02 May 2009

First Impressions -- D.C. United 2 : 1 F.C. Dallas

In the realm of statistics that ultimately mean nothing, but are none-the-less fun to write, I give you this: D.C. United has not lost a match in which they have conceded the first goal. Again, there is a difference between consistency and resiliency, but D.C. United have the second trait fully demonstrated in the early matches.

The major storyline from this match has to be Jaime Moreno's two goals. That was impressive. Even more impressive was the fact that this wasn't a case where Moreno was quiet for most of the match, and suddenly snuck free for his two goals. Instead, Jaime had been active the entire match. With no Gomez in the starting lineup, Moreno was very effective coming back to midfield and distributing the ball. United's attack looked potent. Quaranta, Pontius, and Moreno all put balls low and hard and just beyond the far post in the first half. United's possession was purposeful and intense, but ultimately unrewarded when Dallas took the early lead. Still, it was clear that United's midfield had Dallas flummoxed for the most part, and the two goals in the second half were both beautifully executed by Moreno and exquisitely set up by Namoff and Gomez respectively.

Tom Soehn did look to lock down the match, but unlike previous matches where it seemed a switch was flipped to "bunker," this match featured a more gradual transition starting around the 70th minute. It began with Wallace sliding back, then the substitution of Jacobson And as a result, it seemed more effective and easier for United to accommodate. Furthermore, it was clear that United's defense was starting to lose its shape and confidence as the half wore on, and the injection of defensive support was called for. This is the right way to try and lock down a win.

The start of Milos Kocic was a surprise, and he did seem a bit nervy in the first half. However, while he never dominated his box with full control, he does earn points with me for getting to all of his punches.

My first impression is that this was the best match that Jaime Moreno has had all season, even without the goals, and the best coached match Tom Soehn may have ever put forward. We will look at some of the bad in the debrief, but I am overall pleased with pretty much every facet of this match. Man of the match is Moreno. Certificates of Merit to Marc Burch, Bryan Namoff, Santino Quaranta, and Christian Gomez. Or at least that's what I'm thinking as we approach debrief.

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At 02 May, 2009 22:29, Blogger Erik said...

could you say that they are consistently resilient?? hmm

At 02 May, 2009 22:32, Anonymous Grunthos said...

We looked sharp. Very sharp. From the get-go. Easily our best match of the season.

Let me give a shout-out to the defense, which played well as a unit for the first time in 18 months or more. They covered well for each other, never panicked under pressure, and Burch and Namoff made very intelligent choices about when to push forward and when to hold back.

However, I can't cut Kocic as much slack as that. Yes, he's a rookie, but that was still a poor performance - bad handling and hesitant decisions from minute 1 to minute 90.

Also, sorry to see Tino once again display his limited ceiling after Goff did such a nice article on him today. His poor first touch and erratic technical play will prevent him from ever being a star in this league, which is a shame.

Still, way more positives than negatives in this one. If this is a sign of things to come, I'm very happy. Vamos, vamos!

At 03 May, 2009 09:18, Anonymous Jeremy said...

When was the last time that you felt confident that United would come back from a deficit?

Certainly not at any point last year, and most of 2007 they were a team that played with a lead much better than playing from behind.

I like that a lot. A team that can fight back consistently is a team with character.

It would be nice if they could also learn to play with a lead. This match may have been a step in that direction, although the final 10 were a bit hairy.

At 03 May, 2009 16:54, Blogger The AMT said...

I think the Christian Gomez we saw for that last half hour is the Christian Gomez we've been waiting for. That assist on Jaime's second tally was vintage Gomez-Moreno. Really incisive pass, anticipating Moreno's run perfectly. Gomez was making runs off of Wallace (and using Wallace!) and making very astute passes once he hit the pitch.

I think I heard Tommy say something about waiting till the other team tired a little bit before bringing Gomez on. Considering he won't be able to do the full 90 every game anyway - especially in busy periods like this week - I think I can get behind Christian Gomez, Super Sub.

As far as Tino goes, he wasn't as influential in the midfield as he was the last couple games when he played up top. I think he's probably best used in rotation with Moreno for minutes alongside Emilio at the top of the 3-5-2. In a pinch, put him in the 10-slot, but we might be better off with somebody else playing in the midfield when both Moreno and Emilio start.

I'm really, really happy with this team's progress so far this year. The next two weeks (@KC, v.TFC, @LA2) should be a good barometer of where the boys are, especially that trip to the HDC. I think my favorite thing about this team is that there is still room to grow.

At 04 May, 2009 08:03, Blogger Anatoly said...

It was a very good running offensive game pulling the opposing defenders apart right from beginning and ... with zero goals. Made me nervous. We've seen such inability to finish practically 100% chances punished many times. And Dallas indeed went on 1:0.

Kudos to our guys to show no desperation and keeping pressure on. Moreno was pure class.

I must complement Dallas goalkeeper for some outstanding reaction saves.

At 04 May, 2009 11:21, Blogger rke said...

> When was the last time that you felt confident that United would come back from a deficit?

I agree with Jeremy here. Even at the half, I was never in doubt with this game (a strange feeling, that). DCU controlled every aspect of it, except perhaps Kocic's box.

A caveat: Dallas really sucks. DCU did make a few scary mistakes that a better team would have punished us for.

Other thoughts...

Tino needs a goal, and a good one. I think he's feeling pressure from the new kids (Pontius especially), and needs the confidence boost that comes with a solid ball in the net.

I was noting after the game that there is no one on the bench that make me cringe when they come on the field. I could wish for better keepers, but otherwise our bench is full of last-year's starters.


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