04 May 2008

First Impressions - Colorado Rapids 2 : 0 D. C. United

That D.C. United lost in Colorado is not much of a surprise, as United has done little else but that for the better part of a decade. That we looked so bad doing it is perhaps something of a surprise. Colorado deserved the win, and deserved the margin. The natural focus of any post-game write-up will be to cast this match as "Gallardo vs. Gomez," and I understand that. And Christian did his part to make it look like D.C. United made a mistake.

The more interesting focus to me is "Clavijo vs. Soehn" and on that mark, I think it is clear that Tom Soehn again trusted too much in previous good results. While we saw a slightly different line-up (Niell for Moreno, and I suppose Burch for Fred) to start this match, the tactical decision making seemed very similar to the last match against RSL. Which is the worry we've expressed about Tom Soehn's United. If something works, try it again until is stops working.

It is, if you think about it, the very antithesis of "Building on a win." There was good and bad against RSL, but rather than take the good and try and add more to it, we accepted the good we had and hoped it would be enough again.

We are not a fast team. That's simply a fact, but not all successful teams need to have great speed. We still haven't figured out what we are, and how to make it work. And while Dave Johnson can talk about this team still "coming together" the fact is that we've had 20% of the season go by now. Maybe it snaps into place in the half-way mark, and I'm more than willing to give it that long. But if it doesn't...

If it doesn't, then I have a feeling that the game I just saw is one I may have to get used to seeing.

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At 04 May, 2008 17:23, Blogger kevin said...

Call me pessimistic, but I doubt we'll make the playoffs this year. It's really not our fault, but teams like Toronto, Columbus, Kansas City, LA, and Colorado are actually COMPETITION now. The league's quality has improved ridiculously over the off-season. With this team last year, we could have contended for the title. However, the MLS, specifically the East, is too stacked for us to stand out much.

Who knows, maybe (hopefully) it will all start to come together soon. We admittedly haven't been playing well, so maybe we can resume our dominance once the team gets to know each other like last year's team did.

At 04 May, 2008 19:25, Anonymous DCUinCT said...

Again, good analysis on the coaching.
I still don't understand the love of Dyachenko. When Gomez stole the ball from him in the second half and he didn't even know he was coming, I thought that would be enough to have him subbed.
Did DC have a single shot on goal?
Clearly this team isn't able to translate whatever it is that the coaching staff is stating is the approach, unless it is. Play the ball slowly, give it away frequently, get caught out of position, and once you play the ball, stay exactly in the same position.
What a mess.

At 04 May, 2008 19:47, Anonymous Mickey said...

Yet another loss should fall squarely on the shoulders of the players. They're the ones running (or standing) on the field and they're the first and the last to be held accountable. Not sure why, but this DCU squad doesn't appear motivated by much right now.

That being said - I agree that the coaches share some of the accountability - but not so much in terms of technical prowess or tactical know-how. Soehn & Co. need to seriously consider their ability (or lack thereof) to light a fire on the team...

At 04 May, 2008 21:00, Anonymous Jeremy said...

I was writing this game off, so the result isn't shocking. Only two shots on goal IS shocking.

I am not panicking. However, I will be putting a lot into how we perform next week against arch-rival Chicago, who I think is within spitting distance of Columbus as being the best team in the league right now.

Another poor performance against the Fire at home and I will start calling for someone's head. I'm not sure whose, but someone has to take the fall.

BTW: Since Olsen is pretty much done (at least for the season), I don't have to worry about jinxing him anymore. Does anyone know if they sell Olsen jerseys at the stadium? I haven't seen any online, and haven't had a chance to check out Dick's yet.

At 05 May, 2008 08:53, Anonymous BigKris said...

OK, I expected this team to lay down in Denver. They never play well out there, plus they were missing Fred, plus the bosses (Payne and Kaspar) weren't there, having decided to fly somewhere else and go watch some other game instead.

What's weird is that despite expecting the team to be flat in this game, the result really shook me. This is the first time I've felt like this isn't just a team that's tired or hasn't gelled yet or whatever but is really a team that is struggling. We're a bad team right now.

At 05 May, 2008 09:38, Blogger JCM said...

Funny, I blamed the Dyachenko give away on the other United players who weren't shouting "Man On!" Don't they do that anymore?

And Jeremy, I got my Olsen #14 by buying a blank jersey and bringing it to a room in the stadium off the main concourse where they will customize the jersey however you want while you wait. I'm pretty sure they still do that.

At 05 May, 2008 09:44, Anonymous Tolik said...

The visual impression: the team is both tired and struggling. Again, quite a bit of miscommunication between the goalkeeper and the back line. Gosh, its not that many commands that goalkeeper shouts to his defenders, can't they learn them in English? Or whatever? Its not like its an unique situation - all big clubs in Europe have tons of foreigners, they manage somehow. It looks more like the inexperience of the goalkeeper now.

DC always proud itself on ability to keep the ball. I don't see it much this year. Without possession you have to run more and tire sooner.

Talent-wise, I don't see this team being any worse than anybody else. (or better) The results are way bellow their real (ok, perceived by me) strength.

At 05 May, 2008 09:55, Blogger Bibliotheker said...

I don't get the three man backline fetish. As said elsewhere this is not a fast team. Especially on the defense. I liked the 4-4-2. It is simple to play with the players we have and my guess is the players might feel more at ease. I think the coaching staff's mistake is that they aren't making the game easy to play. We are struggling and we are tired. Time to simplify, not get cute.

At 05 May, 2008 10:11, Blogger adelino said...

I think it's interesting that last year at this time, DCU were in similar dire straits and this blog (correctly) said that we should all get used to the idea of a rebuilding year. Last year's team had many of the familiar symptoms of a rebuilding team (too old in certain spots, too young in others).

This year, this blog (i still think correctly) has been conspicuously mum on using the word rebuilding. What's different? Our record is similarly bad at this point in the season. We're still too old in spots and too young or thin in others. Yet something about this year's record seems more like a product of generalized suckyness. There's no one thing that's excusably bad. The coaching is off, the offseason trades don't look so great, last year's emerging youth has taken a step back, the goalkeeping is suspect, and last year's MVP hasn't made it out to the stadium yet.

At 05 May, 2008 12:00, Anonymous Jeremy said...

JCM: Thanks for the info. I will check this out at the next game that I attend.

Off the main concourse is a pretty big area though. Do you perhaps remember a rough section number so that I don't have to walk around the entire stadium looking for "a room"? Is the room marked?

What is the extra charge for the personalization? The only online place that I found charged $30 for an official player personalization.

At 05 May, 2008 15:08, Blogger JCM said...

Not to make this a personal conversation with Jeremy, but here are the answers to your questions. When I bought my jersey you could get a Moreno #99 at the kiosk for let's say $80 or a blank one for $50. When you get the blank one, they send you to a room where for $30 you can get a name and number put on it. If it is the same place, it is behind the goal to the left of Barra Brava. They will tell you the section number when you buy the jersey. Now all of this was before DC United took over the team store from the Nats. It could be totally different now.

As for the game, I must have watched a different one from the rest of you because I didn't see much wrong with Gallardo's play. I found a lot wrong with Burch, Niell, Emilio, and Quaranta.


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