16 June 2008

Debriefing for Match 13.13: New York Red Bulls

D.C. United 4 : 1 New York Red Bulls

Six Word Novel Recap

Rebound? Or Regression to the Mean?

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Washington Times, John Haydon: "The revival of Luciano Emilio continues. Emilio scored three goals Saturday night - his first MLS hat trick - as D.C. United beat the New York Red Bulls 4-1 at RFK Stadium."
The Washington Post, Steve Goff: "Despite the absence of playmaker Marcelo Gallardo and top defender Bryan Namoff because of red card suspensions, United (5-7-1) offered another comprehensive attacking performance and overtook New York (4-4-3) for fifth place in the Eastern Conference."
UnitedMania, Chris Webb: "I think it's safe to say that Luciano Emilio has put his slow start to the 2008 MLS season behind him. "
MLSNet, Charles Boehm: "With key veterans Juan Pablo Angel and Claudio Reyna sidelined by injury and young striker Jozy Altidore recently sold to Spanish side Villareal, the visitors entered the match shorthanded and United showed no mercy..."
The Fullback Files, Fullback: "...Martinez, on the other hand, seems ferociously competent, and is completely unafraid and fully determined to make vital tackles. He also reads the game well, cutting down angles for though balls, running down wide threats, and keeping his head up when in possession. I was a bit concerned that playing him on the right with Burch on the left--which Soehn's comments had pretty much confirmed for me as early as the aftermath of the reserve match against Chicago--might lead to Burch getting schooled for pace by Dane Richards, but that threat never really materialized, whether through good play by Burch, cover from McTavish, or outright incompetence by the Metrobulltards"
MetroFanatic: "Did you know that, back in 1996, the MetroStars won their first two matches at RFK? Since then, they've won just five other times at their hated rivals, getting trounced time and time again. It doesn't matter if Metro is fielding a full lineup, or a shortened one like tonight. It doesn't matter if they're playing well coming into the match, or not. With few exceptions, RFK is Metro graveyard, as it was tonight, as DC Scum took Metro apart, winning 4:1 and jumping them in the standings."
DCSportsBox, Abram Fox: "...in the second half, Soehn said. 'I came in [to the locker room at the half] disappointed that we didn’t play better.'"
Fighting Talker, Aaron Stollar: "If this were an actual rivalry, New York would’ve actually tried to get a result yesterday. Instead, they looked entirely like they’d chalked this one up as a loss on the bus south and just wanted to get through the bludgeoning as quickly as possible. Rivals don’t do that. The New York Red Bulls do."
Injury Time, AT: "i don't even know where to begin in talking about this 4-1 loss, but we can start right off with the critical injuries. reyna and angel were out with back problems, and as shep messing pointed out during the game, there seems to be a whole lot of back injuries going around this spring in new york and maybe it's time to look at the type of grass they're practicing and playing on."
BlackDogRed, BDR: "It's important when evaluating this game to remember Metro fans suck, but, hard as they try, they just can't suck as bad as their soccer team...a sign of progress, not a sign of deliverance."
The Offside: DCUnited, jon: "When Woly is your scoring threat, you’re screwed from the get go. DC came out a little flat, but within 10 minutes, they realized the team they were playing against would struggle in the USL."
The Offside: Red Bull New York, Dave Martinez: "What else can I tell you? My last post said it loud and clear - 'this is a statement game.' And what is the statement thats been made? 'We need help. Urgently.'"

