26 April 2008

First Impressions - DC United 4 : 1 Real Salt Lake

Well that was better than the last time these two teams played. There were good things that United brought to this game that has been lacking in the past two. United actually shot the ball. Amazing as that sounds you could tell by the 10th minute that Tommy told the team to take more shots. The wing play was some of the best I have have seen this year. Quaranta did very well on the wing and Burch playing the more traditional winger really spread the field for the rest of the offense. I am really liking Santino this year, he has been playing much better than I have ever seen him. His goal was a thing of beauty, and was a welcome respite from penalty kicks (the pks were a welcome respite from being shut out.) Gallardo's goal was just jaw dropping.

I was happy with United's performance but problems still exist. I don't want to be that guy who is unhappy with a 4 -1 win, but the first two were penalty kicks. Those scores changed the game and opened up the field for the goals later on in the game. It seems like United can score when teams are open and pressing but when everybody is back they have a hard time breaking down a defense. I am also worried that the two teams United have beaten so far were the two worst teams last year. Don't get me wrong, DC looked much better. I like the progress, but I don't want to say the ugly is over. I can only hope that it is. We will see what happens against a good Colorado team next week.

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At 26 April, 2008 23:07, Anonymous Grunthos said...

What was better, mostly, was the defense, which returned to the level of performance seen v. Toronto and v. Pachuca II. Peralta regained some of his composure, Namoff and Martinez were excellent, and Simms did his usual good job breaking up the attack.

The goals taken from play were very nice, but overall the offense still looked out of synch for most of the match. As you noted, we did well once the game was opened up for counterattacks, but had little idea how to break them open when the score was deadlocked.

The Good: The defense, Gallardo's shooting, Tino's second half wing play, Jaime showing he still has a little burst speed left in the tank.

The Bad: DC's complete inability to make headway against RSL's full-field-press in the opening 20 minutes, Emilio still failing to get his game on track (although this was better than the last two outings), and Dan Stratford, who appeared overwhelmed by his first start.

Overall, a good time to get some good luck. There's still a lot of work to do.

At 26 April, 2008 23:14, Blogger Shatz... said...

Yeah they've beaten the two worst teams from last year, but I think most of us would agree that TFC and RSL are both playing a lot better so far than they played last year.

At 26 April, 2008 23:45, Blogger Sean said...

I think in this game you really saw Soehn think tactically about the game. The 3-5-2 really worked and it was a good call to put Burch in at left mid when Fred had to go out injured. He also had the guts to pull Stratford in the 40th rather than sit back, wait, and hold his subs.

As for officiating watch, good play to Toledo to give two penalties when penalties were due. I think in the old MLS, the second one wouldn't get called because it would be overkill or "wouldn't help the game," or some other nonsense.

On the other hand, I think Talley's foul on Fred deserved a red. It was more than a tactical foul, it was a blatant leg into his thigh to keep him off the ball and from the break and should have been punished harshly. On the other hand, if you look at the replay, you can see Taledo slip on the pitch right before the foul. I imagine that put him out of concentration and position to see what really happened. He had the 4th Official there to help him, but it's still a hard call to make after that.

By the way, DC United runs a couple 'meet the referee crew' sessions each year and the RSL game was one of them. I couldn't make it (stupid exams), but I went to one last year and it was interesting and informative.

At 27 April, 2008 10:58, Anonymous DCUinCT said...

Keep in mind that that "good Colorado team" has the same number of points that we do. Not that I think that they are bad (or that Gomez won't be very motivated to do well against the team that dropped him for a compatriate), but that they are beatable, just like DC and every other team in this "all parity, all the time" league.

At 27 April, 2008 11:44, Anonymous Jeremy said...

While the first two goals were penalty kicks, the fouls were caused because of good offensive pressure.
Jaime looked great most of the game, Tino was excellent as a winger.
The back three looked excellent, shutting down most everything that came into the defensive third. I thought that Peralta looked confident again. Luci looked better than he has. His efforts to move the ball were what drew the second PK.
Stratford looked horrible from the opening whistle until they finally took him out. I think that was the key to openeing the game up, because I saw several plays that he killed through a bad touch or otherwise misreading the play.
This was a good step in the right direction, a confidence builder that should get us moving in the right direction.

At 27 April, 2008 13:07, Blogger elopingcamel said...

shatz's comments I think are very valid. I don't see either Toronto or RSL taking the MLS Cup this year, but they are proving themselves far improved from last year (although we did beat TFC before they added Guevara and he seems to be the real reason behind they climb in form).

At 27 April, 2008 13:10, Blogger AC said...

Great points....

It was fun to be there last night for the game. Stop by our site for some photos from the game.

OffWing Photo

At 27 April, 2008 15:20, Anonymous The AMT said...

I was really impressed with Burch's service once he took over the left wing. Added almost a completely new element to the attack (and created Gallardo's golazo). I love that Tommy's getting creative with the line-up - we have a lot of players who deserve field time and getting them all in is going to be a challenge.

At 28 April, 2008 05:22, Anonymous Skippy said...

Yeah, it felt good to see them win. But I am a late poster and most of the good things have been mentioned, except that not only was Gallardo's goal amazing, he had some other shots on goal that were pretty impressive. That, more than his distribution and footwork, make me think he is worth that DP spot. The footwork and distribution are there (even if there if there aren't always players to receive the ball), but I think his shooting this past game demonstrated that he is really a cut above most of his MLS peers.
However, I do have to say, I can't fully agree with grunthos about the defending. Yes, it was there in the end, but I feel like a lot more of it came down to one-on-one defending than it should have. I had to watch the game on TV and it looked like Martinez and Wells were still shouting at each other in one of the off-the-ball shots Comcast gave us, and they weren't shouting in a helpful, communicating, organizing-the-defense way. More in a pissed off at one another way. I also saw, I believe it was Martinez, but maybe Namoff (can't remember clearly now) head a ball out, conceding a corner, when there was no pressure. Wells played much better, but he still looked slightly out of position often. I guess the point I am trying to make with these anecdotes is that I worry the defense still isn't organized and relies more on individual talent than teamwork. And I'd rather have the individual talent to fall back on than it be the first and only line of defense.
Also, I would still like to see more from Emilio (goals, mostly) and did anyone else notice that there are still a fair few nice balls going into the back post with no one making that run?

At 28 April, 2008 09:19, Anonymous Grunthos said...

Oh, I absolutely agree that the communication between Wells and the defenders continues to be awful. Just unacceptable. By "the defense," I meant the defensive field players... Wells is rapidly using up his honeymoon credit. I was especially dismayed by the repeat performance of Zach coming out to get a ball without properly calling off the defender (in this case Namoff).

I didn't notice the lack of coordination between the defenders so much, but I could have missed it. It's hardly surprising, given the complete personnel revamp coupled with our back-and-forth-as-needed choice of 3 or 4 at the back.


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