31 October 2005

Recriminations, Reprisals, and Signs that You Need to Just Take a Breath

Wow, lots to talk about on Blue Monday (Tell me now how does it feel? Pretty feckin' awful, thanks for asking.) First, your guide to who is saying what in the media, and our reactions:
  • Steve Goff (Post): "DC United didn't just lose...The club was embarassed." No word on how he felt after being called out by Nowak.
  • John Hayden (Times): "The defending MLS champion was humiliated by the Fire in a 4-0 season-ending loss." Also noted: Famous head-case Hristo Stoichkov was in the locker room. A shame he couldn't attend the press conference and blame this result on FIFA fixing the match.
  • Mike Wise (Post): "Sometimes, Nowak comes across as the proverbial Eastern European manly man. The halting accent. The utter disdain for the media. That great personal flexibility, in which there are two ways to do things: Nowak's way and the wrong way...Other times, he just looks like a lot less." This is one of those interesting situations where you wonder if Wise is allowing Goff's opinion to be heard through a different voice. This is the kind of thing that Nats bloggers occasionally noticed that the beat reporter (St. Barry of Svrluga) relies on having working relations with the team. Accordingly, if he sees something he'd like to call out, he can't since it would make his job almost impossible. Cue the opinion writer who can incorporate some of the beat reporter's observations into his piece. That being said, I doubt that Eric Wynalda is an expert on how the front-office will move.
  • Piotr Nowak (MLS Quotes): "I don't have the opportunity to satisfy everyone. I will go my way even if sometimes its wrong, or you thinking it's wrong." Piotr, this is your strength. And your weakness. Joe at WCIS called you a stubborn SOB once, and he was right. We'll have more words for you later in a post temporarily entitled "Winter Reading"
  • Eric McErlain (Off-Wing Opinion): "I had the distinct displeasure of watching the disappointing end to D.C. United's MLS season yesterday evening." Eric sees Freddy being gone. The DCenters isn't sure that Freddy goes, but we admit it is a distinct possibility that makes sense. More on that later this week in a post under the working title of "Trade Freddy (or someone)"
  • Bruce's Belly: "A team doesn’t go down 3-0 by halftime without either being utterly outclassed or without having experienced some manner of wholesale meltdown." Well, yes, that is very true. But this is not about Adu/Nowak, this was much larger.

Now, for those who have already taken their maximum strength Pepcid ACs, go ahead and read the BigSoccer threads in the DCU forum, where fans apparently want Nowak, Gomez, Rimando, Adu, Kovalenko, Quaranta, and Walker all fired*. Let's take a few things at a time, and the common thread here is let's not overreact to one game:

Fire Nowak: First, he's won as many championships as Hudson and Rongren did put together for DCU. We had a decent season. Has he made mistakes? Sure. Did we look outcoached? Yup. Yet this is a point that I want to emphasize to DCU fans. Sometimes you get beat, and beat bad. It is not time to start calling for the dismantling of an infrastructure. That does not invalidate a season. Some will point to a poor record in the Champions' Cup (where DCU advanced farther than the other MLS representative Kansas City), Sudamericana (heart-breaking, but close), the US Open Cup. So what? This team didn't click in cup competition. Last year's did. Nowak has two decent regular seasons, a championship, and work to be done in the off-season. Calling for his head is stupid. Rx: Breathe into paper bag.

Trade Gomez: He made one classless mistake in an otherwise solid, and occasionally brilliant, year. If he wants forgiveness, we as fans should give it. What he did was wrong, but I think based on the TiVo replay I saw last night that he knew it the moment he was off the pitch. Otherwise he has been a class example of a player on and off the field, and he is OWED some slack from DCU fans. Rx: Strong shot of Jameson's so you remember the stupid things you've done while in an altered state.

Trade Rimando: Okay, I do hold Rimando responsible for 3 of the 4 goals last night, and he could have been responsible for two others that didn't find the net. That being said, he has, this season, compensated for defensive lapses that kept DCU in games that might otherwise have dropped. He needs to change his approach to set pieces. Whether he can do that at this point in his career is debatable. Rx: Another shot of Jameson's, and let's see how well you stick to your line.

Trade Adu: Because of this game? Because of his comments? No, if Freddy is to be traded, it should be for a rational reason and neither his performance nor any "Freddy distraction" rise to that level. There are reasons to trade Freddy. These aren't the reasons. Rx: Ritalin, which will hopefully help you focus on your analysis.

Trade Kovalenko: Yes, he plays too much. But he plays hard. And yes, he's getting older. He can't always go 90. He is not why this game was lost. And let's not overlook a brilliant stretch of play mid-season where it seemed like he had discovered a scoring touch. Rx: Morphine, for the broken leg you'll get when Dema finds out you've been calling for him to be traded.

