30 May 2009

First Impressions -- New England Revolution 2 : 1 D.C. United

I have generally been impressed by the jobs of the center officials in MLS this season. While there have been quibbles and complaints, for the most part the officiating has been iffy at worst, and more often than not decent.

Which is why I hope that Hilario Grajeda was misled by his AR on an atrocious penalty kick decision. If the AR said he saw the foul in the box, then the Center Official should give lee way to that call. It doesn't matter if the AR apparently has the eyesight of a guacomic puffer-fish, supposedly he has the angle.

And it was on a travesty of a penalty kick call that New England won this match. To be fair, Bryan Namoff helped things along. His reaction to Taylor Twellman going down in the box in front of him was that of a blood covered throwing away a knife when the constable walks in the door. "A body? What body? Oh, that body! It was here when I got here. So was the knife. And that letter that says 'I'll get you Mr. Twel, see if I don't!' I'M NOT GUILTY!!!"

And while New England undoubtedly stole this match, they at least brought the lockpicks with them for most of the second half, and United did put a pile of money in the front window under the lamp before casually announcing "We'll be out for the next forty-five minutes, I sure hope no one takes this" and then strolling away.

Still, why I can rationalize that New England certainly had the second half far more their way than United had the first half in its favor, it doesn't feel that way at a visceral level. This feels like a match taken and gift-wrapped for the other team. I laugh when I hear stories from Europe of referees being smuggled out of the country after a controversial call, but a game like this makes me feel a bit more sympathy for the hooligans and has me checking the major thoroughfares out of Foxboro.

What a punch in the balls.

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At 31 May, 2009 01:48, Anonymous Grunthos said...

And yet, as you suggest, if I were in Tommy Soehn's shoes, my post-match comments would have been as follows:

"Yeah, sure, the refs blew that call worse than a debutante in a John Holmes flick. But seriously, after notching one goal in an utterly dominant first half, then failing to show up for the second, why complain about the refs? We need to get our own house in order first."

Nonetheless, what really gets my goat about this kind of thing is not the refs, but rather the total lack of recourse for punishing Twellman. That was flat-out cheating. There's zero question, watching the replay, that he flopped, pure and simple, and deliberately pouted afterward like there was some obvious foul, how could they miss it? Yet no action will be taken, no grievance heard, no outcome but points in the table for NE.


I think we play best in a 3-5-2 with this group of players, and I wouldn't advocate shifting things around for giggles... but we really needed to switch to a back 4 in the 2nd half. When your opponent puts real pace on both flanks, sticking with your 3-man back line is inviting failure, no matter how well they are playing.

Time to soldier onward...

At 31 May, 2009 02:56, Anonymous Juan-John said...

At least we get the Red Bulls this coming Thursday, which if DCU can beat them, I may be tempted to sing "Na na naa na, Na na naa na, Osorio, Good Bye" on my way out of RFK.

At 31 May, 2009 12:47, Blogger Ifavordefense said...

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At 31 May, 2009 12:53, Blogger Ifavordefense said...

Watch the MLS highlights of the DC – NE match. On NE’s first goal Chris Pontious followed the NE runner back, but when the ball was played to the runner, Pontious stopped following him and took a “watching the ball game” stance sort of in front of the goal. The DC player who had been on the ball did not take up the runner, the runner was left to make an unchallenged cross. This, I believe, is the way DC has given up several counter-attack goals this year. Our guys get back, they are not lazy, but they do not seem to know what to do when they are back. We had several people in front of the goal, all seemingly playing elementary school “zone,” but not marking NE players. Some intense “marking up” drills should be a part of DC United training before the next match.
The referee? I expect the league will look at the tapes. The last four cautions in the match were for dissent, which suggests that if the players have input the league will not get a good report from them on the referee. The referee may disappear, trust the league on that. Tommy Soehn’s attention should be on training the team.

At 01 June, 2009 10:10, Blogger Bob said...

At that point in the match, the foul had better be OBVIOUS and EGREGIOUS to warrant that game deciding call. United would have had to taken away a 100% goal scoring opportunity for that call to be made. Twellman had his back to goal. Relying only on the AR's advice, I think that's a bad call.

At 02 June, 2009 17:55, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very off topic but I was wondering if you could help me out. I'm going to be in DC this weekend and I was wondering if you could recommend a good spot to watch the US match.

I am staying near Dupont Circle, but am willing to go just about anywhere the metro will take me.

Only wish there was a DC match on Sat as well.

Thanks much,

At 02 June, 2009 22:01, Blogger Bob said...

For the US match, check out Lucky Bar in DC or Kitty O'Sheas in Arlington.

At 03 June, 2009 08:31, Blogger The Bird said...

Otis -
If you are in Dupont, Lucky Bar is right around the corner on Connecticut Ave. It's a great atmosphere for futbol, and there will likely be lots of other US supporters there.

At 03 June, 2009 21:27, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucky Bar it is.

Thanks for your help.

At 04 June, 2009 10:18, Blogger Bob said...

Otis - do you wish you had stayed home?


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