First Impressions - Pachuca C.F. 2 : 0 D.C. United
Did you ever have some elaborate plan to sneak out and hang out with your friends when you were in high school? And it had to be an elaborate plan, because technically you were grounded? So anyways, I was trying for various reasons to get to Georgetown with my SO, but I wasn't supposed to be driving anywhere, but I had a plan with multiple distractions and false leads that should have gotten my parents out of the house and let me make it into Georgetown. And it was working perfectly, until my parents decided to come back home via Georgetown and somehow saw me on the street. United's 2-nil defeat was kinda of like that.
United played well, but "well" wasn't perfect, or even exceptional, or even "damn good" and just "above average" wasn't going to cut it. When there's a difficult environment at altitude plus a skilled opponent plus a difference in form, you pretty much have to have a very good game. And United didn't have that tonight. They had a decent, well, alright game. And they're down two goals because of it, which makes the return leg at RFK not impossible, but a fair longshot.
The first goal is most likely the fault of Wells, thought Montes was running down the side of the box a little too freely, indicating that McTavish or Namoff or someone missed the mark there. The second goal was set up with the McTavish foul, and frankly that's a goal I would expect to see more times converted by Pachuca than not.
And on the other end, United would look threatening, but too often try to thread a ball through too many defenders, or not pull the trigger, or something, and the chance would slip away. Full credit for creating half of an opportunity, but no credit for not really even exploiting the opportunities we created with dangerous shots.
Form was clearly a factor, in two ways. Yes, the most obvious way was the fact the last fifteen minutes of the first half, and the last half an hour of the second, it was clear we were almost done. Those legs were heavy. But the other way our lack of form manifested was in the way the muscle memory hasn't quite gotten the mnemonics for this season. You can see the ideas, they're good ideas, but the pace of the passes is off, or the angle is shaved too thin, or the touch puts you into awkward footing, and suddenly the ball is going the other way.
If there is a complaint, a real point that I have a problem with, it was United's inability to be gracious with the gifts they were given. United was clearly at its best with some posession to the game, and they showed they could pass the ball around. Yet too often in the back a chance to build that same type of possession, to make Pachuca chase and give everyone a bit of a breather -- those opportunities were squandered with a poor pass out of the defensive third. That may be some fatigue, or some form, but I also got the feeling that the pressure of the situation had clouded the mental clarity that would have just advocated for a moment of calm.
There is no man of the match, but I think I would have looked seriously at Fred. As for the goat, I'm looking somewhat towards McTavish right now. I'll see how I feel after a good night's sleep. Debrief tomorrow.