Debriefing for Match 13.17: Kansas City Wizards
D.C. United 2 : 0 Kansas City Wizards
Six Word Novel Recap
Finally, the sheet is kept clean.
Media, Traditional and OtherwiseUnitedMania, Chris Webb: "DC United got their first shutout of the season in MLS play behind a strong eight save effort from Zach Wells. Goals on either side of halftime from Luciano Emilio and Jaime Moreno got United back on track after a four game losing streak at RFK."
The Washington Post, Steve Goff: "United's victory also broke a four-way tie for fourth place in MLS's Eastern Conference. The Wizards (5-6-7) lost for the first time since June 14, snapping a 2-0-4 run. 'It took us until August, but better late than never,' central defender Devon McTavish said of the shutout. 'Everyone committed themselves to defending and it showed. It's a little bit of a confidence booster.'"
DCSportsBox, Abram Fox:"As much as Zach Wells would like you to think otherwise, the big story of D.C. United's 2-0 victory over the Kansas City Wizards was not Luciano Emilio's 11th goal of the season, Jaime Moreno's two-point night or the play of United's most recent acquisitions. No, the story was the end of Wells' hunt for his proverbial white whale, a shutout in MLS play." [NOTE: I totally disagree. I mean, yes, the clean sheet is the noticeable story, but "WELLS GETS FIRST SHUTOUT" is not the big story. This is not about Wells' hunt. See below.]
The Kansas City Star, Craig Stouffer [!!]: "The home team seized control in the 28th minute. After receiving a ball nodded down by Guerrero, Moreno slid a pass to Emilio in the center of the box, who turned and powered a left-footer under a sliding Jimmy Conrad and to the right of a diving Hartman. 'I thought I had it blocked,' said Conrad. 'He did well to squib it right between my legs and underneath my foot.'"
MLSNet, Charles Boehm: "Burch's left foot provided the inswinging delivery from the right flank and Moreno yet again proved that guile goes a long way as he timed his movement perfectly, meeting the cross with a subtly flicked header that flew past Hartman and dropped into the twine just inside the far post. Now in possession of a 2-0 advantage, D.C. looked to salt away the result..."
Fighting Talker, Aaron Stollar: "Ivan Guerrero looked like an above-average MLS-caliber player out there…. which is such an improvement over what some of the performance recently have looked like. He added a lot defensively, and even added a bit on the attack. Overall, he looks like an enormous upgrade out there over a greenhorn like Thompson. If Guerrero can set that physical, labor-intensive tone that Olsen used to provide, it could help solve some the grit and physicality problems that United seemed to suffer from at times. That could prove crucial down the stretch." [NOTE: Without getting political, can we ever use the phrase "Mission Accomplished" ever again? Otherwise, I agree with Aaron 100%]
DCUMD, Shatz: "With apologies to Wellsy, the #1 performer in this match goes to Tom Soehn, who took a roster made of straw and spun it into gold. The straight 4-man midfield worked out surprisingly well, allowing the team to control possession for the majority of the match, and shifting the solid Namoff into central defense was the right decision here."
Down the Byline, Mike: "Yet again, the Wizards offense looked anemic, refusing to take shots until it was too late and then putting them wide or straight at the keeper. Honestly it could have been worse, but for Jamie Moreno hitting the post for DC in the first half. Minus the offensive outburst against Columbus, the Wizards have struggled to score during the run of play."
The Fullback Files, Fullback: "Despite the shutout, there were wobbles aplenty--both from the back line and from Wells in net. At no point did I ever feel confident about getting the shutout. "
BLCKDGRD, BDR: "Fred ran and played like he'd just discovered freedom, knowing he could play on his preferred side, knowing he could push forward on offense rather than cheat back on defense. This might be the true benefit of the trade, a twofer: not only does United get Guerrero, getting Guerrero might mean getting Fred back too."
- 0 GA: Let's get this out of the way, since it is the key thing everyone will focus on. Yes, the clean sheet is important. And yes, the defense was decent, and Wells made some good saves, especially in the 46th minute. But that's not to say this was the best defensive effort or Wells' best game. Neither is true. The shutout was preserved, at least in part, because Kansas City didn't finish well, and because United was fortunate at times. On one occasion, Wells had vacated his line, but earned a reprieve when a shot was sent directly at his thigh. On another, he was nearly chipped, and bobbled the save fortunately over the bar. Still, the good fortune combined with a better-than-average (at least, this year) effort was enough.
- The New Edition of the New Additions: Guerrero and Vide both showed up and played at at least MLS average replacement player levels, and that's all I wanted. That Guerrero exceeded that expectation is a bonus, and combined with the excellent play of Pat Carroll, United at least gave you a concrete reason to think the last half of the season would be better than the first half.
- Tom Soehn and "Win Ugly First": I'm not as expansive in my praise as either Stollar or Fullback here, but I do appreciate the mindset. United still gave up some space in the defensive third they shouldn't have, and better through balls from Kansas City would have made things more difficult, but United wasn't an easy team to play against. They weren't necessarily a hard team, but the mentality of making things difficult is one I apprecaite.
- Moreno: 1 Goal and 1 Assist, and he seems fresh. Thing is, he'll have to stay fresh.
- Emilio, the Non-Goal Scoring Moments: He's learning to pass, even with Jimmy Conrad on him at all times.
- Clyde Simms: We can argue this, but it seemed like that he was a little out of position too often knowing he had help in center mid. I would have preferred to see him shut things down a bit more when Kansas City was running in the middle. Of course, the Wizards mitigated this to some degree by trying to play over the top more than they needed to.
- LCDR Zach Wells: I know, he gets a clean sheet, but there were two gaffes that could have been disastrous. And yes, he also saved the game on two occasions, and was better at punching balls out to midfield. We're not demoting him, so he stays at Lt. Commander, but still, he's not quite there yet.
Officiating WatchCenter official Edvin Jurisevic was not particularly good, yet there were redeeming qualities. His actual calls were all over the place, ranging from total blindness to absurd ticky-tack calls in the space of minutes. That's the bad thing, but the good was some of the calls he was willing to make. When, I believe, Moreno looked for a foul by going to the ground and grabbing the ball while on his stomach, he called Moreno for the hand-ball rather than give the foul Moreno was looking for. That's good. I appreciated that. He used cards at decent times. The problem was that his standards for a normal foul was just all over the place, and I could never figure it out. So, accordingly...
Likert Scale Rating: 2-Below Average
Man of the MatchI know. We have Wells with the Clean Sheet, but see "Bad #2". We have moreno with a goal and an assist. We have another goal for Emilio... All that being said, my man of the match is... Pat Carroll, who marked Lopez pretty well for the game, kept set pieces to a minimum, marked up well one-on-one, and played much better than anyone should have expected.
Final ThoughtsFirst, an apology. I had a really hectic two week schedule, and didn't make arrangements with my co-writers to cover this beat. That's on me, so please accept my apologies. It was wrong, and I feel horrible about it. I will take some time to try and catch up on some things I missed.
Second, even if this team is improved, it's hard to say that this team is good yet. A win over New York helps. A USOC win with New England will be even better. But four points on the road against Chicago and New England would be a ringing endorsement that perhaps this team will make a run at the end of the season, and survive CONCACAF Champions League Play to the elimination stage.