27 October 2008

Do not despair; rather, find a hobby!

A comment from grunthos after the live blog is worth its own post. It is appropriate. It is funny. It may be of help to some of you who see a long winter of hard drinking to bridge the gap to next season.

Which soccer god did we offend?

Although I have to say, while we played well, I didn't feel like we were dominating Columbus. And after the Crew scored, you could see the weight of all those games played come crashing down on the team. The last 15 minutes we were tired, deflated, and didn't want it enough. Not that I can blame them.

I'm unclear as to what sacrifices I should offer this winter. Should I clip out anti-soccer rants from Kornheiser and Wilbon, shred them, and burn them with incense? Should I buy an authentic Bobby Boswell Dynamo jersey, and cheer them to another cup? Should I buy an authentic Zach Wells jersey, bury it (respectfully) at midnight in an unmarked grave, while chanting seven Hail Marys, seven Our Fathers, and every song on the Barra Brava playlist? Or perhaps I should buy a medical model of every injury sustained by a United player, grind them all into powder, and mix that into a concrete that I can then use to build a shrine to the spirit of El Diablo?

Help me, I'm confused. So confused...

All good suggestions. Does Jim Zorn know anything about soccer?

26 October 2008


4:43 Arlington Daylight Time: Behind The Badge has the starters. Looks like it is Emilio and Doe up front with Jaime available on the bench.

4:45pm: Until the match starts, we'll be going with clock time but when the match begins, I'll switch to game time tags so that there is no confusion when I begin to fall behind by a few minutes with TiVo pauses and slow typing. Who knows - maybe it will be confusing anyway. But I hope that it will be enjoyable for everyone and add an extra dimension for you. This won't be a play-by-play, but I hope to chime in now and again with a comment or a wisecrack or suggestions for what the ref should go and do. Please join me in the comments section and let me know where you are watching. Feel free to make suggestions, criticize or laud. Enjoy the match!

4:54pm: Washington Caps got a late result last night when Alex Semin put one in in the 5 minute period of extra time. Caps beat Dallas Starts 5-4 in OT. But after the Stars opened the scoring, the score went 1-0 to 1-2 to 2-2 to 2-4 to 4-4 before the end of regular time. Earlier today the Skins dispatched with the Detroit Lions 25-17 after coming back from 10-6 at halftime. So we may be in for a wild ride.

5:00pm: I can hear Dave Johnson talking to me! And when are we, my fellow CSN viewers, going to get a Cheeburger Cheeburger in DC or VA?

5:04pm: Oh my. Dave and Thomas are discussing the importance of goalkeeping in this match. I just saw that goal that Crayton surrendered with some dangerous ball handling (was it against Chivas?) I hadn't seen that yet. But I know a lot of people were predicting something like that. I'm really happy that I wasn't watching that live. That would have hurt.

5:07pm: Bench players are 15 - Dyachenko, 17 - Khumalo, 23 - Martinez, 99 - Moreno, 2 - Peralta, 3 - Vide, 1 - Wells

