26 July 2009

First Impressions -- San Jose Earthquakes 2 : 2 D.C. United

Test yourself for self-delusion: "A point on the road is a good thing." Right?

No, none of us are that deluded. How about this? "The most frustrating thing about this match was giving up a two goal lead." Any buyers? I see a few hands out there.

But, of course, that's a comforting delusion as well. The fact is, United could have been down two goals at half time, and a point would still be a disappointment. San Jose is not a good team. San Jose is an awful team. If it weren't for a certain franchise in Jersey, you could say things about them being the worst team in the league. It is not as though their talent was superior to United's in any way. They are scrappy, yes, I will give them that. They hustle. They have some speed. But on the ball there is nothing that impresses me.

No, if you're mad about United dropping a two goal lead, it is because you don't want to face the fact that United didn't beat a team that has 13 points this year. That's less than a point a game. And that's a really bad team.

What's so upsetting to me is that they beat a United team using a tactic that normally United can exploit: Close marking and high pressure. Normally that allows United's short passing game to warp an opposing team out of their shape, but instead United in the second half was bewildered on how to break out. After connecting on some long diagonal switches in the first half, it seemed United has fallen in love with the tactic and couldn't let go of it. And so suddenly they found themselves bottled up, incapable of setting up possession in midfield, and looking to hit the perfect long ball. They had the talent. They know the tactic. But they failed in putting it out there.

The absence of Clyde Simms should be noted here. You may not see him as excelling in distributing out of the back, but his strong positioning in transition helps move the ball around side-to-side. When Ben Olsen was gone, it seemed that United's midfield consisted of Szetela and Wallace in the middle. That's one player who has his first game with the team, and another who I think has played more minutes on the wing and at left back this season (though the left back thing seems to have stopped). Chris Pontius moved from forward to wide midfield to center mid and back to forward all in one match. And this constant shifting meant United never really owned midfield the way a five man midfield should.

So, I can whine about the giving up the lead, but I'd much rather whine about losing at all. United lost points that teams in 10 other matches did not drop. And even on the road, it is a bit unforgivable.

I am on the road in Buffalo for the CONCACF match, so if anyone knows a bar with FSC, let me know.

Labels: , , , ,

21 July 2009

Game Recap FAIL

Sorry folks. At this point it may be too late... Consider this an open thread for your comments on Saturday night's impressive win over Colorado.

1. The At A Glance stats have been updated on the sidebar. Gomez has provided three goals and two assists in the past 5 MLS matches.
2. Namoff is leading GOTW voting, 38% to 34% over Alecko of LAG. Honestly, in terms of a combination of Gomez's hard work along with Fred's patience, I thought the third goal was more impressive. Emilio continued his run and gave Fred a good option as he was holding off (!!!) the keeper. You don't see that everyday.
3. No goals for Casey, so, yay.

US Open Cup tonight at some place called Boyds, MD and then the teams travels to San Jose for a 10:30pm EST matchup on Saturday. I wonder if my hotel in Corning, NY will have FSC.

Labels: , , , , ,

19 July 2009

First Impressions: DC United v Colorado Rapids

I know this isn't how D does it. He races home from the match and types 5 thick paragraphs of analysis about how United performed and why the outcome was the way it was. He probably begins his compositions on his Blackberry while walking along E. Capital on his way to the Metro. It is very impressive.

Me? I went to Trusty's straight away with my wife and my BFF (Bendt) to celebrate United's win. And I just got home.

The goals? OMG - this thing called the "Volkswagon Game Nav" (way cool BTW) is showing Namoff as scoring twice - 14th and 56th minute. Which is awesome because it exactly highlights what BFF Bendt said about Namoff's game winning goal:
He made up for his mistake.
Seeing it at the bar, I wasn't so sure that it wasn't just a bad giveaway. But now watching it on TiVo at home, I guess it was an own goal. I haz a sad.

But I feel compelled to point out something to all of you out there on FB. I started a group a few days ago called Marc Burch needs a right foot! Please join me. We need this group (about this IMPORTANT ISSUE) because in the 33rd minute, the one and only Marc Burch switched the ball back to his right foot from his left foot and unleashed one of the softest, ugliest shots that we've seen from him.

Freedom win 1-0. I didn't see any of it; I was too busy getting free beer from my WAFC peeps.

What did you guys think about the frisbee exhibition? Totally cool, right? Sweet! The best part was when that dude hucked that one disc into the trashcan! Am I right?!?!

Labels: , , ,

18 July 2009

The Game Before The Game: Washington Freedom v St. Louis Athletica

I'm ashamed of myself for not even mentioning this at all in my two prior posts, but the event at RFK today is a doubleheader. As I'm writing this now, I'm wearing an old school, WUSA-era Abby Wambach tee, back from when she was Mia Hamm's understudy.

Freedom takes on St. Louis Athletica at 5pm, in just over an hour. However, the Freedom will be without powerhouse Wambach, who plays with the Lady Nats tomorrow in Rochester, NY, against Canada. Rochester is Abby's hometown, so it will be great if she can score a goal or three in front of family and friends.

