29 June 2008

First Impressions - D.C. United 4 : 1 L.A. Galaxy

I'll admit that my cynical nature makes me want to discount this win. Surely 4-1 is a misleading scoreline? Surely L.A. isn't that good a team? Surely there must be some way to spin this as closer than it appeared?

Each objection to taking this game as a statement game is answered. United clearly created chances to deserve four goals, if not more. L.A. may leak goals like a sieve, but they're the top team in the West, were held to only one goal and were doubled up in both shots (22-10) and shots on goal (13-6). And the game was dominated by United, who earned all three points in deserving fashion. If we must complain, then we must complain that United is no facing a stretch of non-league games as we move into Superliga and U.S. Open Cup play. That's the sole thing I'm willing to point to as a worrying sign moving forward -- the lack of a chance to continue the momentum they've earned on the long climb back to .500.

Yes, you can once again say there wasn't a clean sheet, but this wasn't the fault of Zach Wells, it was one scuffed clearance by Gonzalo Perralta. Otherwise, even players that make me nervous showed well. Devon McTavish deserves a ton of credit for the way he fought against Landon Donovan, and may deserve man of the match honors for that work. Zach Wells made key saves. And Marc Burch filled in for an early injured Santino Quaranta in a way that didn't throw our midfield into disarray, but instead further pressed our advantage on the left side moving forward.

I'll admit it, you never want to be taken as a homer or a chump when you're writing. And I will have some negative comments tomorrow, but they are minor when compared with the good, and they are not pressing enough to bring up now. You never want to risk the vulnerability of belief. But this is our team: A team that finally has developed the lethal ability on attack. A team that may never have more than an average defense at best. But that's our team. And that team, perhaps infused by seeing Ben Olsen on the sideline, saw every player dig in and fight. Jaime Moreno was not just good holding the ball, he was good getting physically into players and pressuring them all over the field. Emilio and Gallardo both fought for balls to win. United attacked down the middle, on the sides, and from distance. And that is a team I am willing to believe in.

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At 29 June, 2008 20:53, Anonymous Grunthos said...

Random thoughts:

- I'm trying to think of a facet of the game where LA played at least even with us... I'm still trying... nope. Can't think of a one.

- Beckham seemed surprised by Martinez's level of play, like he wasn't expecting to be seriously challenged by an MLS defender. He coordinated well with Donovan and Klein, but you need more than that to make a successful team.

- I thought our energy level was excellent throughout the match given the jungle-climate conditions. We wanted it more than most of their guys. Although I'll give this to Landycakes: he was still trying hard long after his team had given up.

- Congratulations to Zach Wells, who finally played a competent match in a United shirt. This gives me hope he might yet turn into a serviceable backup.

- I got a tear in my eye when Benny walked down the sideline with his warmup jersey off and prepared to go in. It would be amazing to have him back even in a substitute role.

- We're baaaaaack!

At 29 June, 2008 20:56, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was the team we thought we'd see at the start of the season. This was a dominant performance in a national showcase. And Ben coming back. A great day.

Two out of four for South American acquisitions is not a bad offseason overall. (Gallardo and Martinez working out, Peralta iffy, Neil not) Now the team can turn to open cup/superliga with confidence. And the front office can turn its attention to spending 150K on a forward. Can this still be a great season?


At 29 June, 2008 20:58, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ooh... forgot to say, my favorite moment of the game was when Jaime stopped the ball at his foot in front of Beckham and just stood there at the top of the box knowing that he wouldn't be challenged. Shivers down the spine...

At 29 June, 2008 21:28, Anonymous Jeremy said...

Have to agree with Gruthos. As much as it pains me Primadonnavan was the only one in white who was still trying in the second half.

Wells and the defense were really good, except for that one horrible mistake. Better than I have seen them since Pachuca.

Maybe I am wearing tinted glasses when it comes to Gallardo, but other than his goal, I didn't see him doing anything positive. He might as well have been Mr. Invisible. I guess the ref not throwing him out of the game was just a statment that he thought Gallardo was already out of the game. If Benny is really coming back, I really hope that they move Fred into the middle and ship Gallrado home with Niell.

At 29 June, 2008 22:29, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gallardo had a monster game. He was constantly on the ball. After a few months of wondering why the heck we signed that guy (esp. for the price), he has started to show something. Now we'll see if he can keep it up.

