18 March 2008

First Impressions - D.C. United 5 : 0 Harbour View FC

D.C. United 6 : 1 Harbour View FC [Aggregate]
D.C. United Advances to the CONCACAF Champion's Cup Semifinal

There are many ways to enjoy a game. The best is to witness it in person, in good seats, surrounded by those who share the love. The second best is on TV, intensely, scrutinizing each detail, rewinding the TiVo to examine the a back heel as though it were the Zapruder film. A distant third is on MLSLive.TV, where the screen size affects the ability to examine the shape of the game in a general sense, but still allows you to evaluate, to judge, and enjoy. Not really workable is listening on radio. And listening to the radio webcast while in Detroit (where it is cold, a dampy awful cold) and your team starts to put on the clinic? Worst of all.

The problem with radio is the single method of input you get. You are dependent on the evaluations of others entirely. Was it a nifty move, or poor defending? There is no reason to doubt Mr. Limarzi's descriptions, but there's no way to really verify that things are as they are. I may well be relying on each of you to help with the debriefing to set me straight.

That being said, I get the sense that things were very different tonight. And I could tell they were different sometime in the tenth minute onward. Yes, when the first words I heard were "and it's a long ball out of the back from United" I did curse. What, again? We had returned to RFK just to play the same type of game I swore I wouldn't see again? Would I have to find a crowbar and meet Tom Soehn in a back alley? But over the next minutes, it became clearer that United was mixing things up. Long, short, medium. That United was using its possession to generate chances. That Emilio and Gallardo were finding each other easier. That Harbour View could still counter, but wasn't finding the going on the wings nearly as easy as the last match. And then the one goal before half time, Gallardo to McTavish, and things were promising. Still, it was that kind of promising that felt like United might have managed to make things go right, but could still find some fluke way to lose. It wasn't comfortable. But at 2-0, when Emilio put one in, it felt like things were destined. At 3-0 it was time to dare fate. At 4-0, thanks to D.C. United's current leading goalscorer Devon McTavish (50% of the United offense), things were ridiculous. Then 5-0. And it felt like, well, yes, this is what I want. Not what I expect. I expect, given pre-season form and the other caveats, a win, but only just a win. A blowout, and one that while the score may flatter United, it flatters United only in the same a nicely tailored dress flatters an otherwise beautiful woman: It's just that much more. It is a nice feeling.

United's last loss of the 2007 campaign happened when I was in Buffalo. It was raining then, as I recall. And as I look out into the night from my hotel window, I can see the rain has stopped. Maybe for the first time in many months. And the game is back on.

(Debrief tomorrow, but I may need your help given that I couldn't really see it with my own eyes. But my sense is that everyone I put in the "Bad" column last week makes the good column this week.)

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At 18 March, 2008 21:44, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And as I look out into the night from my hotel window, I can see the rain has stopped. Maybe for the first time in many months. And the game is back on."

Beautiful! *wipes away tear*

(it'd be even more beautiful if it wasn't 30 degrees out in DC right now...)


At 18 March, 2008 21:54, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i dont have fox soccer channel and am too poor to aford the radio broadcast on mls.. but.. i found out that

CHANNELSURFING.net lets me watch the whole game.. it was pretty sweet.. and 5 - 0 was such a beautiful way to go.. just for futur reference.


At 18 March, 2008 21:59, Blogger D said...

Catherine-Lucia: It's !#@!@#!ing freezing in Michigan right now. There are freakin' piles of snow in the parking lots. The rain has stopped, but apparently the fog has descended.

Anon: Future note - WFED webcasts the radio for free, which is how I was doing it. But your solution seems to have worked really, really well.

At 18 March, 2008 22:29, Blogger jag said...

It's not that cold here (I work in Royal Oak and live in Clawson) and at least it's not snowing.

Also, the worst way to watch is on a illegal stream while at work without sound. Not that I should be watching it at work, but whatever.

At 18 March, 2008 22:37, Blogger Martin Shatzer said...

D, You're going to have a hard time finding anyone at all to put in your "BAD" column. Even the FSC broadcast was a vast improvement!

So to put your analogy in SAT terms... Nice dress:Beautiful woman :: Blowout victory:United... Hmm... Sorry I keep getting stuck on visualizing Ben Olsen in a dress. Just doesn't really work for me.

At 18 March, 2008 22:48, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was actually pretty comfortable at the match. Nice to have a team store, field in excellent shape, good turnout for a pretty random game on a Tuesday.

