21 May 2008

First Impressions - Toronto F.C. 1 : 0 D.C. United

A school of fish.

A parliament of owls.

A murder of crows.

An embarrassment of United?

Objectively, I know this game was an improvement over the last three, but the entire flavor of this game was ruined by two things. First, the fact that L.A. made me sick during my plane flight home. But second was the number of times when United seemed to create their own defeat. It started with McTavish being wrong footed with a bounce on the turf, a situation which he managed to compound in the greatest of tragicomic proportions (who was it who said "tragedy is when I stub my tow, comedy is when you fall down the stairs and die?") Then there was Fred managing not to score on two great chances. And Gallardo's game-long habit of sending weak square balls to players in red.

And so, you can consign this game to bad luck, but United has created its own luck this season. Objectively, this was a better game, we moved the ball, we fought for some balls and won some of those, we created chances, we passed with some degree of success, we were even downright creative. Subjectively, it still feels like being mugged. Oh, and objectively... objectively we got no points. Objectively, as one commenter wrote (which I can't find, but I'll post a link when I do) we have the same number of losses now that we had all of last season. My apologies if I'm not happy with the small progress which I know, somehow, should be enough.

Preliminary debits and credits - Merit awards to Martinez and Perralta, a I'm torn between Gallardo and McTavish for the goat. Oh, and P.S. to MLS Referees... "Persistent Infringement"

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24 Comments:

At 21 May, 2008 21:47, Anonymous Grunthos said...

I don't blame you. Yes, it was better. But it wasn't good enough. Simple as that.

Right now, this team is the definition of "less than the sum of its parts." Gallardo makes nice plays... that fizzle. Martinez has good ideas... that his technique can't match. Fred has good moves... that go nowhere in the end. Etc.

Oh, and I've officially had enough of Zach Wells. Not that he was horrible tonight; but there just isn't any upside. Playing him again on Saturday is tantamount to waving a white flag on the season, IMHO.

 
At 21 May, 2008 22:01, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe you watched a different game sir, United looked so bad. players were not keeping their position and Toronto play awful

 
At 21 May, 2008 22:02, Anonymous bdr said...

Mel Brooks said it.

And Fred, all alone on the LEFT, yards of space, especially to his LEFT, can't go LEFT, can't cross with his LEFT.

So, bring in Burch and his two-second trigger. Oy.

 
At 21 May, 2008 22:25, Anonymous DCUinCT said...

They were not awefull, but did they ever seem dangerous except for the 2 consecutive misses from Fred? The turf is slick, it's raining, and there were what 3 maybe 4 shots on goal? Toronto basically just sat back and watched them try tp pass around. Maybe they didn't look that dangerous, but they didn't have to, they had the lead. DC had to find a way to score and they couldn't do it. What makes it seem that with Soehn they can win on the road? For there to be any success for the season they'll need to score when they are behind.
Bring in the new coach now for the home game against a beatable team. Trade Emilio now. Send the message that even if a quarter of the season is sacrificed, the fans won't be. The front office needs to make it clear that they will do all they can to win. It's time.

 
At 21 May, 2008 22:31, Anonymous shaun said...

I hate to loose faith so early on, but it just seems like the same problems have existed for a few years running; no speed or wing play and the players they brought in don't fill either of those holes.

Oh and then there's Emilio, he's like watching a giant thumb with thumb legs and feet stumble around on the field. I don't think he could trap and control a beach ball at this point, even if he wasn't a giant thumb.

The only thing to say about Wells is DOA. Next. Speaking of which I'm counting the days until I see Mr. Goff write something like "Seohn the Exit, DC United coach is released,” because after watching him once again sub-in a D-Midfielder when United is losing, I just don't think there is anyway to turn this titanic around any time soon without a serious change at the helm. It's starting to look and fell like the Dark Ages of the Hudson era again. At least he had a talking dog named Punky to give him advice.

MOTM TIno, he was all over the place, well and so were some of his crosses, but at least he was playing with heart.

 
At 21 May, 2008 22:56, Anonymous Kenobi said...

I agree with everything D posted, especially the persistent infringement thing (I'm looking at you, Danny Thugio).

It's obvious that Emilio is being asked to play a different role this year. Last year, Gomez, Fred and Olsen would run at opposing defenses, pulling defenders to them and creating space for Emilio to run onto balls facing the goal, which he usually finished.

