03 April 2008

Debriefing for Match 13.A.03: At Pachuca C.F.

Pachuca C.F. 2 : 0 D.C. United

Aggregate after one leg -- DCU 0 : 2 Pachuca C.F.

Six Word Novel Recap

You thought it would be simple?

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

MLSNet, Charles Boehm: "D.C. United saw a valiant defensive effort undone by the products of two inspired substitutions from Pachuca coach Enrique Meza in the second half as 'Los Tuzos' earned a hard-won 2-0 victory Tuesday night at Estadio Hidalgo."
The Washington Post, Steven Goff: "Montes's strikes in the 63rd and 81st minutes sent United to its fourth road loss without a victory against Mexican clubs since 2005 and left the MLS team in need of a two-goal victory April 9 at RFK Stadium to force an overtime period and, if necessary, penalty kicks."
DC Sports Box, Abram Fox: "Driving in from the left flank, Montes looped a hard volley to the left corner of the net from outside the penalty area. The shot tricked D.C. United goalkeeper Zach Wells, who initially played it as if it were a crossing pass. Wells managed to get a hand on the ball, but not enough to keep it out of the net."
Soccer America, Ridge Mahoney: "The 8,000-foot altitude took its toll early. With Jaime Moreno on the bench, United could only hang with Pachuca for the first half an hour or so..."
US Soccer Players, J Hutcherson: "So DC United shows up at Estadoi Hildalgo, opens like it's an away game in East Rutherford, and wrongly thinks they're actually in it based on time of possession and the MLS definition of 'chances.' Fair enough, but not likely to hold. Instead, Pachuca once again reminds the League why they've been so unsuccessful playing in Mexico. At some point, an MLS club is going to look at how Mexican League teams play each other, realize that the bunker defense and 0-0 shutouts aren't entertaining, and open their game up.
UnitedMania, Mike Martin: "United did everything right except keep it to a one goal margin in Estadio Hidalgo Mexico."
BLCKDGRD, BDR: "The question isn't whether Gallardo is skilled, the question is whether Gallardo hasn't adopted to United's offense or whether Soehn hasn't changed United's offense to fit Gallardo. The question is whether United has the skill players to fit Gallardo's skills."
The Fullback Files: "Wells did his level best to top Perkins' brain-fart from last year against Chivas. Not quite the same level of egregiousness present in the mistake this time, but still a basic positioning error nonetheless." [Note: I'm in agreement with Fullback here, and not with DC Sports Box. The problem wasn't Wells thinking the ball was a cross, the problem was him positioning for a cross before the ball left the attacker's foot.]
Center Holds It, Jeff: "Without laboring the point, it’s worth noting that Pachuca could have had more: in fact, they squandered a couple positively gilded chances..."
Poplar Point Perspective, JCM: "A one goal loss would have been admirable and perhaps fortunate. A two goal loss was deserved."
DCUMD, Shatz: "How can consecutive 2-0 losses feel so completely different? Altogether, this isn't an entirely insurmountable lead. But it feels to me a lot like our 2-0 loss at Chicago in the playoffs last year. And I have a bad feeling that the home leg will be similar too, with a much-improved DC squad that will score a goal or two, but ultimately still come up short."
The Edgell Supporters: "Guys like Emilio and Gallardo were brought in to make immediate impacts and win these tournaments. Is the master plan incorrect? or do we just need more time? Luckily we have more time and even this tournament is not over yet. I hope we are not waiting in vain for the team to come together."

The Good

Since I didn't see the game with my own eyes, I'm gonna incorporate some comments from last night...

  1. Fred: It was clear that he wasn't cheating towards the middle, but had been ordered to pinch in and help out. Part of this was the way we were being abused down Devon McTavish's side of the flank, which forced Simms to cheat from the middle to the wing. A slight deformity of shape, but Fred made it work. One of the two bright spots in this game, the other being...
  2. Clyde Simms: Seriously, after a Kansas City game where I was less than impressed, he really fought hard, and even after his legs gave out he was still one of the more effective defenders. Classy.
  3. Adam Shlian's Birthday: Just my boy Adam. It was his birthday yesterday. Happy birthday man. Not soccer related, but at least there was something to feel good about yesterday.

The Bad

  1. Devon McTavish: Do I think Devon knows how to make attacking runs from the wing? Yes. Do I think Devon knows how to defend? Yes. Do I think that he knows how to move and position from one to another, providing a balance between the two from the midfield position? No. At this point, he simply doesn't seem to possess the awareness of how to make those choices, and both suffer inordinately.
  2. Emilio, Midfielder: Emilio was tracking back deep for the ball. Really deep. And it clearly wasn't a case of him drifting back to get the ball, but rather some form of gameplan that called to push him back. Maybe it was Gallardo playing deeply that Tom Soehn felt that Emilio was the best choice to provide a linking option, but those aren't Emilio's skill set (nor is it really Niell's). The team seemed awkward at best, and we gave the ball away too frequently as Fred and Emilio found themselves out of options as they moved into the final third.
  3. Scientists: Remember hearing, via the Post and on the FSC broadcast, how scientists had determined that the longer you put off your arrival at altitude, the less it would affect you? Really? I imagine then that if we had arrived another day earlier, that United would have probably collapsed the moment they got off the bus, their eyes bugging out of their head like Ah-nold's at the end of Total Recall.

Man of the Match


Karma Bank


(Semi) Final Thoughts

I see where others are writing the "2-0" is not impossible, just very very difficult storyline. And they're right. But I think we're also trying to convince ourselves of that fact. Pachuca, if they play anything close to as well as they played two nights ago, will win the aggregate score. Even if United plays twice as well. The only hope for United is that Pachuca suddenly finds that traveling doesn't agree with them, and United plays the game of its life.

I'm also now on the bandwagon that United needs to use the home opener against TFC as a statement game. There have now been three somewhat disappointing matches, and one good one. Fans need to believe in this team, but United needs a reason to believe in itself. Saturday's as good a day as any for that to happen.

I may have one more thing to say later regarding Pachuca and United, so we'll call these the semi-final thoughts for now.

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At 03 April, 2008 12:57, Blogger The Bird said...

I'd be perfectly happy watching United run circles around TFC on Saturday night!

However, if Moreno is on the field for 60 or even 25-30 minutes against Pachuca, we could see a different game dynamic emerge where Emilio can stay farther up top.

Maybe put Quaranta on the wing for McTavish? Could Stratford play wide? And I agree with calls for a look at Kirk.

At 03 April, 2008 16:08, Anonymous Jeremy said...

I don't really anticipate much of a rally against TFC. A win would be nice, but I don't expect an offensive explosion.

If Niell can't find a way to produce SOMETHING against TFC, I think that it might be time to ship him back to Argentina. His first touches are horrible, he's not faster than any defenders, he can't pass or cross, and he refuses to take a shot when he has one. He IS more entertaining than Kpene, but no more effective.

At 03 April, 2008 19:32, Blogger Landru said...

Agreed. As usual. I think a poor showing against FC Canuhduh would be most uncool, but mostly because I'm not sure I'd be able to talk you and that other guy down safely from the ledge.


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