00: WHISTLE - Let's do this.
01: Free kick for DC in offensive third. Good early chance. Burch puts it up in the sun, but Hesmer takes care of it. 'Tino with some early hard D that is allowed by the ref (Mark Geiger), but let's hope his aggressiveness doesn't catch up with him. Although I guess this is do-or-die, so play on!
05: Doe to Emilio who leaves it for Guerrero who unleashes a bomb, but it goes over the bar. They should have done better with that, but it is good to see early chances and that they are communicating and seeing each other.
09: Janicki with a great sliding tackle to break up a nice Schelotto ball for A. Moreno.
11: McTavish just beats Moreno for a ball played through. Nice D.
12: Emilio thwarted IN THE BOX by Brian Carroll. Corner kick is OFF THE POST by Namoff. Are you kidding me? Two fantastic chances - good to see!
17: Overlapping run by Namoff and then his cross just sucked. Right now DC is dangerous and the CLB defense looks shaky. They are poorly clearing stuff and turning the ball over in dangerous places. We need to convert one of these SOON!
22: If CLB scores, it is coming from A. Moreno. They keep playing him balls over the top and he's doing well with them but so far has been turned away by Janicki and McTavish.
25: Amarillo caution for Emilio for persistent fouls. Is he frustrated already?
32: McTavish gets yellow after a tackle on Eddie "That's So" Gaven. If you don't get that reference, don't worry. It is REALLY stupid.
34: Ref gives a horrible free kick outside DC's 18 when DC defender interferes with Gaven who had NO CHANCE to get to that ball. Luckily offside on the free kick.
36: Very good counterattack involving Fred, Emilio, Doe. Nothing doing. Encouraging, though.
39: I was just about to say that Quaranta had been quiet so far when he just teed one up from outside the 18. He was off balance from the start though and put it over the bar.
42: Namoff steals it, drops it for Emilio and he BLASTS it, just wide.
stoppage time: HOLY SH*T - Emilio off the post, cleared by Hejduk. Subsequent corner is headed over and that the first half whistle.

Breathe. 0-0.

  1. Just as the match was beginning, Dave Johnson mentioned that the expansion draft for the Seattle Sounders is coming up. Advice to DCU: if Seattle takes Dyachenko, do not make a trade to get him back. Just consider it as a "meant to be" situation.
  2. In response to reader comments, yes, I think we are controlling the match. Lots of good chances for us, lots of awkward clearing by their defense and the post saves them TWICE. Very frustrating.
  3. As much as I'd like to see Moreno come in for the second half, both Emilio and Doe are playing well up top and working well together. Maybe Jaime can take over for Simms and try to distribute from the midfield.
45: Whistle. GOALS! Lots of them. No lineup changes at this time.
46: Namoff involved in a collision with A. Moreno. He's trying to walk it off (knee to his thigh), but DCU is down a man right now.
47: Namoff reenters. He'll be sore tomorrow.
51: Was that Crayton's first save? Free kick for DCU outside CLB's box.
52: Burch drives the ball into the wall and creates some confusion but CLB clears and then Burch takes out GBS for a yellow.
53: JAIME MORENO in for McTavish!
55: Not sure where the free kick for CLB came from (I was getting that first beer), but Chad Marshall almost got a head to that. Whew.
57: Quaranta finds Emilio with a through ball that CLB manages to clear for a corner
58: Corner is cleared but Burch's placement was good.
59: Another chance is wasted. Doe centers, Fred steps over (dummies) and Jaime puts it over the bar. He should have buried it. FAIL!
62: Fred has a nice chance and tries to bend it with the outside of his foot but Hesmer gets it no problem.
63: Corner for DC - uneventful.
65: BC carded for interfering with Jaime's attempted restart.
68: Khumalo looking to come in - he's in for Doe.
71: Khumalo's first time in the offensive third results in a good cross and a quality chance, but Emilio puts it over the bar.
72: Moreno controls and leaves it for Emilio who touches to Guerrero who RIFLES it on frame and Hesmer makes a crazy good save. Corner.
72: Jaime takes it and Khumalo puts if off the crossbar from almost point blank. Jeebus, this is craziness!
74: Peralta is getting ready to enter.
75: Peralta for Namoff.
76: Columbus scores - guess how - off the post. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! 1-0 for the home side. Someone named Brad Evans.
80: Columbus supporters are chanting "No More Playoffs!" I am angry. Trying to prevent myself from turning into the Hulk.
83: Running out of time. We need 2 goals. The frame of the goal should be sufficiently weakened due to repeated stresses that any shot will collapse the goal frame and the ball will roll over the line.
84: Set piece for United. Top of the box.
85: Off the wall and went JUST wide. Corner. Good centering by Fred and headed out for another corner. Meh. Goal kick. There is so much action right now that I am not doing it justice, but bottom line, still 1-0.
88: Pat Noonan for GBS.
89: Crayton just put a long goal kick into touch. Ugh.
90: Jaime just dribbled around in a circle and then evaded 2 defenders. That man is magic. 3 minutes of stoppage.