This year, with Gallardo running things, Emilio is coming back to look for the ball, and so is constantly receiving the ball with his back to the goal, even 30 and 40 yards out. Unfortunately, in that position, he's got the exact same amount of skill as a concrete wall... however hard you kick it to him, that's how hard it's going to come bouncing back. Emilio is a poacher, not a target forward. He needs to be playing off a target man, not as one, but there doesn't seem to be anyone on the DC roster who can play that role. Moreno certainly doesn't help, since he's a similar style of player to Gallardo, Doe sems to play similar to Emilio, and Neill is about 2 feet too short for all that.

Yes, there are the fitness and sharpness issues, but ultimately, I think it's the change in tactics that have reduced Emilio to a shell of his 2007 self. So, not to beat a dead horse, but if it's a tactical problem that's not getting corrected, guess who's to blame?

 
At 21 May, 2008 23:11, Blogger kevin said...

By the way, I wrote the thing about the amount of losses already being equal to last year's total. It's on the Chivas "first thoughts" post I think.


...I feel special...

 
At 21 May, 2008 23:24, Blogger Chris said...

No mention of Moreno... I thought he was a waste of space tonight. Possession is usually his major upside and tonight he gave the ball away over and over when we desperately needed to keep it in the middle third.

 
At 22 May, 2008 06:38, Anonymous Skippy said...

During another season, I might have been willing to chalk this one up to the lousy pitch and Gallardo having an off night. But its not another season.
You know what? Why fight it? Gallardo is going to play deep, give him defensive mid. Fred wants to push into the box and was the only one with decent chances, what the hell, put him in the center. Put Burch on the wing (he was particularly ineffective last night, I thought) and give Simms the night off.
Yeah, I know its stupid, but nothing else is working.
Gah, this is getting really frustrated.

 
At 22 May, 2008 08:18, Blogger bond said...

Everyone has good points but getting rid of Emilio doesn't help ,Kenobe is right, he is a poacher(garbage goal guy) and darn good at it , the problem is he is playing too deep,,,,,,,,,,,,last year we had more speed and better control of midfield (boy do we miss Gomez and Carroll's speed), this year I not only see too many squares but no way near enough progression passes..........what has happened to third and fourth man offense? We may just be too slow for the creativity it takes to play winning soccer , I'm not even going to get into the lack of skill in the back and midfield..........by the way , Moreno is fine, he is playing too much midfield also , if we don't begin to control the game more and let Moreno and Emilio play their game it is going to get real ugly................sorry , just my opinion...........

 
At 22 May, 2008 09:32, Anonymous DCUinCT said...

Shawn,
Like this guy.
http://img.epinions.com/images/opti/78/07/pr-Toys-Art_Asylum_2-Pack_Spy_Kids_Thumb_Thumb_Figure_Set.jpg

I knew watching all those Spy Kids movies with my kids would come in handy some day.

Emilio the Thumb-Thumb.

 
At 22 May, 2008 11:20, Blogger Bob said...

Can C. Ronaldo be the goat for this match too?

 
At 22 May, 2008 11:37, Blogger Jeffrey said...

My take on this game is pretty simple: we made one horrible mistake, didn't finish, and didn't get much from our strikers. Our defense and midfield played pretty well (aside from Fred's finishing).

I'd like to point out how rarely United get flagged for offsides. This, to me, illustrates a serious problem: neither Moreno nor Emilio are trying to get behind the defense. It's easy to defend when the entire game occurs in front of you.

 
At 22 May, 2008 12:28, Blogger rke said...

Jeffery: I completely agree. This game would have been considered a decent effort/non-event if the rest of the lousy season didn't precede it.

Decent effort on a dreadful, slick pitch. Lacked finishing (still our biggest weakness). And two major, simultaneous gaffs (I'd fault both McTavish and Wells equally for the goal).

I also commented to friends at half time last night how we never get offsides calls. As you say, a clear sign that we're not pushing up top.

 
At 22 May, 2008 12:33, Anonymous Grunthos said...

I'm not sure Moreno or Emilio *can* get behind defenses, given the current midfield play. No off-the-ball movement and no wide threat means no space through the middle and no defensive errors. Add in Moreno's increasingly glacial pace, and you have a great recipe for "Shots on goal: 0."

But yes, they could at least try every now and then.

We'll need to make some significant moves before the year is out. Too many guys on this team overlap each other in terms of ideal role. I could see dealing Fred, if we got real width or a quality goalie in return. Emilio is a much more useful guy than he has shown so far this year, but if we can get some talent (and I mean different talent, dammit, not a duplication of things we already possess) in return and open up cap space? Go for it. Are we going to use Kirk? If not, why keep paying his 100k salary? Deal him for someone we will use. Can we terminate Niell's loan... please?