The Good

  1. Luci Keeps the Football in Place: As much as I distrust cliches, perhaps there is some truth the entire "Goal scorers score in bunches, so the drought will eventually be quenched." To be honest, droughts make me nervous, but Emilio has now scored in several games, and a hat trick does seem to be a fitting punctuation mark. Right now, on MLSNet, the top goal scoring list reads "Donovan - Buddle - Emilio and Cooper" And that's pretty amazing, so let me admit that the conventional wisdom may well be the correct wisdom: the goals were going to come. That being said, I think there is a difference in play. This isn't simply a matter of Emilio getting breaks he wasn't getting before. Instead, there are two things that are different between Emilio now and Emilio circa two months ago. Now he's getting the ball facing the goal (all three of his goals were situations where his first touch in the attack was with him facing net, not with this back to goal). That's partially from more effort in his runs, but also to the team getting him the ball in a better position. The other change is the way he's dealing with contact. Emilio's first goal saw him fight through a marker to get on the end of Fred's cross, and two months ago I'm not sure he had the strength to do that. And that's really a difference for him, and an encouraging one.
  2. Handicapped to Even: Red Bull fans can rightly point out that they had no Jozy, and no Angel. But before this is used as a "DC just beat up on a team missing key players" let's not forget that DC was missing Gallardo, Namoff, and Olsen. So both teams had equal excuse to play the "we're missing key starters" card, but only one team did.
  3. Playmaking from the Middle: Both Quaranta and Fred, especially Fred, did excellent jobs pinching in from the wing to create attacking moves. Fred getting moved into the middle for the ineffective playmaking of Dyachenko was actually a strong move by Tom Soehn. Rod was proving a disappointment, but the position switch maximized the ability on the field. Quaranta's through ball to Fred was easily the start of the prettiest goal scored by United this year.
  4. Clyde Simms: Getting him a statistic to help demonstrate his ability is a lovely thing. He has done so much for this team, Moreno's decision to trust him to take that shot rewards some strong defensive play all season.
  5. LT. Zach Wells: A promotion to O-3 for Zach. Yes, the clean sheet wasn't kept, but his decision making in coming off his line was better this game than I can remember for some time. So we're bumping him up a rank.
  6. Tom Soehn: He put out a line-up compensating for suspensions, but also had the ability to play tactically to both minimize our shortcomings for what we were giving up. Quaranta and Fred would pinch into the middle as needed to support Dyachenko in the first half, and Emilio and Moreno were both going wide at the same moments. That was good play in this game, but not for every game. For the next match against San Jose, Fred and (McTavish/Burch/Kirk) must stay wide and let Gallardo and Simms fill the middle of the field.
  7. Jaime Moreno: Now, let me say this. While he's playing wonderfully the last few games, aren't you a bit concerned about him running out of gas in August? I am.

The Bad

  1. How United didn't score: One set piece goal, three goals on the counter, zero from a build from possession (unless you count earning the set piece.)
  2. Service Level Agreements: Here's the thing you can legitimately wonder about. That United scores four goals is fair, but if Juan Pable Angel is playing, or Jozy is still around, doesn't one of them get on the end of Dave van der Bergh's multiple dangerous serves into the box, and New York gets one or two more goals, right? Right. United still struggles wit the Terry Cooke's of the world, and this game was no exception. United was also fortunate that New York never really tried to play in long balls to Dane Richards over the top, another bug-a-boo of games past.
  3. Quavas Kirk: United was off-side once in this game, and it was Kirk who was offside despite coming in only at the 72nd minute. This is a problem for him, as he really needs to see the line better.

Officiating Watch

Kevin Stott and the ARs had a decent game. I think New York could have argued that Perralta was interfering with the play from an off-side position on the Simms goal (but even the replays there with regards to Perralta's position were inconclusive to me). The cards and fouls seemed about right, and despite the blowout the game never felt like it was going to get out of hand. So kidos for that.

Likert Scale Grade: 4 - Good.

Man of the Match

Luciano Emilio, obviously. Merit awards to Tino, Clyde, Fred, Jaime, Zach Wells, and Mark Burch. Small notes of censure to Quavas Kirk.

Final Thoughts

Let me admit that I missed the true importance of the Chicago game. The key was that United fought through another game that looked like it might get away from them, the same way they continued to fight against New England. The importance of playing for the shirt should never be understated, and I missed the boat on that.