National Team duty also means that the Freedom will be without Cat Whitehill and Erin McLeod (Canada) and that St. Louis is missing Lori Chalupny and Hope Solo (sorry fellas).

Preview 2: W2W4

Yesterday's preview post wasn't much of one, in that it only talked about what I wanted to talk about and probably nothing that you wanted to read about.

Basically, I hope that United can contain Conor Casey tonight.

I feel like there have been several times this season when United has allowed big-name, franchise players to score to easily and as a result have dropped points on the road or had to battle back to pull a point back. Most notably, I keep thinking about Shalrie Joseph's easy header back in April when the Revs were carrying about 14 players on their roster and we failed to punish them. In mid-June, United came back from two goals down against Seattle to take a point on the road. That's good, except the good guys were only down by two goals because Nate Jaqua had somehow scored and that guy hates to score.

I don't think Casey is as good as his stats are saying, but then again, you can't really argue with 8 goals in 12 games. So I hope the back line is ready for his bald, bulky, bouldering brand of soccer.

Also, Danny Szetela.

UPDATE: I just watched the "Crossbar Challenge" on dcunited.com's Access United. Yes, they were practicing hitting the crossbar... I hope that doesn't come back to haunt them. The good news is that out of the 5 competitors (John DiRaimondo, Andrew Jacobson, Boyzzz Khumalo, Ange N'Silu, and Milos Kocic) your winner is the Serbian GOALKEEPER. The forwards just couldn't keep the ball out of the back of the net.

Labels: , , ,

17 July 2009

Preview: DC United v Colorado Rapids

when: Saturday, July 18th, 8pm
where: Estadio RFK
why: Ultimate Frisbee


Bob here, now and through the weekend. I love watching soccer and supporting DC United. But when I am actually going to get outside and run around, Ultimate Frisbee is my game. And at halftime of tomorrow's match, two local club teams will put on a demonstration of the sport that actually has quite a bit of support in this area. WAFC, the Washington Area Frisbee Club, is the local organizing body for the sport. They worked with DC United to arrange this opportunity to showcase these teams and this sport on the pitch at RFK. If you aren't stuck in the beer lines at halftime, and I sincerely encourage you to make an effort to see this, you will see some great athletes pulling off some amazing throws and some amazing catches. See you there.

Also, Facundo Erpen.

Wait a minute, what??? No Facundo? Why no Facundo?

Labels: , ,

05 July 2009

First Impressions -- Columbus Crew 1 : 1 D.C. United

I don't believe in the "win at home, draw on the road" theory, but that doesn't mean the idea doesn't have value. It has value, occasionally, it just shouldn't be a mantra. Columbus has come on recently, but the single significant win was a 2-1 victory over Chivas. The other four wins include 2 wins against Kansas City (including a nice 2-0 road win), a win at home against San Jose, and a win at home against New York. At home, Columbus has not beaten Chicago, D.C. or Toronto. Compare that to United, who at least can look at their home record and cite with some satisfaction home wins against the Fire and Dynamo. These three points were more valuable to Columbus than D.C., and yet D.C. looked like the more likely team to walk away with it.

Yes, Schelotto made Columbus a capable team at any moment, and yes, Columbus were not toothless. Yes, that's how this team seems to make its living, by picking chances and going through. But I was pleased with United's play, with their attack. Columbus was at home, facing a United team down Emilio, Moreno, and Quaranta, and if nothing else had to feel that failing to get the full points would be significant. Yet United, after a shaky opening 10 minutes, exerted more control on the match as it went on. Columbus never played like a team that felt it was going to win, it played like a team that was looking for a single chance, which they got.

There is much to be said for United's performance. Janicki, who looked somewhat miserable a few weeks ago, played well in the center of the back three. If anything, the concern I had was that Burch and Namoff both seemed to be losing touch with him, opening large gaps on either side. Boyzzz was acceptable as a starting winger, and showed that he deserves the occasional start in the future. Importantly, he didn't run himself out in the opening half hour, he played well for the 55 minutes he got. Pontius and Gomez both seemed to get stronger as the match progressed. N'Silu was far too deep back given his ball control skills in this match, his touch was off and he surrendered a few too many balls when he tracked back for them.

Ben Olsen was in his rightful position, and showed why the term is "Holding midfielder." He would hold possession, cutting the ball back with reason to extend United's midfield strength. He held position on several key tackles. When all else failed, he held a huge chunk of jersey from an opposing player. I don't know how long Ben can go this year, but this was a solid match from him.

United got a solid result against a conference opponent on the road. How can I be angry about that? More importantly, they denied points to Columbus. It is a strange feeling having to take Columbus seriously, and I don't particularly like it. So I'd rather have to take them seriously with them looking up at us then the other way around.

Labels: , , ,

03 July 2009

Spotted: Jaime Moreno at AT&T National

My wife was wearing her DC United hat:

Oh yeah, Tiger Woods was there too...