06 April 2009

Debriefing for Match 14.03: Houston Dynamo

D.C. United 1 : 0 Houston Dynamo

Six Word Novel Recap

The answer, Mr. Webb, is "Undefeated."

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Washington Post, Steve Goff: "Luciano Emilio scored less than two minutes into the second half and, despite playing short-handed for the final 19 minutes because of Jaime Moreno's red card, United upended the Houston Dynamo, 1-0, in an MLS game before just 12,594 at RFK Stadium...In the 47th minute, Namoff dropped a long ball over the Houston defense. Emilio maneuvered around crossed-up defender Bobby Boswell, the former United standout, and cleverly chipped the ball over on-rushing goalkeeper Pat Onstad...'I just tried to play into that space and luckily Bobby missed it, which created a one-on-one for Emilio,' said Namoff, who preserved the lead five minutes later with a goal-line clearance of Ricardo Clark's stab off a corner kick. "
MLSNet, Chris Snear: "Namoff returned to his area of expertise five minutes later, clearing a well-struck Ricardo Clark half-volley from 11 yards off the goal line, after it somehow had got through a maze of players during a mad scramble in the United penalty area."
The Washington Times, John Haydon: "United goalie Louis Crayton played in his first competitive game since late October and made four saves, including three in the last 10 minutes...Forward Ange N'Silu made his league debut in United's starting lineup. The Frenchman showed confidence on the ball and got behind the Houston defense a number of times in the first half. He was replaced by Moreno in the 65th minute. Moreno's night ended six minutes later when referee Baldomero Toledo issued him a straight red card for a tackle from behind on Brad Davis. "
DCist, Aaron Morrisey: "For the first forty-five minutes at RFK Stadium last night, it felt like there was something missing. Maybe it was the team's shooting boots, maybe it was the initiative. Possibly that little extra oomph which the team usually comes out of the tunnel with. It might have been the intricate touch and innovation in front of goal."
MLSNet, Charles Boehm: "Seventeen minutes in, D.C. right winger Chris Pontius cut inside and almost set up his roommate and fellow rookie Rodney Wallace with a deep, teasing cross to the far post, but Wallace's angle was too tight and his touch floated harmlessly above the goalmouth. Such scoring opportunities were all too few and far between in the early going, however, as both teams struggled to settle the ball and build sustained possession."
Goal.Com, Steven Streff: "After a first half failed to produce many chances for either side, the teams displayed more energy in the second. "
Examiner.Com, Ed Morgan: "Moreno’s red card: The play started in the midfield, with Moreno being dispossessed. Moreno, having been on the field just six minutes after Ange N’Silu started in favor of him, then raced back to defend (which is good), but when Houston midfielder Brad Davis cut to the left to try and set up the attack, Moreno caught him with a tackle that looked to be mostly from behind. Live, it appeared to be a yellow card infraction, and that Toledo was harsh with the red. Certainly, it’s rare that a player comes into the game as a sub and his first tackles results in an ejection. In watching the replay at MLSNet several times, Moreno makes contact with his left shin on Davis’ right foot. Moreno’s right foot may have also made contact with Davis as the Houston midfielder was falling to the turf, but it’s difficult to tell. While Moreno can argue he was attempting to play the ball; but the way Davis had it controlled, Moreno was never going to win it or even so much as get a touch on it. What’s worse is, the tackle came barely 12 yards inside the United half. A common foul is fine there, it’s too far out for the free kick to present much danger. But a sliding, lunging go at an attacker from behind with no chance to win the ball is going to be seen harshly by many an MLS referee. Put it this way. If Davis had fouled Moreno like that, I would have wanted Davis sent off." [Note: Sorry to steal so much of this Ed, but your analysis of this is about as good as it gets (and happens to agree with mine.) One other thing I would add is that seconds before, Ben Olsen had slid in on a tackle which was neatly avoided, and Moreno may have felt that with Ben out of the play, he had to do something. Which doesn't make what he did any smarter, but still...]
DC Sports Box, Abram Fox: "Houston came within inches of tying the game in the 82nd minute when Davis unloaded a booming shot from straight on, about 20 feet above the penalty area. The line drive kick nailed the crossbar and went up into the air and back down in the goal box, where Crayton punched it away and was fouled in the process, ending the Dynamo threat. Three minutes later, Houston had another excellent opportunity when midfielder Stuart Holden got a centering pass at the top of the penalty area and fired a low shot just a couple feet wide to the left of the net, and two minutes after that midfielder Ricardo Clark got a clean shot off from just above D.C.'s penalty area but sent it about five feet wide right.
Fullback Files, Fullback: "Another MIA week for Gomez. Marked out of games or past it?"
BLCKDGRD, BDR: "Gomez, who knows? He isn't getting the ball, whether denied by marking or service I'm not sure. He calls for the ball, waves his arms, flaps them when he doesn't get the ball, and the few times he gets the ball his touches are good. His free kicks are still terrific."
The Offisde: Houston Dynamo, Jeremy: "The Dynamo may have been better served by starting Corey Ashe and giving Brian Ching extra time to rest after national team duty. But hindsight is 20/20. Maybe Dominic Kinnear, had he not been suspended, would have pulled the plug on Ching a little earlier in the match."

