenhopper: "...time to call out some dudes...Emilio: The dude is a poacher. Poachers are streaky and frustrating. This season he’s being asked to hold the ball with his back to the goal, but MLS defenders have figured out if you lean on him he gets so distracted he can’t make the appropriate pass to a teammate."
DCUMD, Shatz: "The whole team seems way too tentative on offense. Instead of taking the quick cross or the one-time shot, United is more often holding the ball waiting for a play to develop, or sending it in to Emilio posting up with his back to the goal (which never works)."
The Offside - D.C. United, Jon: "One of the Gonzalos is good, the other one needs to wake up. The good one is Martinez, who had a strong match. Peralta once again got beat for goals. I say sit him in favor of McTavish."
- Photo Gallery from Information Leafblower
- DCist, Matt Borque: "Despite Soehn's offensive substitutions, United could barely sniff a goal."
- An American's View, Brian Garrison
- Center Holds It, Jeff Bull: "'The Crew held on for the win': that’s one of the most limited of soccer cliches. It falls well short of letting one appreciate just how energetically Columbus defended, how they compensated for an occasional lack of organization by closing down fast and clamping down hard."
- Who ate all the Cupcakes?, Longshoe
- Poplar Point Perspective, JCM
- Marcello Gallardo: Commenter Jeremy asks exactly the right skeptical question last night in the Impressions: "How can you praise Gallardo's 'vision' when this vision leads to a turnover and the end of any attacking chance. For me vision includes seeing the play developing, anticipating the reactions of your teammates and the defense and moving the play forward. I have not seen that from Gallardo." And Commenter Grunthos gets the answer exactly right: "Gallardo *is* seeing the developing play better than his teammates and trying to direct the flow of the offense. With depressing frequency, his teammates ignore his suggestions or fail to understand them... the turnovers are not occurring because Marcelo made a bad choice, they are occurring because the other guys aren't reading his moves well." This is perfect, and means I don't have to do any work answering the question. Ah, the joys of laziness.
- Key Coaching Decision Making: Tom Soehn's line-up and substitutions were all reasonable and fine. I enjoyed the double-substitution early in the second half. Now we need to start thinking about what exactly the "Best XI" for United is. More on that below.
- Gonzalo Martinez: Really, his tackling, his presence, and his marking are excellent. If the United defense could be a little more competent, he may be putting forward a Defender of the Year type season if this continues.
- The Columbus Second Half: You can complain about teams sitting on the lead, or you can credit Columbus for playing an excellent half with a one goal lead. They kept their shape the entire 45 minutes, they defended well, and they limited United to one or two dangerous balls the entire time. They deserve credit for that, and I will give it to them.
- Checking in with the others: Saw this guy last night, who, like me, starts composing his blog posts around half-time. And to the three or four other people who dropped by to say kind things, I appreciate it.
- Lieutenant Zack Wells: I think sometimes small moments illustrate big problems better than the goals do, so let me direct your attention to the second half, sometime around the 55th minute. Columbus attempts to play a through ball behind the United back line, but the pass is errant. Gonzalo Martinez starts to track the ball down facing his own goal. Robbie Roger, I think, starts to apply some high pressure. Now, Martinez has three options: 1 - He can try and turn the ball himself and play out of the back. 2 - He can send a back pass to Wells to play out of the back. 3 - He can guard the ball back to Wells who can pick it up. Wells comes out of his box, and it looks like Option 3 will be well executed.
But then Wells suddenly backpeddles four steps, just as Martinez can hear footsteps. What now? The back pass could be risky, playing it youself can lead to a costly turnover, and Wells suddenly isn't in position to pick the ball up. With some frantic movement, Wells suddenly reapproaches the ball and kicks it directly to his left for a Columbus attacking throw. And then Wells yells at Martinez, after not having taken charge earlier despite being able to see the entire field. Which is ridiculous. Wells is clearly the one who should be commanding the play as he can see what's happening. Accordingly, Mr. Wells, we demote you from O-4 to O-3, and you are now a Lieutenant in the Goalkeeping Navy.
- Defense on the Left: Both goals had unfortunate breakdowns on the left side, and I won't even go into the Wells decision to leave the net on the second goal. I mean, he was in a perfectly fine position to guard the post for any keeper not named Tony Meola. I'd like to see Devon McTavish taken out of the midfield role (replace him with Quaranta or Kirk, please) and used more as an augment to the defense as needed. Bleh.
- Cutting-in: Fred, I love your workrate, and your willingness to run. I'm just tired of seeing you get a ball at the corner of the box and 95% of the time cutting it back into the middle on the dribble.
- Emilio: See last night's post. With his back to goal, he's looking awful.
Both ARs were excellent, and I didn't disagree with a single flag that went into the air. Center official Jair Marrufo was his typical self, which is a shame. I would really like to see a replay of the first time Emilio was taken down in the box, as from my seats (Sec 236) it looked like a penalty, but given that I couldn't see if Emilio was also shirt grabbing, I can't really make a definitive call. That being said, Mr. Lars next to me saw a lot of two footed tackles not get called (both ways) and that's really not right kids.
Likert Scale Grade: 2 - Below Average
Man of the Match
N/A. Merit Awards to Gallardo and Martinez, your goat is, I think, Zack Wells (though Peralta and Emilio both are candidates)
A-ha! If I can find a replay of that Emilio take-down, I might adjust one goal up for United. Or if there's consensus in the comments. So it's either no change, or a 2-2 match. What say you?
UPDATE: Commenter Jason caught the replay, and argues for DC +1.5 for a DOGSO red to Frankie. I'm not sure I can go that far, but at least it confirms the initial thought of a clear penalty (combined with some good other chances). So the adjusted result is +1 goal for D.C, for a final score of DC 2 : 2 CLB. For the season, D.C. United's adjusted record is 1-2-1 (4pts); 7GF, 10GA, -3GD.
Final ThoughtsThere need to be changes. Personally, I'd start with the place where it seems we have the most options, and take out McTavish for Kirk or, more likely, Quaranta. I mean, yes, thank you for your goals in the CONCACAF Champions Cup, but it's just not working Devon. Sub him in on the defense, or start him for Peralta for a game.
I'm not sure that we're a bad team, as BDR might argue. I see a whole lot of talent on the field, and not just on paper. But our lack of a coherent attack as a team is concerning. We improvise nicely, but that only takes you so far. I love improvisation, but Whose Line Is It Anyway? never won a dramatic Emmy. Or a BAFTA, for those of you who remember Tony Slattery. Regardless, we're not on the same page. And we've had, as Mr. Mahoney notes, 8 games to get on the same page. That's not good.
That being said, I'm less annoyed by this result than the RSL result. The RSL game was a game where we deserved the thrashing we received. This game was a bit unfortunate, as we had some very nice moments in the opening thirty minutes. There was progress, sadly it was progress from one of the most ridiculous losses in our history. So I'm not about to scream and yell. Yet. A loss, with extra rest, at home against RSL... that would be pretty much intolerable, right? Right.