Trade Quaranta: Like Adu, there is a logic here. But it has nothing to do with Sunday. He does tend to disappear at times, and he was outmuscled on the flank by Chicago's midfielders. Still, there's upside, and he is getting better. Rx: Protein Shake, let's see if you can add more pounds of muscle this off-season than Q. If you can beat him arm-wrestling, you can call for him to be traded now.

Trade Walker: He's not Eskandarian, and people constantly expect that somehow he's going to develop the "Finish first, finish last, finish always" touch that is attributed to Eski. No, he's going to finish occasionally, say, 50% of the time. His strength was speed, in getting to balls that other's can't get to. As the pitch deteriorated, so did that ability. You may still want to trade him, but not for the Chicago game. Rx: Lunestra, you'll feel better after a good night's sleep. Hopefully, so will Eski.

Okay, so everyone whose overreacting to the Chicago game, please calm down. If we make moves out of reaction to one game, then they're probably not going to be the smart moves we need to make to improve for next season. This needs to be approached rationally, with a level head and honest eyes. Right now, we as fans feel too negatively to be objective about what we have, just as after a victory we feel too invincible. In case your wondering, I'm sure that Kevin Payne went through a pack-and-a-half of Marlboro (Lights, I'm guessing) in order to chill him out enough to deal with all the yelling and moaning that was going to come.

Shakespeare is wrong. "If it must be done, twere best done quickly" he wrote in MacBeth as he considered the possibility of making various regime changes. He's wrong. We need to do things a little more slowly, to consider what the right course of action is. Sadly, we have plenty of time for that now. So let's use some of it, and use some common sense.

*Okay, that's a slight exaggeration. Slight.


At 31 October, 2005 10:27, Blogger Kali said...

Blogger rep for the New Order reference...

At 31 October, 2005 10:30, Blogger Kali said...

I forgot to ask before... where was Josh Gros? Simms?

At 31 October, 2005 11:39, Blogger D said...

Gros and Simms were on the bench. Simms on the pine I can kinda understand. Gros was a bit confusing.

At 31 October, 2005 12:26, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Well, yes, that is very true. But this is not about Adu/Nowak, this was much larger."

I didn't mean to imply that. Sorry if I was unclear.

Anyway, about your "let's not overreact to one game" comment:

1. The Pumas debacle.
2. The USOC meltdown.
3. The Catolica humiliation.
4. The Chicago disaster.

That's 4 big games, and 4 big defeats.

That's not one game, that's a pattern.

My DCU post-mortem later this week will probably be about this pattern.

At 31 October, 2005 13:48, Blogger D said...

Dawg: If you read the MLS Quote Sheet, there is a segment where Nowak lays on the sarcasm regarding Goff's Sunday morning article. I mean, heavy amounts of sarcasm. Copious, even.

Yeah, Goff's article was essentially a retread of L'Affair Adu, which seemed an odd choice, but Nowak's elevating it to the post-game press conference level seemed odder.

At 31 October, 2005 13:53, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post...Rimando should be replaced..not counseled to change his style. He's not a smart keeper (more on that below)

The rest I agree with. You can't blame this on Nowak..the players were terrible. Let's not forget that they are professionals (OK..some quite poorly paid ones, but pros none the less) and should be held to a certain performance standard.

This stuff happens....can't overreact..but as Belly put it..the pattern has been set. Nowak probably could be blamed for the Pumas debacle, but Rimando was really poor in the Catolica match and this one. I didn't see the open cup so I couldn't tell you about that one.

Didn't Rimando give up a long shot last year in the MLS cup? I'm a keeper..and you have to read the ball coming off the players foot. A left foot shot hit with the outside of your foot will always bend the SAME way..Rimando isn't a smart keeper and didn't pay attention to how the ball was struck on the third goal. He also made the mistake of moving before he'd read the shot. He is always GUESSING where the ball will be rather than reading and reacting. This tendancy kills him on crosses..and apparently now shots.

The third goal ended our chances to come back..simple enough.

At 31 October, 2005 14:34, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree that Rimando was responsible.


Man marking was AWFUL for the entire game. Losing Erpen probably caused the pre-game marking assignments to be reworked, but still. That's no excuse. Second and fourth goals were played to WIDE OPEN positions (second off a woeful clearance attempt).

Admittedly, they were down a man when Marsch struck, but c'mon ... single player 15 yards out, dead center?

On the other hand, completely agree with holding, not selling, the farm. Nowak is trying to rebuild the dynasty, and he's a far cry closer to Bruce than his predecessors.


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