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?