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.