26 April 2009

First Impressions -- New York Red Bulls 2 : 3 D.C. United

You're here? Quick, inside. Shut the door. Quick! Now down the stairs. Turn on the light. It's just us here, right? Did you bring it? Good, good. Let's see it then, open the bag.

Ahhhh, and it is ours now. What do you mean, what do we say to people? We'll say we earned it. If we all back each other up, no one will give us away.

Yes, I know it's stolen, but if we all agree to ourselves that it isn't stolen, then people will just assume we earned it. And, to some degree, we did. Theft takes work. It may not be the kind of work that others respect, but it is still work.

Tino, we needed your quick reflexes on the passes to gain entry to the area. Boyzzz and Rodney, we needed your speed to race through the guards. Luci, we needed your strength to break down the door. And Chris, we needed you at the last moment to unlock the safe and take the prize. Three points, stolen? Yes, but ours unless others catch wise...

Since it's just us United fans here, we can admit that this was a game that United stole, that through 89 minutes New York had certainly done enough to win the match, let alone draw it. But it was also a very sloppy game on both sides, and when a game is as sloppy as that one is it lends itself to moments. And these were moments where individual talent could, and did, play the critical role. If there is one thing to take from this match for me, it is that this United team, even without Moreno and Gomez, does have attacking talent that can win a match. And they did. That doesn't mean that the talent was successful for the entire match. Consider that of United's three goals, only one (the second) was the result of any sort of sustained possession. The rest were opportunistic play combined with players not surrendering on a moment. At the end, as Boyzzz Khumalo raced in on John Conway to feed the ball to Chris Pontius, there had to be a feeling that Chris was going to put the ball over the crossbar again. And yet he didn't, and United comes back with two goals in the final five minutes to rescue a match that they arguable deserved to get nothing from.

The point, though, is that New York and DC had a sloppy match the entire time. Part of this may have been the turf, which exaggerates the spin on the ball at contact as though Phil Mickelson were playing most shots. But part of it was the willingness of both team to play long passes that would occasionally be brilliant but far more often would fall to a defender stepping up at the right time. This game was made to provide the unpredictable chance, and United simply capitalized on two very late. To that extent, as much as New York felt cheated, they also contributed to a match that allowed this to happen.

Your man of the match, for me, is Santino Quaranta, who played two excellent balls on assists. We'll hit in the debrief about Chris Pontius's skill that isn't his shot, Rodney Wallace hacking people on the sidelines and what it may mean, and we'll have to analyze this match in terms of the flow on the field. To me, without Gomez in the middle, United relied far too heavily on the flanks at the midfield stripe, which constrained their forward options. We'll also talk about Louis Crayton, who did not look good, and discuss how we feel about, yes, Tom Soehn.

A strange match, one that requires me to sleep on it and think about some more. Drop off your comments as well, we'll hit things in debrief.

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At 26 April, 2009 21:26, Blogger Kevin said...

I had had just about enough in the 87th minute, so I turned the game off and walked my dog. It was a nice stroll, taking about a half hour. I got back to check my email, and unconsciously logged on to MLSnet.com. I almost cried.

At 26 April, 2009 21:27, Anonymous DCUinCT said...

I haven't laughed so hard at RBNY's expense in what seems like a long time (though probably not that long). There is no team I'd rather they steal an undeserved victory from.
I was generally impressed with most of the defense. Janicki and Namoff defend well. Simms seems to have slipped quite a bit in consistency. Santino was a very pleasant surprise.

At 26 April, 2009 22:26, Anonymous Grunthos said...

I missed the game, but just watched the highlight reel. Not sure why Crayton "didn't look good" overall, but will concede the point to those who watched the whole game. However, after reading through Goff's in-game thread, I'm beginning to have some concern that people are all too ready to pile on Louis for his faults. Sure, he's got them, and they're pretty obvious - but those same faults are the reason we (an MLS team) have access to such an athletic and agile shot-stopper. Nothing Crayton did in this match was near as bad as Conway's screw-ups. So I think we ought to be careful when evaluating him, as he is anything but mundane, for good and ill.

(Which is not to imply that you, D, were about to dis the guy. But I worry that the fan base will overreact to Louis' eccentricities, and thereby miss the considerably talent he does bring to the table.)

At 26 April, 2009 22:29, Blogger I-66 said...

I was unsure who it was that scored the final goal because it was opposite the DC United supporters end and all I saw was a black-clad player race onto the ball and finish, at which point it was bedlam in the Giants Stadium mezzanine. Good on Pontius for not blazing it over, and for Boyzzz for making a difference when I felt like him being the offensive last sub was not enough to get us over the hump.

I still can't believe it happened.

At 26 April, 2009 23:30, Blogger Phil Gartland said...

As far as Crayton goes, I think there is enough just in the highlights that were worrying. He looked very unsure of his area, especially when the crosses were coming in. I don't think he was really at fault for the goals, but he didn't look great throughout.

As for the game, the highlights were way more fun to watch than the game. Once Osorio finally put some decent players on the field, those two goals felt inevitable. Hopefully, DC won't have to depend on poor opposition coaching for the rest of the season.

At 27 April, 2009 00:13, Anonymous Skippy said...

Just to be contrary to the general feeling: How about those new guys?!? Seriously, if DC can hang on to those guys, I feel good about the future. Of DC United, not the future in general. That outlook is, well, grim. But I digress. Pontius and Wallace continue to show talent consistently (yeah, they have problems. But considering their youth, one can't expect everything out of the gate. Just improvement. Relentless, demonstrable improvement. I don't think I ask for much).

Okay, yes, the intro captured it well. The fact that three points were attained does not whitewash the sheer horror that was the second half (I actually thought the first half looked good).

At 27 April, 2009 06:46, Blogger Shatz... said...

We may not have deserved 3 points in this match, but there were a couple matches earlier in the season where I feel like we DID deserve 3 points, but only got away with 1. This win was just cashing in the karma bank.

At 27 April, 2009 09:48, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We looked stumped for a while in the second half. Part of that was probably the guys wearing out in the heat. Another part was Rojas finally showing up for a game and Kandji being more of a handful than Oduro. Tommy did well with the subs...Barklage and Khumalo provided fresh legs higher up the field and it paid off. Santino was great and Pontius was solid.

Still not sold on Jakovic and Crayton looked shaky (great reflex saves but his judgement on when or when not to come out seems to be off).

At 27 April, 2009 11:04, Blogger rke said...

Soehn: Boys, the game is 90 minutes long. I want to see you playing until the final whistle, ok?

Boys: [crickets]

Olsen: Yo, guys -- like THIS! Take that, Thompson and all you New England dogs! ROARRR!

Boys: Oh, right -- like that! Thanks Benny, we gotcha. Tino, Boyzzz, Pontius -- we got a minute or two left, let's put these cows away!

Soehn: [whisper] Thanks Benny. I'm keeping your seat warm...


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