The Good

  1. A Clean Sheet: I seem to recall waiting a long time for one of these last year, so it was nice to see one, especially given recent history.
  2. Everyone has a moment: Certainly, some performances were better than others, but everyone other that Jaime Moreno had a moment on the field that made me think "Yes, this person can belong out here." N'Sulu, Wallace, Pontius all had moments of goodness, although none of them sustained it. Gomez had some nice touches and flicks early in the match before fading. Namoff had some good tackles plus an unwitting assist, Jakovic nearly misplayed the same ball Bobby Boswell did (although he misplayed it in a completley different way) but settled down nicely. Burch had one nice ball in (more on this later).
  3. Louis Crayton, the Anti-Weeble Wobble (all he does is fall down!): He kept us in the game with the key save at the death. Oh, and while people may complain about Josh Wicks, plan on seeing him again at some point. Louis will miss a game for accumulated yellows at some point, all for delay of restart. Man, dude looked like a dying flounder the way he would flop to the ground with a ball.
  4. Luciano Emilio: The revelation, for me, was watching Emilio run for 80 minutes in this match and do everything, on both sides of the ball, that you can ask for. The final 10 minutes he was sucking wind, completley beat, but he had earned that fatigue with excellent effort.

The Bad

  1. Marc Burch: His body of work from the back line was the weakest of all three. I know some criticize Namoff's distribution (See last week) but Marc's first crosses were miserable, and his free kick never made it over the first defender. I will forgive all of this for good defense (see last week) but of all three starting defenders, Burch's body of work was the weakest, though perhaps it didn't have the near highlight gaff Jakovic had.
  2. Jaime Moreno: Dumb tackle, we'll address in the officiating watch.
  3. Christian Gomez: BDR wrote above about the lack of service Gomez was getting. This is true, but I don't recall Christian showing for the ball after about the first 15 minutes. That I think was the difference. Early in the game, he was checking back around the midfield stripe. Later, he was looking to put himself in space. Part of this denial may have been Houston, but not all of it.
  4. Pontius in the Middle: After Fred's introduction, where the entire stadium thought it was a straight up swap for Gomez, I was stunned to see Pontius slide into the middle, and then function as a combination attacking-mid/withdrawn forward. It was awkward looking. Maybe they're still feeling out what they have, but I want the kid to have a chance to settle into a role.
  5. The Bunkering Prior to the Red Card: Hard to argue with the decision later, including keeping Fred as almost our fourth defender on the back line, but man, we were looking like a team trying to lock it down before that. Maybe my mind is tricking me, but that's what I recall.
  6. Clyde Simms: After he took the Captain's armband from Ben Olsen, I don't think he made another tackle. While it is not in his temprament, is it wrong to wish for more bite from Clyde? If he had that, I think he'd be everything I want in his role.
  7. Houston Attacking Tactics: Yes, Holden is no DeResario, but I don't understand Houston's final 15 minutes. The idea, from what I can tell, was to attack Fred and United's right. But given Holdern's natural tendancy to drift to his right, why not attack United's left more? Burch is still out of position, Wallace is a rookie who is improving, but far from intimidating, and you've had some success down that flank.

Officiating Watch

Baldomero Toledo called a fair game, and I love Ed's breakdown of Jaime's red card above. At the time, and in the first impressions, I thought it was a harsh red, but not entirely undeserving. After a rewatch, I can say that it was a tough red, but not harsh. He had the rest of the match under control. The ARs seemed to have missed an off-side or two, and Toledo missed one hand ball and called another phantom, but overall I was pleased.

Likert Scale Grade: 4 - Good

Karma Bank

No change in the karma. The red is legit, the saves were real, the lucky breaks were evenly distributed.

Man of the Match

Luciano Emilio. Certific of Merit to Mr. N'Sulu, Rodney Wallace, and Ben Olsen. Mild note of chastisement to Mr. Pontius for not putting more of his shots on frame, but I am glad he took the shots.

Final Thoughts

A win is a win. Straight up, if you offer me 15 more of these types of games, complete with the dreary first half, bunkering, and all of that, but United gets the same result, I take it. Hands down. We have a win, a clean sheet, and more points then I thought we'd have at this time. Good stuff.

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At 06 April, 2009 08:39, Anonymous BDR said...

RE: Moreno's red - watching highlights on FSC last night, I saw Dema take a straight red for a tackle v Colorado that was very similar to Jaime's tackle, a tackle that I think would have been yellowed in past years.

Mind, Dema's reputation and all, but I wonder if MLS has directed its refs to crackdown on wild tackles - which wouldn't be a bad thing.

At 06 April, 2009 09:06, Blogger jason said...

I think USSF is cracking down on Referees not applying the Laws of the Game.

Any tackle from behind is a straight red according to FIFA. "For the Integrity of Soccer" has been talking about it for almost a year. (The author of that blog is a former NASL referee and is now an assessor and instructor.)

I also noted Toledo was being much more anal on free kick location and throw-in location on the attacking half of the field.

At 06 April, 2009 13:26, Blogger Bob said...

Two thoughts:

In spite of 4 goals in three matches this season, DCU have only 2 assists (one penalty kick and one unassisted goal). Not sure if this is interesting yet.

It might be an idea to start keeping track of these over-the-bar chances (by everyone, not necessarily just Pontius). I understand that anyone can mishit a ball at any time, but when it is already an issue after three matches, we might do well to track it and maybe create some graphs about it.

At 07 April, 2009 06:36, Anonymous Skippy said...

I'm not quite sure why everyone is such a fan of Wallace. Don't get me wrong, I like him more than most of the second-string midfielders that United has had in a while - I would be glad to see him come on for an exhausted Fred or whomever. No one on this blog has said it, but some of the people I have been talking to argue that he's going to give the starters a run for their money (I've been hearing that since game 1). Personally, I haven't seen that; I just don't get it. Anyone want to offer me insight?

At 07 April, 2009 16:27, Anonymous Martin said...

Just watched the Jaime play; I have to agree it was worthy of a red (amybe a year or two ago it would have passed as a yellow); flip flopping from what I said on the show the other day...

And yes - The answer is correct: Undefeated :-)


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