31 March 2008

Debriefing for Match 13.01: At Kansas City Wizards

Kansas City Wizards 2 : 0 D.C. United

Six Word Novel Recap

Ask me the secret to comedy.

Media, Traditional and Otherwise

The Washington Post, Steve Goff: "the 2-0 defeat before a sellout crowd of 10,385 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark did not sit well with a United team that retooled its roster in hopes of winning something other than a regular season title. Ivan Trujillo and Claudio López, the Wizards' South American imports, scored 14 minutes apart early in the second half as Kansas City handed D.C. a decisive, early-season defeat for the second consecutive year."
The Washington Times, Cole Young: "D.C. United probably wishes it could replay the 61st minute of its MLS opener against the Kansas City Wizards last night. United had a goal called off because of an offside call and then gave up a goal on the ensuing possession as it fell 2-0 at Community America Ballpark.
The Kansas City Star, Bob Luder: "Ivan Trujillo and Claudio Lopez, both of whom signed with the Wizards earlier this month, each scored second-half goals. A mostly rock-solid defense did the rest in leading the Wizards past the reigning Major League Soccer Supporters Shield holder in front of — yes, a sellout crowd — 10,385."
MLSNet, Thomas Foote: "Managing player minutes with a big international game following was one thing. United is facing the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions' Cup semifinal against Pachuca of Mexico on Tuesday."
UnitedMania, Chris Webb: "United had the best of the rare scoring chances in first half with a 17th minute blast from Luciano Emilio that was well saved over the bar from KC keeper Kevin Hartman. United did well to create their usual smooth possession game in the first half but an early second half goal set KC on their way to the win."
DCUMD, Shatz: "One lesson learned though... Kansas City is probably better than I thought. Claudio Lopez really seems to have been embraced by his team, and Ivan Trujillo seems like a bit of a jackass, but will probably score a lot of goals this year."
Down the Byline, Mike: "Death, taxes, and beating DC to open the season. Those are the three assured things for the Wizards the past two seasons...To start the second half, though, it was the Wizards that dictated the tempo, and only 2 minutes into the second half, Michael Harrington's cross was touched by Jack Jewsbury into the path of Trujillo who slotted the ball inside the near post of Zach Wells to make it 1-0 Wizards."
Six Yards North, QJA: "The thing is, there's a big drop off in talent between our starting XI and our subs. Our lack of depth is a serious problem."
Fighting Talker, Aaron Stollar: "I am quite disappointed. It’s not that we lost, it’s that we lost making so many of the same errors we explcitly sought to fix...The attack again insisted on pounding it down the middle of the field where KC had amassed all its defenders bother, hack and repel. Quaranta should’ve been inserted at the wing, not in for Niell...Don’t get me wrong, there were new problems as well...If they say that they weren’t looking ahead to Pachuca, I want to know what the hell they were looking at. "
BLCKDGRD, BDR: "BEN OLSEN! Any questions on his importance? Gallardo will be fine, Simms is fine, sure would be nice to have two other midfielders out there in the midfield, yes? Landru talks about the formation, but what five midfielders would United use? (Dyachenko out on red hurt, but really....)"
Still Pending: An American's View, DCist,

The Good

  1. Free MLS Direct Kick Weekend: That was nice, not making me wait for tape delay. And hey, RSL actually looked good in their second half with new US Citizen Dema Kovalenko, and Columbus wasn't awful to watch, and... wait, really, this is the KC telecast? Wow, um... I can see why Dave Johnson preferred to be calling the Houston-New England match on FSC than travel with Comcast to KC for this one. Yikes.
  2. Strategic Sacrifice: Look, there was a time when a D.C. United coach would simply look at a situation like Tom Soehn had on Saturday, and would play his top XI on Saturday, and then play them again on Tuesday. And then probably for the next two games he had as well, until they were about to fall over, and then he'd bring out a reserve squad against Columbus or something, and we'd end up losing that game narrowly. That time was 2005. That Tom Soehn is willing to rest some players ahead of the CONCACAF Champion's Cup match is the right decision, as right now that competition takes priority over the MLS regular season. That's the right decision. And while I somewhat agree with QJA above, I disagree in terms of actual impact. While our reserved are not as good as our first XI, I still think Domenic Mediate and Devon McTavish (and Niell, for that matter) put in good minutes. As good as Fred, Olsen, and Moreno would have? Maybe not, but that's why they are reserves and not everyday starters. Now, I do agree with some of the kvetching about Quaranta for Niell as opposed to, say, Quaranta for McTavish, but I think this was not so much about tactical decisions on pushing for the win as limiting Niell's minutes, so even there I won't object.
  3. Fight On Through: I disagree with the sentiment that somehow United wasn't showing the effort on Saturday. I felt they fought the entire game. Yes, the final shots weren't there, but they at least were creative, and were moving the ball around decently.

