18 August 2008

Debriefing for Match 13.19: At Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire 0 : 1 D.C. United

Six Word Novel Recap

Black and red likes some yellow.

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Chicago Daily Herald, Orrin Schwarz: "Things changed at the start of the second half Saturday night at Toyota Park. Fans in brand-new No. 20 jerseys sat up straight. Section 8, quiet much of the first half, suddenly found its voice. A sense of electricity pervaded the nearly sold-out stadium. Only the score didn't change..."
The Washington Post, The Goffather: "Brazilian midfielder Fred scored on a 27th-minute header as United (9-9-1) atoned for last Sunday's 4-1 loss at New York, earned its second shutout in three league matches and snapped a seven-game unbeaten streak by the Fire (9-6-5)."
MLSNet, Kathryn L. Knapp: "'We lost our concentration on our marks,' Busch said. 'We fell asleep a little bit. They got an easy header. We have to pay attention to our marks. Second half they had one good shot. The rest was easy.'"
MLSNet, Kathryn L. Knapp: "One goal proved to be enough as United held on for the win -- thanks in no small part to the play of Crayton. The Liberian international signed with the team Friday and started his first MLS game Saturday. In his debut, Crayton collected a win, a shutout and made two saves."
The Chicago Sun Times, Nick Firchau: "McBride went to work immediately after entering...He won headers at midfield and in the penalty box, and narrowly missed out on an assist when Andy Herron drifted a shot over the crossbar in the 48th minute."
UnitedMania, Chris Webb: "...a match that saw both teams lay the wood to each other all night long..."
Fighting Talker, Aaron Stollar: "The two big talking points will be Louis Crayton’s outstanding if understated performance and the officiating. First on Crayton, let me ask this. Was there anything he did yesterday where you thought that Wells would’ve done a better job? The answer, quite simply, is no. He showed far more confidence and poise dealing with crosses and balls sent high in to the penalty area. His only bobble came in stoppage time when he spilled a cross while clearly being fouled. That uncalled foul brings us to the second point, which is the bizarre performance of Tim Weyland’s officiating crew. That was a physical match last night and one between two teams that make these matches hard to referee. That’s evident by a 15-13 foul count. But how, from that nearly even foul count could Weyland give DC seven bookings to only one for Chicago, I have no damn idea. "
DCUMD, Shatz: "I'd say any game that we play against Chicago where Blanco doesn't score is a good game for Clyde Simms. Would be nice if he stopped giving the ball away sometimes though."
The Fullback Files, Fullback: "...there was a shifting of the gears that seemed to take place in my head during this match. Rather than dreading the inevitable moment of madness from the United defense that would lead to Chicago sticking one in the net, I was expecting a big play from Blanco or McBride to do the dirty deed. That's a massive psychological shift--when you worry about the other team having to do something, rather than your own defense tossing up the mandatory brain-fart."
Goalscoring Robot, Sarah: "As for Crayton? He did a good job. There were several times when I was like, oh, crap. But about half of those he was fine, it was mostly my leftover Zach Wells angst coming through. Crayton made me worry a few times, aside from the Wells-related things, but he never really let us down. I expect, if he can keep this up, that once he gets to know our back line, he'll do better. I mean, he can't be worse than Wells at this point. And, if nothing else, he kept a clean sheet -- our second of the season."
BLCKDGRD, BDR: "Chicago devised and refined the strategy for beating United: Beat United. And since this was the first game v United since the USOC game, United came in ready for a dirty Fire and the dirty Fire was thoroughly unprepared for a dirty United, and like all true bullies Chicago pussied before a fight. wOOt!"

The Good

  1. Even When You Suck, Do Not Submit: There were mistakes a plenty, but at least for this match DC didn't react to their mistakes by promptly rolling over and exposing our bellies. Instead, people tried to cover for each other make plays. What a novel concept.
  2. Fred Gets Attention: The cool thing on the corner kick goal wasn't Fred finishing it with his head, or the nice back post ball from Moreno. No, the cool thing was right before the kick was taken, when Fred realizes he's unmarked. He throws a quick wave or two to Moreno, who sees it and correctly anticipates the run. When was the last time a United player called for a ball and actually killed someone with it?
  3. Louis Crayton: We're all in agreement - one game does not a legend make. For all we know, Crayton will be coached into a jello pudding pop over the next few games. But dear god, he actually owned a box. Not just controlled, but out and out dominated.

The Bad

  1. Competence, not Excellence: With Gallardo out, the playmaking responsibility (if not formal role) has been allocated to a combination of Fred, Tino, and Moreno. While not exactly bad at it, no one has excelled, and this helps explain the scarcity of chances from the run of play. Let's remember - Emilio needs service, and there was not a whole lot of it in this match.
  2. The Back Line isn't Solid. It's more a dotted pattern, perhaps those irregular dashes you find in MS Word: Look, I got to be honest here -- Our center back situation is a horrific liability. Last night convinced me that Devon McTavish simply doesn't understand communication with a keeper, he twice abandoned a mark without being sure that a keeper was coming off the line. Marc Burch is not particularly reassuring either. Our central defense is a mess, and it can't be solved with quantity. I'd almost prefer a 3-5-2 now simply because I think Clyde Simms and Joe Vide dropping back deep is preferable to the excess of incompetence between McTavish and Burch, or McTavish and Carroll, or McTavish and anyone. If it weren't for the fact that apparently we're supposed to start 11 players, I'd call for Devon to take some time on the bench and get his game back.