FINAL WHISTLE. Red Bulls are through. :(


Rongen just said, "The better team did not win today." I totally agree. Top marks to Doe, Janicki, Moreno, Fred, Namoff. Everyone gave everything they had for the entire match and no one should hang their head over the effort and the quality on display. Except for the result and the implications of that result, that was actually a really awesome match. Marks to both teams and good luck to CLB in the playoffs, despite your supporters. On the other hand, commentor jrnail23 said...

When Peralta came into the game, I turned to my girlfriend and said... "watch, we're about to give up a goal... I don't know why, it's not always his fault, but when this guy comes into the game, the defense turns to crap."

Am I psychic, or what?!?
Ugh. I have to agree with that too. Evans simply had too much space and hit a beauty shot... off the post and in.

Debrief to come. I'm kind of drained right now. I hope you enjoyed following along with me. Leave your six word recap suggestions in the comments.

Liveblogging today's match at 5pm-ish

  1. OK, so The Black & Gold Standard finally deigns to mention today's match. Even though the previous post was them already looking past us to the first round of the playoffs. Let's hope that is the theme of today's match. Their post today attempts to jinx us by recapping our last match against the Revs and by mentioning that Twellman scored the first goal against us. I'm surprised that they didn't somehow mention - uh, what's his name - Chad Barrett.
  2. The Marine Corps Marathon is currently in progress and the runners went right past my condo building this morning in Mile 3. I saw two runners wearing DC United gear. Vamos!
  3. While liveblogging the match later, I'll be watching the Moreno v Moreno matchup. Looking back, Alejandro scored both goals in the two clubs' last meeting. I'll have my Bolivian National Team jersey on under my DC United jersey.
  4. I'm hoping for a WHITEWASH tonight!

25 October 2008

DCU @ CLB, Sunday, Oct 26

The final DCU match of the regular season, just like FREE BEER advertised at Hunan Number One Chinese restaurant in Clarendon, is TOMORROW. DC United needs a stone cold victory tomorrow to grab the last playoff spot.

Oct. 26, 2008 | 5 p.m. ET (ONN*; CSN-DC)

(*Does "ONN" stand for for the Onion News Network? Is the DCU match being broadcast by the Onion News Network?")

For all of your match preview needs, see dcunited.com, Behind The Badge or The Black & Gold Standard.

That last one is actually a huge joke, because as of 9:34pm EDT Saturday, there is NO MENTION of tomorrow's match on the official Columbus Crew blog. I guess that's the luxury of winning the supporter's shield - being able to look past your last regular season match to the first round of the playoffs. Never fear, however, because their blog does address issues such as: "celebrity bartending [...] with Frankie Hejduk, Duncan Oughton, Jason Garey and the Crewzers at Brewsky’s Sports Bar, the Crew’s official away game viewing headquarters", "Pat Noonan on CD101" (whatever DC101 wannabe radio station that is...) and the "2008 Team Awards Ceremony" complete with "Casino Night" at someplace called the "Lifestyles Community Pavilion". hahaha: Lifestyles.

So what's the point of all of this? I'll be LIVEBLOGGING the match tomorrow starting sometime around 5pm. I hope you will follow along with me during the match from your computers (since we don't really have an official away game viewing headquarters) and join me in the comments section to let me know when I type something stupid or possibly something hilarious.

Guest bartender Frankie Hejduk's hair is just as nice as some of the Crewzers'...

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21 October 2008

DCU @ Cruz Azul

0-0 but down a man already in the 32nd minute. Ridiculous. Who is this hack ref? Can't a 3rd string keeper catch a break?

UPDATE: 1-0 against. Crayton. Halftime.

