21 April 2009

Debriefing for Match 14.05: New England Revolution

New England Revolution 1 : 1 D.C. United

Six Word Novel Recap

Olsen's head(er) backs up his mouth.

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

UnitedMania, Chris Webb: "The statistics are there for all to see. D.C. United out shot the visitors 20-4, including 8 shots on goal to just 2 for the Revs. However, when you play Steve Nicol and his New England Revolution, statistics go out the window..."
Goal.Com, Steven Streff: "D.C. United dominated the game against rivals New England Revolution statistically, as the home side out-shot the the Revs 20 - 4 on the night. But a Shalrie Joseph header in the 50th minute gave New England the lead and forced United to come from behind to earn a point in the 1-1 draw."
DCist, Aaron Morrissey: "United -- in a game that unluckily got away from them -- had the sweetest kind of tie there is."
The Washington Times, John Haydon: "This should have been an easy United win. Its strong lineup faced a depleted New England team missing six potential starters. The home team outshot New England 20-4, but a loss of concentration just after halftime allowed the league's all-time assist leader, Steve Ralston, to set up Shalrie Joseph to head the Revolution into the lead. "
The Washington Post, Steven Goff: "...after squandering several opportunities and yielding an unforgivable goal early in the second half, United needed a late header by Ben Olsen to earn a 1-1 tie before 14,441 at RFK Stadium last night."
Examiner.Com, Ed Morgans: "The goal was the culmination of a second-half battle between Olsen and Thompson, one Olsen told reporters later he was happy to partake in. It boiled over briefly when the two stared toe-to-toe with only an official between them...Thompson also had a couple run-ins with United's favorite referee, Jair Marrufo, regarding fouls and/or cards that should have been called.' He’s a good kid...' Olsen said. 'I figure I’d try to start a fight with him to get things moving. It’s a heated game. He’s a competitor – there are no hard feelings.'"
MLSNet, Charles Boehm: "'It's just one of those games where you can outshoot them 20-4 and they can come away with a win -- they've just got to put one ball away,' said United rookie Chris Pontius, a downcast figure after missing several scoring opportunities. 'They put the ball away first, which gave them a little bit of momentum, too. We didn't finish our chances, especially me.'"
MLSNet, Kyle McCarthy: "'We have to do a better job of killing the game off,' Ralston said. 'There was one stretch where we kept the ball. Instead of trying to go, go, go, we brought it back out and passed it around. It was great, but then we didn't do it again.'"
DC Sports Box, Abram Fox: "That [New England Revolution] defensive-minded formation offered D.C. plenty of room in which to operate, and midfielders Christian Gomez and Rodney Wallace relished multiple opportunities to work the ball down the pitch as the Revolution defense collapsed in front of back-up goaltender Brad Knighton. For much of the first half D.C. was forced to take outside shots on Knighton, but nonetheless the Black-and-Red had several fantastic opportunities off the feet of Olsen, Gomez and Luciano Emilio among others."
Fullback Files, Fullback: "Tommy lays the blame on Simms for the double swap at halftime, claiming he wouldn't have made the Quaranta for Burch move if he knew Simms couldn't go in the second half. Fine, that gets you off the hook for not having a sub available when Jaime came up gimpy ... But that still begs the question: why Burch?...We'll never know."
DCUMD, Shatz: "This looked like Jaime Moreno's best match of the season. Even when playing the final 20 minutes with an injury, Moreno became the first player in league history to score 100 goals and 100 assists, and will probably be the only player to do that in the next 20 years."
QuarterVolley, I-66: "I was glad to see that it was Thompson who Olsen beat to score the goal, and I was even happier to see that after Olsen and Thompson fell to the ground and slid out of bounds, Olsen got up and stood over a prone Thompson, delivering a verbal message even as Santino Quaranta tugged at him in celebration. Just desserts for Thompson, and the last laugh for Olsen. I don’t know who was elected as man of the match for United, but if it was anyone but Ben Olsen then there was an egregious error."
You Are My Minions, Landru: "Gesticulating wildly at the sideline with the 'sub me' motion, Moreno showed that he was so unaware of his surroundings that he didn't realize that he was on the field with three guys who weren't there when he started. Niiiice. There's a talent shortfall on this team, and I'm beginning to doubt the heart of an awful lot of players not named Benny. And I'm damn sure doubting the testes of any coaches named Tom..."
BLCKDGRD, BDR: "...maybe Gomez will round into form (instead of just being round), maybe that was his best game back, but what does that say? It's interesting that after his awful CKs last week he didn't take (m)any last night, certainly none early. And it can't be good that as soon as Soehn made the two half-time substitutes, we turned to each other in 232 and said, uh-oh, Gomez knows there's only one sub left - when does he pull up lame?"