That being said, let me say the thing that's probably going to be considered unfair -= Tom Soehn's job should not yet be considered safe for this season. We've had two good results, and have a chance to go to Superliga at .500, in which case his job is safe for the season. But, having shown that this team is capable of fighting through good teams (Chicago) and not so good (Toronto) it's clear that he does have the personnel he needs, the question of coaching is still not academic.

And right now, we're basking in the glow of a wonderful come-back win against Chicago, and a strong performance against New York. Still, that shouldn't discount from just what a big hole United dug for itself at the start of the season, and some of the abominable performances that were seen in that time frame. If, and I hope this doesn't happen, but if United is made to look silly by San Jose and Los Angeles, doesn't that have to factor into our opinion? Still, I've said that if a move were to be made, it should be made earlier rather than later, and after L.A. is as late as I would be willing to leave it. After that, the season should be his, and all the indications are that he has weathered the storm and started actually varying his tactics accordingly.

To be sure, part of that was the circumstances of this match. With suspensions to Gallardo and Namoff, Tom couldn't just play the same as he did against Chicago, he was forced by the roster to move things around. However, with them coming back, I expect him once again to adjust to the demands of that game. San Jose does have some threats for an expansion team, and we simply can't expect to use the United Form Letter game plan against them. The big thing will be the use of space. Frank Yallop, coming into RFK, is going to try as much as possible to make things as narrow as possible, and United must play wide in a way they didn't have to against New York. If that happens, and United continues to solidify results, then we can say that this team is in full recovery.

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At 16 June, 2008 10:51, Blogger Bob said...

At a glance updated.

At 16 June, 2008 11:23, Blogger Bob said...

I'm still negative on Wells, but how he/they made it through that stretch of, what was it, 4, 5, 6 straight corners was impressive.

At 16 June, 2008 12:01, Anonymous Skippy said...

I rewatched the game (onDemand is amazing) mostly because I did not have a good view of Fred's juggling and I wanted to see it. Instead I noticed that the team was more worrying on TV than it was live. I feel like the defensive weakness was understated in the post. Considering who the Red Bulls were missing, I don't feel like so much time should have been spent in the defending third and Wells shouldn't have had to make as many saves as he did. I know Namoff was gone, but even still I honestly worry about LA carving-up the defense (I hate to do it, I'll give credit where it is due: Landycakes, Buddle and Becks are looking dangerous this year).
Although none of the goals came from an offensive build-up, I think that is somewhat to be expected with Gallardo out. I was pleased with the offense in general. Yes it would be nice if there were a replacement for Gallardo or something close, but frankly there isn't right now and I think they worked around the lack of a decent central mid-fielder quite well.
Look on the bright-side, San Jose and then LA. LA and DC have scored the most goals this season, no? That should be an exciting match in front of all those Beckham fans.

At 16 June, 2008 15:05, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, am I correct in assuming that your adjusted score is 7-3?

...that's probably a record in all of FIFA football.

At 16 June, 2008 15:18, Blogger D said...

Crap! Forgot the adjusted score section... sigh.

At 16 June, 2008 15:53, Blogger Bibliotheker said...

Nice wrap up of the game. I agree that Red Bull didn't have the players and/or the sense to take advantage of DCU's weakspots. You're, Wells was better - getting closer and closer to magical point when the defense looks like it is comfortable in front of him, but closer is not what is needed so I stay unconvinced about him. Moreno playing himself out before the playoffs is a worry and hopefully he'll get more rest as the season goes along the team plays better and has less of a desperate need for him, that's the theory right? You rightly point out that there are some big defensive tests coming up and at least they are at home.

At 17 June, 2008 09:14, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with most of the comments , a win is a win ,,,,,,,,,,,We beat a simply horrendous team without it's stars , but we need the points,,,,,,,,,,,I'm beginning to think Simms has more potential than I first thought , yes he does have a cannon that often goes right to the keeper , but I believe he just tries to put his shot on goal and is not trying to place it , someone needs to give him some scoring advice , if he adds this to his play he may be something special , it is really hard to drive him off the ball , a tendency most of the other mid-fielders do not possess.............chalk one up..........


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