07 April 2008

First Impressions - D.C. United 4 : 1 Toronto FC

Damn. Due to personal commitments, I didn't go to RFK for this game, but did catch the archive match on MLSLive.TV. Then I wrote a First Impressions post, thought I posted it, and only now when I started the debrief do I see nothing came up. Still, there is a rhythm to such things, and I must write impressions, tardy as they are, and come up with them before doing the debrief. So here goes...

United did what they had to do. The benefits of beating Toronto by multiple goals are slim: we should beat them, and it shouldn't be close. Yes, United now has a positive goal differential two games into the season, and that's something. And yes, United's marquee players, Gallardo and Emilio, have tallies, so we don't need to start a running "When will they score?" feature. And yes, I am fully aware of the fact that this is only Toronto, so I shouldn't overread. Yet still, caveat away and what remains is something that United all too infrequently does not accomplish: Take on an inferior team and not play to their level, but instead put the game out of reach early and not look back. Combined with the sentiment that this had to be a statement game, United accomplished everything it could, and wrung out every last drop of goodness out of this game.

So let me address the general situation. Pachuca is upcoming, and even after this result I will be surprised if it were not United's last game in the CONCACAF Champion's Cup. Pleasantly surprised, but still surprised. Still, provided United puts forth a credible effort, I don't think we go through the season feeling as though we start with a failure. United is, for the moment, a team whose limits are uncertain, but is not a team in trouble.

As for the particulars, I also want to say this. I'm not saying I'm buying directly into rebirth Tino Quaranta for the season, but I am willing to say that he's done everything right in a Year-To-Date sort of way, and that's all I can ask for. And to be fair to Tino, that's more than I thought I'd be saying. So full credit to Tino.

Update: I wrote this at 7AM, and it didn't post again. BARRGH!

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At 07 April, 2008 12:50, Blogger Justin W said...

This game left some good warm and fuzzies, but was not enough to prompt chants of "We're number one" or anything like that....

I think the victory will have an interestingly positive impact on the players' mentalities, such that they'll at least start the Pachuca game in a positive frame of mind. Whether or not that can be sustained is up to them...

Even if the Pachuca game results in DC's exit from that competition, it is WAAAY too early to start moaning and groaning.....c'mon, the season's just begun! Enjoy!

At 07 April, 2008 13:37, Blogger Sean said...

I know it's just Toronto, but, really, it was a 4-1 victory. What more do we demand? A 6-1 victory?

It was a drubbing, it was great for the home crowd for the league opener, and hopefully will give the guys some good momentum for the game on Wednesday.

As for officiating watch: I think we're seeing that MLS refs aren't going to put up with the same garbage they did last year. We saw Jeff Lorentowitz tossed seven minutes in to the NE game and the red carding of a Toronto player for retaliation after a whistle was top-notch. Refs are going to go for the plastic, and I think that is good for the game rather than the mentality that let a certain other NE player get away with a Zidane-style headbutt in the MLS finals.

At 07 April, 2008 13:39, Blogger Sean said...

Correction: The red card was for the tackle, not the retaliation. I just checked the discipline summary. I thought it would be for the elbow and push after the play, given that the ref was not running to the spot with a red card after the foul took place, but it seems it was for the tackle. Still, it shows a much lower tolerance for violent BS out of MLS players.

At 07 April, 2008 13:48, Anonymous Anonymous said...

in my mind, it was more of a preseason practice session than an actual season game. We subbed out the starters, and experimented with a different formation. We were able to provide hurt players with a chance to recover match fitness, or new players a chance to better fit in.

So I am pretty happy with the way things went, and honestly at this time last year, we would have been quite happy with this win.


At 07 April, 2008 13:51, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to watch how the team is beginning to gel, but I couldn't help thinking all along that Toronto is a far, far cry from Pachuca...

I was much happier with the new lineup. Like him or not, Tino brings much more intelligence and danger to the front line than Niell. Plays very well with Gallardo and Fred.

Also great to see Sohn use the game to experiment with 3 in the back. The early lead could have led to a defensive posture, but Tommy pushed it forward to see some different formations.

A few observations...

Niell needs to learn to shoot. Heck, I don't care if he misses -- just fire one already! Good to see him stay on his feet though.

Jaime was slow but steady. The stability up front was immediately visible when he came in. I was afraid he wouldn't work well with Gallardo, but they looked good together.

Emilio still looks slow and brick-footed. Not sure what happened over the off-season, but I worry about him...

I still think these guys are only at about 50% of their potential -- looking forward to a long, steadily improving, and eventually stellar season.

- rke

At 07 April, 2008 14:38, Anonymous Matt Y said...