The Good

  1. United Plays, then Plays Some More: It is nice to have questions answered in the course of the game, and one question we had written about more than once in this blog was "What happens when United gives up the first goal?" While United certainly didn't play as well as their first half showed, they still did try to fight back and get the draw. And the result was a game that, as a whole, was the best of the season.
  2. Come out Firing: Ben Olsen from distance twice. A score of shots fired in the direction of the net. United was trying to score. Possession, as is often noted, is a means to an end, and in this match United looked like a team using possession to find different ways to attack the Revolution. Without the shots from distance, does Rodney Wallace get behind the Revolution back line to nearly link up with Gomez? I wonder.
  3. Jaime Moreno Soldiers On: Sub me? Please? What? No subs? Really? Aw... I have quoted Landru's complaint with Moreno above, and I can't disagree with anything he says, except that he stops at the 70th minute. Jaime did appear to be cramping up, and he did fight his way through it, which leads us to...
  4. The Machivallian Tom Soehn: There is an interesting discussion over at UnitedMania's podcast about whether Moreno felt too entitled to "start when he wants, leave when he wants." Ed Morgans wrote a fantastic analysis of Tom Soehn's calling out players, and whether it is good or bad. BDR has repeatedly at his site and in our comments wondered about how the players react to Tom. Now, I am putting this in the good section, but it is not necessarily a good thing, just that if we wanted, we could ascribe a very cynical motivation to Tom. Given the subbing theories that we knew of, even if Tom Soehn only makes one sub at the half (pick Burch or Simms, it doesn't matter) then in essence he still felt comfortable not subbing at least one of the propspective fatigue candidates (Moreno, Gomez, Olsen). Earlier in the season we wondered if Tom Soehn would only sub for fatigue, as opposed to tactics. We can see that, at least in this match, Tom was willing to let at least one player (and ultimately two) go the distance whether they wanted to or not. Perhaps that sends a message -- be ready to play. Don't be comfortable with your spot. That is, perhaps, the best interpretation I can come up with.

The Bad

  1. New England's Possession: Yes, you can argue that New England's B-Team can't be held to the same standard as the A-Team, but even with that caveat, the Revolution consistently made things easier for United by giving the ball away. Further, I would expect a B-Team to be somewhat scrappy in the way they tried to get the ball back, but this team consistently fell back in the midfield. Pressure can't start just outside of the box, it must start, even when bunkering, at just over the midfield stripe.
  2. Chris Pontius: To his credit, he acknowledges that he was awful at finishing. That's all well and good. And to his credit, he was very good at finding ways to put himself in threatening positions. Also well and good. And I have applauded his willingness to shoot many times in the past. But Chris, if you're going to do all that work, you must put the shot on frame. If nothing else, you know how sniffy people get, and soon the rumors will start that people aren't passing to you because you can't finish. Do you want that? Yeah, me neither.
  3. Crediting the Goal: It was an own goal. You and I both know it. Moreno shouldn't have his 100th assist, and we should remember the goal as coming from Ben's effort, but not one that he, as I understand how goals should be credited, should have the notch for.
  4. Tom Soehn Calling Out Clyde Simms: He is right on the facts, but Tom Soehn's comments did strike me as something much better kept in the locker room. It wasn't that he revealed why he made the sub, which was fine, it was the editorializing on "Clyde needed to tell me earlier." It's true, but what benefit is there to talking to the media about that than just having a quiet word with Clyde? Do we have any indication that Clyde isn't mature enough to handle that conversaiton? Not that I know of. If you don't think that Clyde Simms will listen to you in this conversation, haven't you essentially admitted you lost the locker room? Probably not, I think it was, as Morgans indicates, a case of oversharing, but c'mon...

