28 April 2008

Debriefing for Match 13.05: Real Salt Lake

D.C. United 4 : 1 Real Salt Lake

Six Word Novel Recap

Revenge is best served at home.

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Washington Times, John Haydon: "Moreno, the league's all-time leader in penalty kick goals, converted two more and assisted on another goal, leading United to a 4-1 win over Real Salt Lake at RFK Stadium last night before 23,269."
The Washington Post, Steve Goff: "Though well rested, well prepared and highly motivated, United was plodding and predictable in the early going and lost Brazilian wing Fred to a bruised quadriceps after 22 minutes. His replacement, Burch, influenced the game right away."
UnitedMania, Mike Martin: "Poor Nicky could only shake his head ruefully and wax philosophic after the match. 'He makes a living off PKs. I think he’s made 203 career goals off PK’s. No, especially at home I’d say one hundred percent. I just want to guess the right way and at least get a touch. But what are you going to do.'"
RSL Malcontent, "I know a lot of people will probably complain about the referee. Frankly, the first PK I thought was just an incidental hand ball by Kovalenko and should have just been played, no call. He didn't make a move to redirect the ball in any way, he was sliding and it hit him. As for the second PK, while I thought it was a bit soft, it was still a good call. Any time you slide, especially in the box, from behind a player, and block him from shooting, without really playing the ball, you will get called. It was one of those calls that even the ref probably knew was soft, but it was so clearly in the box and was certainly not something for an indirect kick, he had no choice but to award the PK."
Behind the Badge, The Management: "Winning is way better than losing."
BLCKDGRD, BDR: "Meaning, all applause for avoiding the horrific, but little credit for beating a team United should have knocked out in the first twenty minutes. All applause for avoiding the crisis another embarrassing home loss would have created, but nothing I saw assures me the crisis has been averted rather than just delayed. Hope, but."
DCUMD, Shatz: "Seriously though, it's strange how starkly different this match was from the match played by the same two teams just two weeks ago. DC United dominated, especially in the second half. Let's just hope this result won't be followed up by a series of letdowns like the last time we had a 4-1 victory at home."
The Offside - D.C. United, Jon: "Gallardo was putting his stamp on the game in the midfield. And his goal HAS to win goal of the week, once they put up the link, I’ll post it here, and make you vote for it under the threat of violence. When he keeps the ball, he’s a force. Right now, there are no forwards who are reading his passes correctly."
Fighting Talker, Aaron Stoller: "Now that is what fans expected of this team. I was struck by just how good the attack looked in general and by how much they seemed to do it in spite of Emilio. While he did draw a penalty, he looked like he was in a fog for most of the match. He and Gallardo still do not appear on the same page but, and this is the important thing, rather than just continuing to try the same Gallardo-to-Emilio plan over and over again - they evolved."

The Good

  1. Marcello Gallardo: First off, his goal is the leading candidate for goal of the year. I remember back to the DCU v. Chelsea game when Sean Wright-Phillips dropped and easier one-time side volley into the net. United fans basically shrugged it off as MLS defending, not that MLS defended worse, just they never had to deal with a player who was dangerous when one-timing a cross. MLS is a changing. As for the rest of Gallardo's game, I think Aaron said it best in the part I quoted above. He and Emilio still aren't linking up like they should, but we are starting to see DC adjust its game to Marcello. Hopefully we can see more of these adjustments and the fruits of that knowledge in games to come.
  2. Key Coaching Decision Making: After the first RSL game this blog took Tommy to task for playing a system that just didn't work with reserve players, the 3-4-3. It seemed that Tommy could make changes to the way United played but when he found something that they won with he would run with it until problems arose. It remains to be seen if he continues with the 3-5-2, or if that was just a tactical decision for this game, but either way it worked for this game. Starting Sratford was interesting, but got a young player some valuable experience and helped clog up the midfield to hinder Kyle Beckerman. Taking off Stratford when we lost some of our possession game when Fred had to come out was a good move that many coaches would have waited on too long. Add to this that Kirk got some time at the end of the game and we can't really fault Tommy at all for his in game decisions.
  3. Wing Play: A United with width this year is going to be three times as dangerous as one without. Without Gomez stretching the field vertically United is going to need players stretching the field horizontally so that teams don't key in on Gallardo and Moreno. Though Burch isn't as good as Fred, he played left-mid in a more traditional role and it showed how much of the field Fred leaves unused. Quaranta on the other side really brought a lot more to attack down the right, I don't know if I would play him there all of the time, but against less attacking minded wingers he might be a good choice until Benny comes back.
  4. Jaime Moreno: Jaime played better than he has all season. I think this is in part him and Marcelo understanding each other better. But I also think that this was partly due to Soehn telling the team to shoot more. Jaime doesn't really shoot all that much, but when the rest of his team is the defenders have to respect his shot as well. It is when nobody is shooting that we see Jaime get dispossessed a whole lot more than he should.