UPDATE 2: OMG - I'm so glad I was on the record w/r/t this ref. WTF?!?! This guy is a maniac. Two keepers get red carded in the same game for those infractions? Wow. This guy needs an intervention. I've been watching on Telefutura but I wish I had been listening to Limarzi. I'll review his audio tomorrow and report back.

19 October 2008

Ruminations going into this week

Despite how busy we've been too write, it would really be poor form to not comment on the week that we just finished, and the final week of the regular season. Watching the team come from a goal down to score twice in the second half, reminded me of what kind of football we expect them to play, and how little of it we saw this season. That sounded a bit harsh. I think what I'm trying to say, is that we saw a glimpse of the team we expected to have the whole season - a skilled and patient attack, grit and determination, and solid, if not spectacular, defense.

I was ecstatic after they scored each goal, and more so when the camera panned to show Ben Olsen celebrating. This team certainly dug themselves a hole, and at least they're still fighting to get out of it. Honestly, who would have expected Francis Doe to pull us back from the brink with his first 2 goals of the season?

Some thoughts abou the players follows. Emilio had good chances to score, but still looks a little troubled by his injury. Quaranta, looks to me like he's feeling the need to do a lot on his own when the other "regular" starters aren't there. He's ambitious with his passes and attempts on goal, when he pulls it off its really something and credit him with the assist on the 2nd goal. More often than not, he shanks a shot or gives the ball away. Francis Doe may have earned himself more time on the roster with those two goals, enough to give him more time to develop. The injection of Moreno in the second half, and the immediate dividends it paid off, shows he's still an impact player and a vital part of the team's offense. However, we have to seriously start thinking of who's lining up to fill his shoes when he can't go a full 90 and/or decides to retire.

Looking ahead, Behind the Badge does the playoff calculus for us, because math is hard, let's go shopping. The scheduling gods have been for once, kind. The team will go into the Columbus game on Sunday knowing what result they need - or if its a meaningless game.

New York plays Chicago on Thursday, and with homefield advantage on the line, and the need to recapture some winning mojo, I don't expect Chicago to take this game lightly. Can New York count on more fluky goals to help them out? I hope not, although its a funny game.

On Saturday, Kansas City travels to New England to take on a Revolution team that is not following their usual playoff script. Like Chicago, I think NE will want to go into the playoffs with a victory in their final game, and they're jockeying with the Fire for home field advantage. If there is any justice, the Revolution should be able to beat a team who counts amongst its leading scorers Jimmy Conrad.

That leaves us United taking on Columbus to cap the weekend on Sunday. If both KC and NY win, start the drinking early, and tune in to see what should be Tom Soehns last game as head coach. If either team ties or loses, we're still in the hunt for that final wildcard spot.

To sum it up, we want both Chicago and New England to win this week. And not just win, but set new franchise records for margin of victory, in case it comes down to a tie breaker. Its gonna be a long week for United fans.


14 October 2008

On the Houston Louis Crayton Incident

On many occasions, this blog has written about teams getting highly charged situations horribly wrong. Real Salt Lake with the Piotr Nowak/Atiba Harris incident and Chicago with the Blanco punch both come to mind. Which brings us to the Louis Crayton incident in Houston. There was a way that Houston, in a short minded way of trying to save face, could have played the incident with their fan using racial taunts: "We didn't hear the incident, but it doesn't excuse players going into the stands and endangering our fans." Put out some faceless spokesperson for the team. That sort of thing. And, you know, they might have a point -- Crayton shouldn't go into the stands, no matter what the provocation. That would have been the right response. If you have the tolerance of a saint. Now, if my position was swapped with Louis, well, I think we would have responded similarly.

