04 May 2009

Debriefing for Match 14.07: F.C. Dallas

D.C. United 2 : 1 F.C. Dallas

Six Word Novel Recap

Ponce de Leon should check Bolivia.

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Dallas Morning News, Frank Servalli: "Despite being outshot, outmuscled and outplayed, FC Dallas somehow managed to escape the first half Saturday night against D.C. United with a 1-0 lead.Rather than take advantage, FCD (1-5-1) coughed up the lead in the first minute of the second half and allowed another goal 10 minutes later and fell, 2-1, at RFK Stadium."
The Washington Post, Steve Goff: "[Moreno's] goals 10 minutes apart and all-around brilliance helped United (3-1-3) overcome a halftime deficit and validate a mostly dominant performance by the home club in front of 14,225 spectators. "
The Washington Times, Patrick Stevens: "It was Moreno's first multigoal game since April 26, 2008, against Real Salt Lake, and came on a night he was honored for becoming the first player in MLS history with 100 goals and 100 assists."
DCist, Aaron Morrissey: "Moreno was far from the team's only contributor on the evening. Add Milos Kocik to the long list of rookies who have played a vital part in the opening salvo to D.C. United's 2009 season. The 23-year-old Serbian-born keeper -- who recorded 29 shutouts in his last two seasons at Loyola (MD), and had an undefeated record in 2008 -- made several key efforts in the last fifteen minutes to preserve the victory, his second over Dallas in two weeks."
Washington Examiner, Craig Stouffer: "Moreno... put in a vintage performance even before he settled Bryan Namoff’s long ball at the top of the box, beating Dallas goalkeeper Ray Burse with a left-footed shot to tie the score, 1-1, in the 56th minute. Ten minutes later Christian Gómez, who came on as a substitute immediately after D.C.’s first goal, put Moreno through once more. This time MLS’ all-time leading scorer executed a deft chip over the onrushing Burse for the game-winner and his 124th career goal."
UnitedMania, Chris Webb: "United continued to pour on the pressure and almost scored the go-ahead goal in the 60th minute. Luciano Emilio was sent through all alone on Burse. The Brazilian pushed the ball to the right of Burse in an attempt to round the keeper but his touch was too strong. Emilio got to the ball before it rolled over the endline and managed to get a good shot at goal but it too was blocked off the goal line.
MLSNet, Charles Boehm: "United's 2009 squad seems to grow in confidence and fluidity with every passing week and against Dallas the Black-and-Red controlled play from the opening whistle, carving out one scoring opportunity after another and eventually directing 11 shots on goal."
DCSportsBox, Abram Fox: "D.C. tried to get out to a quick start, attacking Dallas relentlessly in the first half. They notched 4 shots in the first 10 minutes of play, but connected on none. The trend continued for much of the half, with the ball remaining on Dallas’ side of the field much of the time. Despite the power of their attack, D.C. was unable to score on any of their 10 shots. In the 28th minute, a Dallas corner kick from Dave van den Bergh set up midfielder Andre Rocha to head the ball past D.C. keeper Milos Kocic, giving Dallas the 1-0 lead. They held the lead going into halftime."
MLSNet, Chris Snear: "'I'm not surprised; not surprised at all,' said McCarty about giving up the early second-half goals. 'It's pretty much the story of our season so far. I think we have gone into halftime tied or in the lead in most of our games and in the second half for whatever reason we come out flat. We don't bring the needed energy or desire to get the three points.'"
QuarterVolley, I-66: "I felt like I was watching blond #9 Jaime again..."
DCUMD, Shatz: "That wasn't quite as productive of a match as Chris Pontius is used to, but I just like the fact that we've got a guy who can fill in at central holding midfield when necessary, in addition to also playing on the wing, CAM, and withdrawn forward."
Fullback Files, Fullback: "Emilio, on the other hand, didn't exactly justify his DP dollars tonight. He had two golden opportunities, a one-on-one with Burse and a point-blank header. Neither of which were finished. And finishing is what we pay him the DP bucks for. Those are the goals we need to kill off games that the opposition has no right still being in as we come down the final stretch... The question becomes: if this is indeed the start of another frigid streak from Emilio, do we have the depth in attack this year to overcome it?"
3rd Degree, Jay Brownlee: "FC Dallas Head coach Schellas Hyndman would attempt to counter DC United’s 3-5-2 by playing David 'the Gnat' Ferreira deeper, effectively positioning Dallas into a 4-5-1, leaving Kenny Cooper alone up top. It didn’t work. Dallas was throttled in the midfield all match long as United kept possession and kept pouring on chances."
The FCD Blog, [FCD] Front Office: "[Hyndman] on goals coming early in the second half: 'I think the opposition is trying to play quicker balls through the center. They are trying to unbalance us with the diagonal balls. It doesn’t take a lot to figure out where are weaknesses are; I think right now we are not able to handle pressure real well.'"
BLCKDGRD, BDR: "Burch and Wallace are the side every team will attack until it's not the best option, every team will cross to the dot until United proves it can mark in the box, and good teams are going to score on United until the defense better communicates and coheres, but lordy, a 3-5-2 clicking on offense is a beautiful joy. Koton, Craycic, oy. I've read criticisms that United should have taken Stefan Frei instead of Rodney Wallace, and Wallace has so far justified his selection, but United has a keeper problem, yes?"