Officiating Watch

Center official Tim Weyland was correct in his calling of fouls, but as Sarah, BDR, and pretty much everyone recognize, he had no consistency in when to hand out cards. That's not good officiating. I'd like to say this was one of the worst MLS officiating performances I've ever seen, but I've seen too many MLS Games.

Likert Scale Rating: 2 - Below Average

Man of the Match

The easy thing is to say Fred because he scored the goal. However, it also happens to be true in this case. Very few giveaways compared to the normal Fred game, and he didn't try and be overly complex. Take the award Fred. Merit awards to Crayton and Moreno. Censure to Burch, McTavish, and Namoff.

Final Thoughts

The most galling thing about this season is the recognition that if somehow DC does recover, and go on a run, and even win the MLS Cup, then we're pretty much the 2005 LA Galaxy. As epiphanies go, that one kind of sucks. The oozing, festering wounds of the start of the season have pretty much tainted even a win like this. Last year, I would have hailed this win as "good teams get tough wins." Now I just breathe a sigh of relief. What has happened to my fandom? Have I lost the faith?

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At 18 August, 2008 15:47, Anonymous Grunthos said...

"I'd like to say this was one of the worst MLS officiating performances I've ever seen, but I've seen too many MLS Games."

Preach it, brother. Preach it.

"What has happened to my fandom? Have I lost the faith?"

Tosh. You're reacting to the team in front of you, not to some fiction of what the team might be in someone else's imagination. Right now, 2005 Galaxy? Sure. That's reality. You'll have lost the faith when you start to assume that just because DCU management made a couple of mistakes this offseason, they've turned into Alexi Lalas.

Our defense does, in fact, suck right now. It's easy to see how it could be restored to decency: get Peralta back and either bring in someone to pair with him in the middle or switch to a 3-5-2. But if that doesn't happen this year, we can accept that there will be a serious flaw and still root for our boys to win silverware. Other teams have won MLS Cup with less. And it's not as if Emilio, Moreno, Fred, Simms, Namoff, and Martinez don't deserve our cheers. Maybe Crayton and Guerrero will have earned those cheers, too, in six weeks.

If the new guys are as good as they have looked so far, I think we're beginning to shape up pretty nicely for next season, actually. Barring contract problems and/or unexpected departures, we'll go into the new year needing only two things: a new CB, and a couple more useful bench players. That's a pretty good situation to be in.

At 18 August, 2008 16:25, Anonymous bdr said...

Faith? Fandom?

Yes yes yes how deliciously meaningless
Yes yes yes how effervescently meaningless
Yes yes yes how beautifully meaningless
Yes yes yes how profoundly meaningless
Yes yes yes how definitively meaningless
Yes yes yes how comprehensively meaningless
Yes yes yes how magnificently meaningless
Yes yes yes how incredibly meaningless
Yes yes yes how unprecedentedly meaningless
Yes yes yes how mind-blowingly meaningless
Yes yes yes how unbelievably meaningless
Yes yes yes how infinitely meaningless

At 19 August, 2008 08:44, Anonymous Mickey said...

"...if somehow DC does recover, and go on a run, and even win the MLS Cup, then we're pretty much the 2005 LA Galaxy."

While I don't disagree with the comparison on an objective basis (i.e., the regular season records look alot like), if you shift your perspective on this season, you may better enjoy a late season run. However, one needs to look at DCU as a plucky team - rather than an elite assembly of 11 MVP-candidates (which is where I started the season out).

As precedent, I offer other similar late season performances for purposes of justification that this team could deservedly "earn" a title at this point:

- The NY Giants finished the 2007 regular season 9-6 (and lost to ALL of their rvials during the regular season) before taking the Super Bowl last year.

- The Florida Marlins fell below .500 early in the 2003 season only to sneak into the post-season realtively undetected and win the 2003 World Series (against the Yankees).

- Following some dramatic off-season changes (including the firing of Rick Carlisle and the hiring of Larry Brown), the Detroit Pistons hammered their way through play-offs with full-game series to beat the heavily favored LA Lakers in 2004.

At 19 August, 2008 10:16, Blogger Oscar M. said...

The 2005 Galaxy - are you serious? We'd be more like the 2004 United - struggling somewhat after a strong start and getting hot at just the right time.

To be the 2005 Gals, we'd have to get the 4th seed in the weakest of the two conferences :)

At 20 August, 2008 00:48, Anonymous goose said...

It's more than MLS Cup... we're just six points back for the supporters's shield with a game in hand and 11 games remaining.

The Triple is still in play.

Nothing is over till we say it's over! Now, who's with me?!? Let's go!

At 20 August, 2008 08:56, Anonymous Mickey said...

Have fun stormin' the castle, Goose!

At 20 August, 2008 10:14, Blogger rke said...

Quick, call the Brute Squad...

I'm with you Goose. It's a tight table and we're starting to look healthy again. We'll see who jumps on-board after tonight's romp against the "top" team!


At 20 August, 2008 14:00, Anonymous The AMT said...

wait... we're seriously only 6 points out of first right now... with a game in hand??

How is that possible?

At 21 August, 2008 01:46, Anonymous Publius said...

I'm guessing Weyland has some hard on about professional rather than reckless fouls. Only one of our cards was for a rough challenge.

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