The Bad

  1. Emilio: Still isn't in form. Still don't know why.
  2. Wells: Still doesn't have the communication down with his defense. This is probably just the learning curve for a young keeper in his first starting role. However, he needs to show improvement so that United can be confident going into some of the big games it will play later in the season.
  3. Final Third?: I don't know if this should be here or not but it seems like DC really didn't have any good chances until after the PKs were given and Salt Lake was pushing forward. If United is going to be a dominate team this year they are going to have to be able to break down bunkering team, and RSL wasn't even bunkering, just playing high pressure defense.

Officiating Watch

Baldomero Toledo called a very interesting match. Without the PK calls, it seemed to be a very well called match which I didn't have too many complaints about. However he did make two penalty kick calls for United and I really don't know what to make of them. I think both were legitimate calls while both being "soft" at the same time. Frankly if I had called the first I wouldn't have called the second. I would have called the shirt pull right outside of the box on Emilio, in fact that is what I thought he called at first, wondering why it was a PK. Let's just hope this was payback for the 2006 game at RSL and not karma United will have to deal with later in the season.

Likert Scale Grade: 4 - Above Average (Note - I have no idea what this is)

Man of the Match

Moreno. I think I was ready to go with Santino right after the game, but thinking back Moreno really did more. I think he takes it home, but I am still open to discussion.

Adjusted Results

As I said earlier I would have given one of the two penalties. I think the adjusted result should be +1 goal for D.C, for a final score of DC 3 : 1 RSL. For the season, D.C. United's adjusted record is 2-2-1 (7pts); 10GF, 11GA, -1GD.

Final Thoughts

Much better, now just do it again. Basically, I am wary of United's up and down mentality. A 4-1 win is nice, but not if you lose two games right after it. DC needs to show more consistency. I don't know how they do that other than win against Colorado, but I do know that they need to be better over the long term. I hope this is a corner that United is turning, but I fear that this is just a blimp while they let down next game. At the same time I am happy with the performance I don't think that we can use this game to overturn what happened in the first couple of games without more evidence. I guess I am optimistic, but cautiously so.

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At 28 April, 2008 10:12, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moreno? Man of the Match? Not according to RSL: "Two penalty kicks. Congratulations. What else did he do?" said Jason Kreis post-game.

Quality quote. What game was he watching?

At 28 April, 2008 11:08, Blogger I-66 said...

I'm 95% sure it was Damian Duff who scored on the volley against United.

At 28 April, 2008 11:09, Anonymous Bootsy said...

It wasn't SWP that scored that one-time volley against us in the DC-Chelsea match. It was Damien Duff.

Re: talking about Quaranta and "I don't know if I would play him there all of the time, but against less attacking minded wingers he might be a good choice until Benny comes back." I worry that even if Benny comes back, all the surgeries and rehab will mean he'll have lost another step out there. We have to consider the very real possibility that we won't have Benny at wing this year.

Otherwise, I like the cautiousness of the analysis here. In particular, I want to echo your comments about Wells and his interaction with his defense.

At 28 April, 2008 11:52, Blogger The Bird said...

Kinney or D - Toronto fans are KILLING us in GOTW voting. You guys need to rally the troops and get Gallardo his well-earned bonafides!

At 28 April, 2008 12:19, Blogger Bob said...

I'm inclined to be a LOT harsher against Wells. How is it that there were so many mix ups in the back that could have easily been turned into goals against stronger or more fortuitously positioned forwards? These seemed to be easy "I got it"/"You get it" situations. He seems lost out there. And let's not forget that he needs to take his goal post out to dinner.

At 28 April, 2008 12:23, Blogger Jeffrey said...

I still see something very troubling in our attack: in Moreno and Emilio, we have two strikers who are making no effort whatsoever to get behind the defense. It's easier to defend when everything happens in front of you. We need to play someone up top who will try to get behind the defense and take advantage of Gallardo's vision and passing.

I think this is my explanation for the "final third" problem you pointed out.

At 28 April, 2008 14:33, Anonymous The AMT said...

@ jeffrey: When we have everybody back (except Benny), we can try that 3-4-3 again. If I recall, that led to Tino and Fred (and even Luci) getting behind the defense a little bit more frequently.

On Mr. Olsen, though, if he can't quite run the wings once he does get back, he could conceivably play next to Simms in a 3-5-2, couldn't he?

You guys have no idea how happy it makes me to have legitimate options as to formation this season.

At 28 April, 2008 16:02, Blogger jrnail23 said...

Guys, I'm really intrigued by Burch's emergence as a legit left midfielder... if he can serve up crosses on the left, we can move Fred to the right (where I think he may be more inclined to stay wide), and give Tino more time in the hole, in relief of Moreno.

At 29 April, 2008 12:13, Blogger James said...

Totally agree about the PK calls. Soft, but legit. It's a tough call for the ref on the first on especially. Dema's hand is up and shouldn't be. The ball strikes it. A no call would have been outrage. RSL = unlucky.


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