 
At 22 May, 2008 12:42, Anonymous Skippy said...

I'm a little more even-headed now, or at least my anger is directed at work.
I'm prepared to upgrade the team's performance to mediocre. McTavish's error notwithstanding, I don't think it was embarrassing, though that might have a lot to do with TFC's decision to really not push for a second goal.
For all my criticism of Fred's tendency to drive inside (I stole that criticism from someone else actually), I thought he used the wing well. In fact, I think he was the best-looking player out there yesterday (and I mean that, I'd probably go gay for. . . no, wait, that's not coming out right). Had his finishing been better, I would actually have labeled his play as "good." He was aggressive, he didn't hold on to the ball to long and I thought he used open space well.
Simms on the other hand has been looking weaker. And I mean that literally. I still like his propensity to have a go even if its from distance and he doesn't have the perfect angle. The rest of the team would benefit from a similar tendency. But whereas I remember him in earlier matches fighting for the ball in midfield and hanging on to it, I felt that the past couple matches he has been pushed off the ball a lot.
So, its an improvement. If, and its a big if, they can build on it and McTavish and Gallardo return to form they might start winning a game or two. Not top of the league until they fix tactical problem, but more of a middle of the league team.

 
At 22 May, 2008 15:24, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How come nobody is calling out the coach. Maybe it is Soehn's fault they are performing so miserably.

 
At 22 May, 2008 16:54, Blogger rke said...

Somewhere, in some post, I defended Soehn, saying that he needed three consecutive games with a relatively healthy set of starters. Consistency is what we need to gel and become more than our sum of parts.

One down, two to go. I think Toronto was a bit of improvement. Saturday should be better -- better field, home advantage, player continuity.

Then comes New England. By then (assuming everyone remains healthy) we need to have our groove back.

I'd give Tommy at least that much slack to turn it around.

 
At 22 May, 2008 17:58, Blogger bond said...

Note to whoever said proper ball movement would eliminate the need for the foot race to begin with , thus not needing speed,,,,,,,,,,,,,I hate to tell you this but there are foot races all game long on all parts of the field,,,,,,,,how do you think third and fourth man offense is created , how do you think passing lanes are opened , how about balls placed into space,,,,,,,,,,,,there simply is no substitute for speed at this level,,,,,,,,,,,,sorry , but that is the way it is,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

 
At 22 May, 2008 21:50, Anonymous Anonymous said...

True Bond, but it aint all footspeed... if foot speed were all that mattered we'd just sign the Olympic track team and be done with it. DCU's problem is that no one is really fast-- teams need at least a few burners to keep defenses honest... plus some speed out of the back can be a real plus...
-K

 
At 23 May, 2008 08:06, Blogger bond said...

Dear anonymous , I totally agree , I guess I over emphasized the 'need for speed' thing , it is vital and you are accurate in you thoughts...............

 
At 23 May, 2008 12:00, Anonymous Skippy said...

rke - I agree about giving Soehn and the team a couple games to pull it back together and getting some consistency playing together. My only question is on Emilio. Whomever compared his trapping abilities to a concrete wall as pretty much correct (except, concrete will take some of energy out of the ball - he's closer to a fiberglass backboard). Much of Emilio's play has looked better, except his first touch, which is more important since he has to play as a target-striker rather than a poacher. In Toronto, just about everyone had a look at goal except him. But then, I haven't really seen anyone fit to replace him. Would you keep him in even if he is the wrong type of player for the team's offense this year?

 
At 23 May, 2008 13:56, Blogger rke said...

Skippy: I agree about Emilio. (I was suggesting Tino up top with McTavish on the wing, prior to the last match -- and I'd still like to see it).

I'm happy to see TS with a consistent roster to choose from, not necessarily to play the highest salaries.

I loved Emilio last year, but count me among those who feel he just doesn't blend well with Gallardo and this year's team. I'd hate to see him go -- especially to another MLS team where he'd come back and haunt us! But he's yet to prove himself in this year's lineup.

 
At 23 May, 2008 15:03, Blogger bond said...

Hey guys , there is nothing wrong with Emilio a little offensive mid field creativity wouldn't cure , remember we had that last year and he faired very well,,,,,,,,,,,,you just can't discount the speed and offensive mid-field creativity we lost in the off season , we lost some pretty crafty guys..............

 

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