First Impressions - D.C. United 3 : 1 San Jose Earthquakes
I know that I should feel bad keeping these three points for D.C. United. It feels like I found a wallet full of twenties at the side of the road, and decided to pocket the cash before looking up the address on the license inside.
Actually, that's a lie. Two months ago, if United had played the exact same way as they did this afternoon, don't you feel like the result would have been a drubbing at the hands of San Jose? It had all the hallmarks - moments of slipshod defense, long stretches where United couldn't challenge keeper Joe Cannon, awkward give-aways at midfield, yet this time United ends up on the right side of the 3:1 result. Part of that is certainly luck: San Jose had two shots rattle off the frame of the goal. That being said, part of it is attitudinal. Since Chicago, this team is looking for ways to find things to go right instead of anticipating the next slip-up.
This was not an awful game for United, I'd say it was a few steps down from what we've been seeing, so let's call it below-average. And let's admit that San Jose was, especially for an expansion team, a credible side that if a few things go right for them, they walk out with at least one point.
Tactically, United did seem to have a plan of attack. Gallardo was finding runners. United had success attacking the flanks, but couldn't execute a final pass into the middle for the entire first half. Defensively, there were problems. Perralta and McTavish never held the center of the field as well as they should have, and Clyde Simms found himself pushing too far up at moments when Gallardo had moves to one of the sidelines. San Jose, as a result, created multiple chances right down the center of the defense.
Most of that is attributable to the starting line-up. With Quaranta out, Soehn decided to Burch to left wing, Martinez to left back, and start McTavish in the middle. Which is, to be fair, a completely defensible decision. While Martinez is certainly a joy to watch when he gets forward, I feel that United is better served keeping Martinez in the middle, leaving Burch at left back, and starting McTavish at left wing(or perhaps now Cordeiro, who rarely looked dangerous but didn't look bad either at left wing). Left wing, however, continues to be a problem when Tino and Fred aren't the ones switching sides. The worry for me is that the defense pairing in the middle has to work, and it's better with Martinez than McTavish right now.
One note, quickly, about Alex Prus - He had a horrible match as center ref. The box score reads that San Jose fouled D.C. by a 2:1 margin, which is ridiculous. DC was fouling more, and Alex Prus wouldn't blow the whistle if even the slightest hint of advantage existed. As a result, San Jose had to be confused about what the standard of a foul was, and as things escalated with more and more 50:50 challenges, and 75/25 situations, not resulting in a foul call, San Jose saw no reason to hold back from riskier challenges. After all, D.C. wasn't paying a price. Which is my way of saying that James Riley is certainly to blame for his red card offense, but he was also disserviced by the examples that Alex Prus was setting.
So let's start wrapping up by saying this -- I'll take the points, thank whatever random forces of luck brought them too us, and move on from this match. The United defense is still a concern, the offense is not entirely there, but the midfield was decent. I'm thinking of Martinez for man of the match, both for his goal (what an amazing strike) and for some nice turns under pressure he executed in the defensive end. Then again, he did look kind of bad the last thirty minutes of the match, so perhaps not. We'll see. Other contenders could be Fred, Jaime, and Clyde, but Clyde seemed a bit out of sorts tonight.
Wells one gaffe surrendering the San Jose goal was bad. Ridiculously, circus clowny bad. But other than that... Well, he actually was okay. Other people for potential censure are McTavish, but he did save one goal, Namoff, and Perralta. Ditto March Burch on the wing who was as lost as a Rose Mary Woods guitar solo.
So hey, let's take the points. Even we are deserving of gifts. And a win, even a bad one, is better than a loss, even a good one. Right? Right.
One game to .500, and it's against the player who makes me call myself by an initial on this blog. Dig it.