Officiating Watch

New England may feel more sinned against here than others, and that's the point. We try to evaluate the officials without bias, and Marrufo's standards for what constitutes a foul were a mystery to me the entire game. While there were no atrociously bad calls I can cite (Marc Burch's fouling Thompson in the corner could have been on Marrufo if the AR weren't a few feet away) I had no idea what a fould was. A heel clip would be called, then wouldn't be called. It was a complete mystery.

Likert Scale Grade: 2 - Below Average

Karma Bank

Bryan Namoff's handball in the box was enough to make sure the draw was within reach. That's one point we would not have had otherwise, so karma change -1 as we burn the favor we were owed earlier. That means we have a neutral (0) karma balance for the season.

Man of the Match

Oh, is there any question? Ben Olsen had the textbook game to show how to be the player that fans of your team will love, and all other teams will hate. We hate yapping and jawing like Olsen does... except when he does it. We can rationalize this as "He's earned it" or "Heart of a Lion" or whatever, but if any other player did the same, we'd want them flayed for our amusement.

Still, he is on our team, which means he's man of the match. Certificates of Merit to Jaime Moreno for fighting through the pain, or at least the exhaustion. To Rodney Wallace for dicing up the right flank of the Revolution midfield in the first half. To Andrew Jacobson, for filling in the second half and recovering his confidence after that goal he helped allow. And to Dejan Jakovic, who had a solid game in the backline.

Final Thoughts

That there is a great disparity of thought on this match is, I think, a good thing. We don't know what to make of this team yet, and certainly that's reflected in this match. I also wonder if this match doesn't have a disparity between watching from home and in the stands. In stands, as all about you share in a mass exercise of depression as the minutes tick away, perhaps the negative feedback was intense as people felt the weight of the team not scoring. On television, at a remove, it was perhaps easier to be appreciate what the team looked like.

It is likely that the above theory is false, but if you want to leave a comment along the lines of "thought United looked bad - was at the game" perhaps we can test it.

We now face Dallas in the U.S. Open Cup. I enjoy the US Open Cup, but feel that again this should be turned over to the reserves at this round. No, there is not the same fixture congestion, but I hate the idea of sending the message that the U.S. Open Cup is the same sort of target that the playoffs, MLS Cup, or Supporter's Shield would be. Let the kids have the playing time and the chance to impress.

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At 21 April, 2009 20:11, Blogger Erik said...

I agree, Dejan had his best game yet, and he showed that he is finally becoming adjusted to this league. Hopefully with Janicki coming back it just makes the competition for the center back push both of them to be better players and that we do not just move jakovich outside.

At 22 April, 2009 07:31, Blogger Landru said...

D, it's like with my 10-year-old: Once you've pissed me off, you have to work exponentially harder to get me to notice anything good about you.

I also thought Jovan the Masturbator (pronounce it correctly, please) had a nice game that very nearly started to make up for his role in the giant gob of points that DCU isn't sitting on.

At 22 April, 2009 13:42, Blogger Bob said...

"Gesticulating wildly" seems like hyperbole. I think if there is any question to ask about Jaime, it should be why he was cramping with 20 minutes left after pine-riding out his red card last match. I know he's the granddaddy of the team, but in professional sports, I have zero patience for dehydration.

At 22 April, 2009 18:46, Anonymous FreeholdSouth said...

I have to disagree on the crediting the goal aspect. Benny's shot was on frame, and the NE defender is trying to throw his body at the ball. He ends up basically arm-balling it into the side netting even as it is crossing the line. Watch the replay from the GotW entries. If that shot had not gone it, it should have been deemed a hand ball/PK.


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