As for Emilio, sure he scored twice, but he should have had at least four. I'm willing to cut him some slack, but he does need to finish or else I'll be worried when we're in a close game that he'll punt the easy chances like he did early in the season.

But having said that, a grand victory today. I think the heat got to Beckham since he just disappeared for long stretches. Unlike Gallardo who, again, was a monster today. As was Fred (but he's not being paid the huge bucks.)

At 29 June, 2008 22:48, Blogger Oscar M. said...

Watched this game on the HD projector, with my son sleeping comfortably next to me. By the 70th minute, I woke him up just to have someone to celebrate the win with.

1) Gallardo is getting much better, as the team gets to know his style of play. He doesn't have the flash moves, but he'll pull of some quick touches to get out of trouble or spring another player. He played a great ball to switch to Namoff, the kind that usually goes out of bounds or too far forward from most other players. He's adjusting to the league as well, although a bit whiny about being fouled. It took Gomez a while to settle into the league too, lets not forget.

2) Fred - not sure where his mind is, although as a new father, I'm sure he's not getting as much sleep as he's used to :)

3) Wells - a better game, can't fault him for the goal. I didn't have as many nervous moments watching him today.

4) Olsen - bump, glad to see him get back and what a nice surprise. On Friday on the Junkie, Burch(?) said he didn't think Ben would be back this season, if he had to bet.

We're sitting 4th in the league, we'd be first in the West. Like D, I'm worried that Open Cup/Super Liga will disrupt the team just as they are getting it together. But you never know, a good run in both tournaments could work wonders.

At 29 June, 2008 23:16, Blogger kevin said...

There were several lapses in the first half where I was intimidated, but other than that, we were thoroughly dominant and it should have been about 6 or 7-1.

At 30 June, 2008 09:20, Anonymous Bill Urban said...

Jaime Moreno was not just good holding the ball, he was good getting physically into players...

Including cranking Gecko in front of the Barra during the first half.

Welcome to RFK, and so forth...

At 30 June, 2008 10:14, Anonymous Tolik said...

I loved the RFK atmosphere (as shown on my HDTV)! No better showcase for soccer!

That was paid by the players who had to suffer through the midday heat instead of playing in evening with some reprieve from it. DC held better, LA disappeared in the second half almost completely.

I totally disagree with a casual hate of Landon. He fought well, and was annoying to the opponents, like he should. Gallardo was due for a card when he smashed into Landon's face. Its not the first time when Gallardo does that. I don't like it.

Speaking about Gallardo: its a mixed bag. He did some excellent passing and won a good share of 50/50 balls. He also gave up some possession with some terrible passing way too many times. In the big picture, he is not worth all that money, IMHO of course.

I loved that DC played with flair, with a help of lousy LA defending. Should have been 7:1 really.

Benny's come back is very encouraging. He was a bit slow, but its OK. Just stay out of trouble, Benny!

One last point. Congratulation to Spain! They deserved it! (and the pitch and the play was a few heads above the first match, but it would not be fair to compare, we know were we stand)

At 30 June, 2008 10:30, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure the Gallardo detractors watched the same game the rest of us did. He held the ball well, made some great runs, scored a goal and got an assist.

Sounds like you are just trying to stir up the pot by saying he is not worth the money. He is starting to connect with Emilio and the rest of the team. He's a professional it takes some time to get the chemistry down and it's there now, enjoy.

At 30 June, 2008 12:11, Anonymous Skippy said...

My only comment about McTavish is this - he's young, he wants to move forward in the line up. But he just pretty much marked Donovan, who has been prolific this year, out of the game with good-to-decent passes coming in from Beckham. If he'll accept the central back role completely and really learn it, I feel like he could go along way to shoring up the defense.

Gallardo - I was actually a little bit disappointed with his accuracy this game. I don't expect him to put in every shot, but there were two right before he scored that I felt he could have put in fairly easily. All other elements of his game I feel have improved though.

Benny - HA! Soehn might not be a great manager, but as a PR manager, dropping Benny in during the Beckham game was fantastic. It may have been coincidence, but I still loved it. As a side note, in terms of Gallardo, I think Benny makes the perfect case. While other players have been playing with him, Benny hasn't and wasn't at all on the same page. I only mention it as further evidence that Gallardo is good, but what he brings is something new to this team, not simply Gomez+1. Something to which they are adapting.


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