Great result...and there is plenty to nitpick from DC's play.

We gave up way, way too many chances even after they were down to 10 men.

Emilio doesn't look overly sharp.

Niell at this point is the Kpene of 2008 unless he proves otherwise

The attack looks good...the defense is still shaky.

At 07 April, 2008 20:08, Anonymous Skippy said...

Well, I'd agree with most of what has been said, 4-1 ain't shabby, it was "only" Toronto, DC gave up too many chances. I would like to add new confidence in Wells. I felt like before I hadn't really seen him make a "great" save and I thought he made some pretty good ones. It was also nice to Jaime score during the run of play. Finally, not to be negative or judgemental, but did I read Goff correctly and DC is paying Gallardo 3-4x or more what Gomez is making (no, seriously, my math sucks, is that right?)? Them's some awful big boots to fill and, with all due respect to Gallardo,I've yet to see quite that kind of skill. Although I thought that free kick was impressive (and promising of more to come?). I don't mean to be down on a man who has yet to make a serious error, but yeah.. . 's a lot of money.
Anyway, I was trying to make this short. Was a fun game to watch and I was glad to see DC finally have a win going into a big game. Yes, probability is low, but just to give us all false hope, every home game this year has yielded a colossal margin in DC's favor. . .
P.S. Was anyone else surprisingly pleased with Simms?

At 07 April, 2008 22:21, Anonymous Nick said...


I would like for you to weigh in on this topic if you get a chance:

DCU is a four-time MLS champ, playing in a decent sports town with a large population. DCU has been successful on and off the feel, and has a huge presence, including media, within the community. DCU puts out a great product every year. DCU's front office, considered the best year-in and year-out works its ass off and achieves season ticket sales in the 9.000 range.

Seattle FC has no team, no players, no wins, no SSS, and a front office that just began working. Seattle FC will not even play a game until a year from now. Seattle has sold more than 13,000 season tickets.

Philly has no team, etc, two years out, etc. Philly has done no advertising. Philly has sold more than 5,000 season tickets.

Could you weigh in on this and try to offer some explanation as to why we struggle to get 10K season tix and Philly gets half of that 2 years out without spending a dollar on advertising?

At 08 April, 2008 01:57, Blogger MLS en espaƱol said...

Si hablas espanol, visita mi blog y opina sobre la MLS, los jugadores latinos que participan en ella y ademas, revisa videos y articulos sobre grandes jugadores de todos los tiempos:


At 08 April, 2008 08:47, Anonymous Jeremy said...

I agree with most comments. I still feel that the Harmse tackle deserved a yellow and not a straight red.

Even though there is a lot of deserved vitriol for NE, I am not going to say that Larenwicz(sp?) deserved a red for his tackle either. I am afraid that I am gaining a reputation as a NE supporter. That certainly is not the case. Trust me, if I saw Matt Reis walking down the street, I'd hurl some derogatory comments his way.

Tino has pretty much erased my memory of the '05 debacle. Whenever he came in that season, the team's energy and communication seemed to plummet. I am seeing him have a positive impact this year.

Niell had a clear look at goal with that one great run and decided not to take a shot, but instead wait for help and let the defense organize. I thought he had actually played at the professional level before? Overpaid!!!

At 08 April, 2008 09:08, OpenID Aaron S. said...

Harmes' tackle looks worse every time I see it. It was definitely a red card.

At 08 April, 2008 10:55, Anonymous Skippy said...


I'm not D and he probably has better insight, but it is my understanding that in addition to Qwest field, Paul Allen loaned SSFC the Seahawks front office people, so there has been a dedicated staff who has experience working together with another successful sports franchise, even if it is pointyball.
I'm also to understand that Seattle had one of the more successful franchises in the bad old days of the previous league (ASL?), so there was already a fan base itching for a team.
And finally, it is a new team and to some extent they are going to fill seats just by virtue of that. I mean, for how long do you think TFC is going to keep playing to a full house if they're at the bottom of the league every year (not to belittle the dedication of Toronto fans)? Perhaps a better comparison would be season tickets DC's opening year, but even then, the MLS is already going now and has attracted a fan base.
Having said that, I remember looking at RFK attendance halfway through last year and I think DC's attendance was always 2nd or third, which isn't lousy, but considering DCU's success, I know what you mean. If there is some sort of failure in DCU's advertising campaign or something like that, I have no insight to offer.

Full Disclosure: Most of my SSFC information comes by way of my folks in Seattle who are sick of me raving about DCU and have been drooling over a MLS team of their own. They're a couple of those 13,000 season tickets already sold.


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