The Good

  1. 9/99/123/124/100+/100: Use whatever numbers you want, we simply must begin the good with Jaime Moreno. I am glad so many people also noticed that Moreno was involved in this match from the whistle, and playing to his strength. A 3-5-2 is easily victimized if a team can't hold that pivot point in midfield, and Moreno was essential to that mission early. There would have been no talk about United's dominance in the first half if he didn't play that role.
  2. 3: Any game where United's back line surrenders no goals in the run of play is a good one, and Burch, Jakovic, and Namoff played strong defense, complemented by some truly determined digging in by Ben Olsen (at one point winning a ball flat on his stomach) and Clyde Simms, who had a technically strong match. Namoff's assist on the long ball to Moreno was a nice addition, but it should not detract from the team defense.
  3. Soehn v. Hyndeman: Let's not gloss over this fact - Tom Soehn outcoached Schellas Hyndeman in this match, regardless of any personnel issues. Dallas was maligned for playing a 4-5-1, but rightfully so, as United pretty much all service out of midfield to Kenny Cooper. Further, it is a difficult thing to go to the halftime talk after dominating a half but finding yourself behind. You know the opposing coach should try and change things around, but what do you tell your players to change? Instead, Soehn kept his powder dry and his subsitutions and sideline tactics were well played. He bunkered properly and at the right time, he used Gomez effectively, and the flow of attack was dictated by events on the field and not theory.
  4. Rodney Wallace vs. Dave van den Bergh: Again, I was impressed by Rodney Wallace's defense on the wing, and he was even better when the shift to the 4-5-1 United employed at the end of the match occurred. I almost don't quite worry as much about Terry Cooke. Almost. Wallace and Burch still are, as BDR notes, the weak flank for this team, but there are signs of improvement, no?
  5. Resiliency: Commenter Jeremy in the first impressions: "When was the last time that you felt confident that United would come back from a deficit?" To be honest, I still don't. Really, I thought we would lose this match at 1-0, or give up another counter goal. I find my own lack of faith... disturbing.
  6. Beat the Bad Teams: Commenter RKE: "A caveat: Dallas really sucks." True. The thing is, I wasn't sure that United was much better than a mediocre team at the start of this season, and losing to a team that sucks seemed, well, something I should expect. I'm still getting used to the idea that United might, might, be good.

The Bad

  1. Rodney Wallace on the Corner Kick: With Wallace's speed, either he has to beat Rocha to the spot where Rocha notched the first goal of the game, or at least be goal side. I wasn't thrilled by Kocic's positioning on that goal, but even if he was where I thought he should be, that ball still finds the net. That being said, does anyone think Fred defends that better?
  2. Chris Pontius: DCUMD has a nice category of "The Rail" for games like this, where you want to talk about things that aren't quite right, but aren't truly bad. So this is a misnomer, it wasn't truly bad, but it wasn't strong. I am concerned about our willingness to throw a rookie into so many positions. I worry that he won't acquire the comfort with any position should he encounter difficulty, and that will make things difficult down the road.
  3. Milos Kocic: Very nervy start. While I appreciate his ability to punch each ball, I think a friend of mine had the right observation. If you are upset because Kenny Cooper bumped you, then you weren't making him pay enough. Wreck some havoc when you get off your line. Kenny bumped you? He'll stop when you go through him and make him pay a price.

Officiating Watch

Center ref Ricardo Salazar seemed to be playing a "no foul or a card" type of match early on, a style of officiating I am not particularly enamored with. That being said, he blew the whistle more frequently when things started to boil over, and that seemed right to me. The ARs were on top of the match.

Likert Scale Grade: 3 - Average

Karma Bank

So a win means only a potential karma burn, and I don't see much in that respect. If anything, we would have been owed karma with a lesser result, so no change for the game, and we're still in debt at -1 for the season.

Man of the Match

Jaime Moreno. You don't need me to explain this.

Certificate of Merit to Marc Burch, Bryan Namoff, and Dejan Jakovic. Grunthos has this exactly right: "Let me give a shout-out to the defense, which played well as a unit for the first time in 18 months or more."

Honorary Certificate of Merit to Simeon Varlamov.

Final Thoughts

I'm not ready to start buying post-season game plans yet, but I am starting to believe this team could be a better team than I thought. The Eastern Conference, even without an expansion franchise, does appear to be the weaker conference, which is both good and bad. It means we may have to face easier competition more times, but it also would not surprise me if the East sent fewer teams to the playoffs.

All of this makes May a very interesting month. After the Kansas City and Toronto matches, United gets a strong RSL team at home and plays the current alpha dog away. Those will be very interesting matches to watch. I'm not even assuming strong results in the first two. But if United does manage, let's say, 4 points from Kansas City and Toronto, I'm not sure it will tell us much more about where we think this team is.

So with all this in mind, we're agreed that the U.S. Open Cup match against Red Bull should again be allocated to the reserves, right?

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At 04 May, 2009 12:11, Anonymous Bill_Urban said...

Ponce de Leon should check Bolivia...Nice one, D...

At 04 May, 2009 13:35, Blogger rke said...

The Eastern Conference, even without an expansion franchise, does appear to be the weaker conferenceEesh! Hard to hear, though I can't argue.

So with all this in mind, we're agreed that the U.S. Open Cup match against Red Bull should again be allocated to the reserves, right?Can't keep starters/reserves straight this season... Who should play? ;)

At 04 May, 2009 19:56, Blogger Fullback said...

I'm not sure the Eastern Conference is the weaker conference so much as the gap between the good and the bad is wider in the West than it is in the East. Sure, we've got the Red Bulls, and maybe you can throw the Revs under that particular bus, but they've got the Quakes, Dallas, and the Galaxy.

Thanks for the Dogpile mention, and for bringing closure, as always, with the Debriefing.


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