07 September 2008

First Impressions - San Jose Earthquakes 2 : 1 D.C. United

So Moreno is hanging out with Butch and Sundance, and Emilio's hurt, and I'm thinking, "Well, with Crayton in goal and the steadying presence of Bryan Namoff, Peralta and the new infusion of energy from Joe Vide, perhaps we can eek out a goal on a counter while keeping San Jose at nil." Except, of course, we have neither Namoff nor Vide nor Peralta, and Martinez was clearly watching his "Best of Facundo Erpen" highlight reel. Well then, perhaps some creativity in the midfield from Fred? No, he's gone too? Well Gallardo is back. Sort of. And Tino has been playing well... and... we're going to get killed, aren't we?

And to be fair, San Jose did everything they had to do. They got up two goals, and were almost on the verge of turning this into a rout. One more goal from either O'Brien or Huckerbee, and I think San Jose could have put up five on us. But instead, United kept trying to withstand their own mistakes, and San Jose's occasional surges, and claw their way back. Rod Dyachenko, who really I rarely talk about except to talk of how useless he is... well, he had a good game. Really. So did Tino. And right now I'm higher of Zaher than McTavish (of course, I'm vindictive that way. When the analytical part of the mind kicks in, I realize that Martinez caused the first goal, but Zaher didn't help to cover the second run into the box.)

So United lost. And the rest of the season will not be an easy fight for the playoffs. Craig Thompson was perfectly adequate, if not exactly good, coming on for Francis Doe, who was also mediocre in the same way. Ryan Cordeiro, Pat Carroll, and Mike Zaher made good use of their time, the same way some bit actors on Law and Order actually manage to make you remember their acting while someone like Roy Scheider or Michael York chews the scenery. Ivan Guerrero and Luis Crayton continue to demonstrate that they were good acquisitions (you can fault Crayton a bit on the second goal, where it seems he was fooled by a bouncing changeup of a shot.)

I will say this: Frank Yallop has proven exactly how good a coach he is. He's worked San Jose from a joke to a threat in half a year, something that RSL is just now becoming. He knows how to shape a team. And whatever he paid Mo Johnston for Darren Huckerby, it was a bargain, as Huckerby has now had great games every time I've seen him on TV (which, admittedly, is only twice now, but the stats from the other games make it seem like that's enough to get the picture.)

It's a loss. It sucks. But unless we fired Tom Soehn and replaced him with George A. Romero, this team was doomed simply because of the losses of personnel, and the fact that San Jose is a better team than either Chivas or RSL were in their first seasons. So we've got two goals right now: Make the playoffs (doable) and make it out of the Champions' League group (also doable). Give me those things, and we'll call the season decent enough, right?

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At 07 September, 2008 00:36, Blogger Shatz... said...


Maybe I'm still high on Open Cup afterburn, but for once, this loss didn't depress me at all. Vide, Namoff, Fred, Emilio, and Moreno all resting is a good thing.

I'm just waiting for Martinez to break out some bicycle kicks. Maybe he hasn't gotten that far in the Erpen highlight reel yet?

At 07 September, 2008 00:48, Blogger Bob said...

Jeebus you guys are a bunch of apologists!

United filled 90 minutes with a bunch of passbacks and a few hard runs by Tino. Good thing our keeper isn't Brian Edwards or we REALLY would have embarrassed ourselves. (Sorry TFC)

At 07 September, 2008 02:45, Blogger Jeff said...

I was there for this game, and I honestly didn't think Dyachenko was nearly that good. I was amazed at how much it seemed Gallardo disappeared from the match...and I feel like we kept asking Doe to do more than he's capable of.

Agreed on the San Jose analysis...they did what they had to do, and they look worlds better than they did the first time I saw them this year (against Columbus). More complete and much more dangerous.

At 07 September, 2008 13:39, Blogger Montezemolo said...

It seemed clear that the guys on the pitch just weren't comfortable with one another. They weren't making runs off the ball (which puts Gallardo in a very difficult position), could not anticipate one another, weren't forming triangles, all of which led for an inability for us to possess the ball.

That and lots of unforced give-aways in bad spots from our makeshift defense.

At 08 September, 2008 09:09, Anonymous Jeremy said...

Looking at the lineup, I was praying for 0-0. I knew that it wasn't realistic, with how hot SJ has been lately, but I was hoping that Crayton's hot hands would bail us out and that SJ would make one or two really bad defensive gaffes.

Of course, SJ's defense has been solid all year. And, with the acquisition of Huckerbee, they now have what may be the best midfield in MLS.

Saying they are better than Chivas and RSL is a complete disservice. This is the best expansion team since Chicago.

Oh, and Shatz, Moreno is not resting, he is going to be playing two games this week for Bolivia...

At 11 September, 2008 07:18, Anonymous Skippy said...

I was trying to figure out why I wasn't so bothered by this loss. Don't misunderstand, I was when it happened. But then when breaking it down, I just couldn't get riled up about it. I think its because this game is easy to dismiss, United fielded a reserve squad, more or less, away from home against a San Jose team on a hot streak. The outcome was almost preordained.
Almost; in order to win or tie that game some of the regulars were going to have to kick it up a notch - either stalwart defense or unusually aggressive attacks, something like that. Tino was plenty aggressive, but didn't/doesn't have what it takes to carry the team. And that was more or less it. No one else really stepped up to hold the line. The defenders, if anything, were sub-par for their usual. So the game ended as it should have, actually probably closer than it should have.
I agree Dyachenko had a decent game. He contributed to the attack in an acceptable manner. I still want to know how a guy the size of the Colossus of Rhodes doesn't win more 50-50 balls though.


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