That being said, Houston is currently running a top of the website headline apologizing to Louis, and condemning the action of one bad apple. And for that, we should recognize that they have got this exactly right. Dynamo President Oliver Luck has not tried to play some silly PR game to save face. He manned up and took the high road. Houston reported the incident to MLS, without waiting for United to take some action. We can argue about details here and there, but this is a refreshingly honest and strong denunciation:

"The Houston Dynamo would like to apologize to Louis Crayton, the Liberian goalkeeper for D.C. United, for the stupid remarks directed at him after the conclusion of Sunday's D.C. United-Houston Dynamo match.

We condemn in the harshest terms the comments made by one of the 17,000 fans in attendance on Sunday. With the highest level of certainty we can state that this individual, who has been banned from attending Dynamo matches indefinitely, does not represent in any way the vast majority of fans who are part of the Dynamo family, nor do they represent the position of the franchise or the league.

...I would encourage all Dynamo fans to express to Louis Crayton and the D.C. United organization that we are an open, welcoming, and tolerant community. Please take a minute or two and send a short note to Louis care of the following e-mail address: DHicks@dcunited.com.

Really, that's about as stand-up a position as you could possibly hope for. While I am not the aggrieved party in this situation, as a United fan I have a tremendous amount of respect for the way in which Houston has approached this situation from the point of view of an organization. They think it's atypical of their fans, but they're not using that as an excuse to ignore it. They've confronted it, they've made their actions clear, and we should applaud them.

As for the fan in question, there's no doubt that he's a fuckwad of the highest order. Racism in soccer is something that we've kept mercifully far from our games for years, and now to have someone not just use racial epithets, but also to cop the language of La Liga style slurs with "Monkey" just proves what a racist, anti-american, euro-poseur this dick is. Thrice damned over. Houston may have lost a fan, but they're a better organization for it.

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06 October 2008

Dispatches from the Front

My real life job involves the mortgage banking industry at the moment. As you can imagine, it's been ridiculously busy, and I've spent much of the last two months on the road or drowning in work, which meant less time for my love here. That does not excuse neglecting a lover though, and it is clear my lack of attention is straining this relationship. As I have been on the road, and have followed the matches from afar. The news has been negative, and it seems to me that each game could have been a letter from a series of battles each worse than before...

[CUE: Ken Burns Civil War Music]

My beloved D,

Our brave campaign has taken us to Honduras, where we face a battle that we must win to keep hope alive of an international success. I do not question the Rightness of our most Noble Cause, but the men around me are tired. We must rise again and go forth into the grassy pitch to wage our war, but it is a long journey we have undertaken. To rise is imperative, but even now our provisions seem dark. I remain,

D.C. United

My beloved D,

Having lost Honduras, we move to Mexico, a last gambit to reclaim a hope of glory to the Noble Cause. In such circumstances it is easy to desire a long respite from this struggle, but still we fight. I can only hope that you remember the long sacrifices we put forward, and pray that deliverance from this long night will soon be at hand.

I remain,

D.C. United


The international campaign is lost, though certainly there are battles left to be fought, it is merely a matter of how we are seen to quit the field. We hope now to retain our hopes domestically, but the provisions are scarce, the men wounded, and our ability to mount an offensive blunted by the exertions to date. We shall be resolute in our defense, but these men have suffered much, and time is an enemy more tireless than the tide itself. Even now the southern generals shall press their advantage, and I can only hope that we can repel such monsters of hell that they throw at us.

I remain,

D.C. United


It seems now that all is lost. Generals Moreno and Emilio have been taken from the field, though perhaps the return of the little Doll can revive our fortunes. Still, the enemy has come to our very borders, and the hope of retaining the Capitol seems slight. There is a vast storm at work, and it is dark. I am reminded of the poet Whitman, who wrote "Does the tide hurry, seeking something, and never give up? O I the same." But even these forces may pale when the day is done. All that is left is honor in our remaining battles, for nothing else of consequence remains to be won or retained. And that must be enough, to one day regroup and reaffirm our place in this dark, dark firmament.

I remain,

D.C. United

Well, at least they'll be home by Christmas. Or much before.