First Impressions - D.C. United 0 : 2 Deportivo Saprissa
I will never be ashamed of being a D.C. United fan.
I have never been ashamed of a D.C. United team.
However, I am ashamed at this game. Not even at the players, and how they played it, but rather ashamed that it has come to this. With a home match that is crucial to United getting out of the group stage of the CONCACAF Champion's League, D.C. United put out a line-up more suitable for the opening rounds of the U.S. Open Cup. You might even argue that Tom Soehn didn't really have good options, that he had to focus on keeping a rotation for the MLS league matches and a playoff bid, but that still means that this team that brought in Gallardo for international aspirations is now sacrificing everything. And if you want to argue that right now D.C. United needs to keep people fresh for points in the league, then perhaps they should have gotten 10-15 points in the first ten matches of this year, as opposed to 9. That might have made things a little easier at this point, no? Every game matters...
As I said, I don't begrudge any player their individual performance in this match, but it was hardly a team. These players didn't know where each other were, and when they did they couldn't always get a pass out in the right area. They were outclassed by Saprissa at almost every position on the field. They were sacrificed like Nick Van Sicklen against Pumas in 2005. Despite that, they still managed with 10 men to generate some good chances on goal: Clyde Simms header, the two Marc Burch free kicks... that wasn't bad kids.
If I do have a problem with a player, it is Devon for getting sent off. Go ahead and make the argument that the red was harsh. Really, I understand where you're coming from. It doesn't matter. Apparently Martin Kove walked up to Devon after the referee had halted play and said "Sweep the leg." And while you might have given a yellow, it was such a blatant challenge to the order of the game that I can see the red as a fair, if tough, decision. It was insanely stupid.
Still, I am ashamed of what happened in this match. Ashamed on behalf of the fans who were more dedicated than I and got out and paid money to sit in the stands, only to see United field the reserves. Ashamed on behalf of the players who were stranded in a situation that primed them to fail.
This match was a betrayal, and it's just a matter of figuring out who the traitors are. Was it Tom Soehn for putting out this line-up and having this team in a point where we're scrounging for points for a playoff run? Kevin Payne and Dave Kasper for getting so many of the early season acquisitions wrong? Lady Luck for damning us with injuries to Olsen, Peralta, Vide, Gallardo, Guerrero, Emilio, and Fred recently? The League with its unmanageable roster rules when it comes to international competition? Pour a shot for each of them, and down them all, and maybe it'll make tonight feel better. Or, at least, more difficult to remember in the morning.