The Bad

  1. Emilio: Yes, he had one blistering shot, but even that shot was probably the easiest hard shot to save (you follow me, right?) Hartman only had to make a vertical move to make the save, there was no lateral movement involved. He was frequently drifting around the field, and never seemed to be able to leverage his strengths. I do not look to Emilio to break down a defender on the dribble, but apparently he felt that was his best option at times.
  2. The Predictability of Fred: There were multiple moments when DC would get the ball wide to Fred, but on each occasion he would cut the ball in along the top of the box rather than push it down the side to whip in the cross. After a time, that became much too easy a move to anticipate.
  3. The non-deployment of Clyde Simms: KC has a Designated Player their hopes for goals rest on, so why isn't Clyde man-marking him out of the game?

Officiating Watch

Ricardo Salazar had a decent match. Yes, KC got away with more hacking than I would like, but he called it decently enough. The ARs blew one off-side call, but that was to DC's benefit. The one call that went against us that I object to was the failure to award a penalty after Domenic Mediate was tackled in the box. That call should have been made, but perhaps the feeling was the ball had gotten away from him. I still think you make that call. Still, as a whole, I have little compliant.

Man of the Match


Karma Bank

We earn 2 karma for the failure to be awarded the penalty for Mediate's take-down, but we also burn 1 karma for the horrible off-side call that disallowed what would have been another KC Goal. Overall play doesn't earn or lose any karma. +1 for the match, so +1 for the season.

Final Thoughts

I don't feel much different today than I felt on Saturday. The comments in the First Impressions are right -- If we play this way against Pachuca, then the Champion's Cup run is over. But I don't expect us to play the same way, or with the same people, in that match. I expect a better effort. For what this was, I can accept it. It's a disappointing result, but not an enraging one. I did see signs of a good defense, a diverse attack, and more reason to hope than fear. It was an away loss to a team that's pretty good. And right now, the priority must be Pachuca.

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At 31 March, 2008 13:21, Blogger The Bird said...

I think that we are going to continue to see this kind of strategic shift this season. Quotes from the FO, owners, and coaches lead me to believe that they are prioritizing trophies as 1) an international trophy 2) the MLS Cup 3) the Supporters Shield. That might be dropping season games that we probably could have won from time to time, because they are much less important than a home-and-away knockout series that is make-or-break.

Eventually, as the salary cap goes up, we'll be able to add more young talent from the US and abroad to develop a deeper squad, allowing us to rest starters and win games with reserves. But that is not going to be this year. As for me, I'd prefer to have another CONCACAF Champions Cup trophy sitting in DC that just about anything. Besides it sitting next to the 2008 MLS Cup, that is.

At 31 March, 2008 13:57, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What? No love for my recap in the debriefing? Early season form or something deeper, darker, and more sinister?

I agree that we get a karma bump for the non-call on the Mediate PK. That was a pretty big turning point. KC didn't have many clear chances in the first half and we were starting to find a few gaps. If we grab the lead, KC can't exploit us on the counter.

That said, we were flat coming out of the half, and KC were not. Ispo facto . . .

At 31 March, 2008 14:00, Blogger D said...

Bird: Agreed.

Fullback: Okay, here's how it works. I open as many tabs as I can in firefox, looking for all the blog posts I can, and in this case, well, I screwed up and missed. My bad. And your recap is one I should have included. Inevitably, I miss someone. Sorry. Really.

At 31 March, 2008 17:27, Blogger Landru said...

Landru is lamenting Mr. Soehn's apparent channelling of Mr. Nowak.

Landru is so lamentatious that he's talking about himself in the -ing third person.

And on a more personal note, Landru is thrilled beyond expression that his friend D is an apparent admirer of Lord V.

At 31 March, 2008 19:04, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No worries D--sorry if I somehow offended. I hope my mock outrage didn't come off as anything but what it was--a little friendly banter. Besides, master marketeer that I am, I got my link in the comments anyway ;-).

At 01 April, 2008 08:25, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since no one else has bitten yet:

What is the secret of comedy?

At 01 April, 2008 12:40, Anonymous Anonymous said...

D, the "Karma Bank" nonsense has got to go.

At 01 April, 2008 13:27, Blogger Bob said...

Oooh! New feature! "Officiating Watch"... love it.

Here's my contribution... Tony Limarzi on the tape delayed CSN broadcast: "McTavish could probably get a sizable transfer fee to the Jamaican Premier League..." Funny stuff.

And if someone didn't watch the DK coverage, like I didn't, then we have no idea what that stuff about Dave Johnson was about.


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