I thought we played a very good match for preseason. The touches were inconsistent and there were some coordination problems, but the team looked energetic and the play was intelligent.


Wells 6 - Wasn't tested much, made the requisite saves when called upon.
Burch 6.5 - Positioning OK, looked better on the ball than last year, had one high quality cross.
Peralta 8 - A little out of synch early, but quickly tightened up his game. Showed composure, athleticism, passing skills, and vision. I was impressed.
Martinez 6.5 - Ran well, played a solid match. Not as accomplished with the ball at his feet as Peralta.
Namoff 7 - Good outing, overlapped nicely a couple of times.
Simms 7.5 - Controlled the center well. He is still learning to coordinate with Gallardo when developing the attack, but his defensive play was right where we want it.
Fred 7.5 - Only marked down for some erratic decisions in and around the box. Showed midseason technique and ball movement.
McTavish 7 - A very good game out of position. Was anonymous for most of the first half, and his first goal was a gimme the likes of which he won't see again for the rest of his career, but he settled in well over time and contributed at both ends.
Gallardo 7 - The technique is there as you would expect, but he is definitely of a different style than Gomez. Doesn't charge up the middle nearly as much, preferring to find space where it is granted and then get creative. Had a fine effort on the rebound shot after his free kick.
Niell 6 - *Very* energetic and attack minded, but not especially effective. Whether he succeeds will depend on how well he can integrate with Gallardo, Fred, and Emilio.
Emilio 6.5 - Was mostly uninvolved and unimpressive until HV stopped defending mid-2nd half and we broke the game open. Looked the least in-form of any DCU player.

At 19 March, 2008 00:18, Anonymous Anonymous said...

D, with all your travel, maybe in need of a Slingbox? Can't recommend, since I've never used one personally, but I've heard good things, and it seems like just the thing...

The game was a beauty -- great to be back in "our house" for a game. Weather held (no rain) and the crowd was surprisingly big.

We controlled much of the game throughout. The score doesn't quite represent the game though -- we really broke through for about 10 minutes in the second half to fill the scoreboard. Prior to that it was a much closer match, with the Black & Red having trouble breaking through all that yellow.

It seemed like HVFC was playing very defensively, hoping for a long game of endurance -- but then when they fell behind, they fell apart trying to adjust. Nice to see DCU break that down and capitalize on their mistakes.

I was lamenting Emilio's out-of synch presence... until he scored twice. I guess that's all one can ask of a striker!

Niell, on the other hand, looked great -- nice touch and all heart. But then, he didn't score... Still, I'm confident he'll be very strong for us this season.

Tino did nicely off the bench. Really gave us some exciting plays, leading to a couple goals. Class act coming to Brava after the match, swapping jerseys, etc.. Seems all is forgiven.

Defense is (super sweet) solid.

Fred looked good. McTavish is a monster. :)

Is it just me, or did the new guys (Gallardo, Niell) click, while separately, the old guys (Emilio, Fred) clicked. Still room to bring them together, I think.

All in all, a good showing, but leaves much room for an even better season!

- rke

At 19 March, 2008 01:12, Blogger The Bird said...

It was a great game, but I agree that the scoreline did not represent the full spectrum of the match. The first half played like a ground-out foul fest, with pretty lame officiating. Not very exciting futbol, though our defense showed well, and was super organized (almost forgot what that looked like!).

The second half saw much better possession and passing, and players starting to gel. Harbour View broke down under the pressure, and we found the weak spots quickly and exploited them, which was great to see.

Fred was definitely the man of the match. Very creative play, great work on the ball, and all heart. McTavish was full of heart too, but I have to say he was lucky on both goals. He did well to stay composed and take advantage of the opportunities, but he did not create. I was shocked at how out of form Emilio looked. He wasn't a real threat for the first half, and I was flabbergasted when he took that shot himself (trying for the hat trick, I guess?) rather than passing to Fred for the easy goal. Fred clearly agreed.

The offense looked good in general, mixing it up well and attacking from multiple fronts.

If there's one gripe, and it's a small one, it's that I wish Fred, Niell, and Gallardo would run at defenders more often. The only forward to really challenge their back line head on was Santino, who I thought made an immediate impact. He'll be fine, as long as he stays as humble as he was tonight...

Overall, an entertaining game, and a great way to start the season at home. Still lots of tweaking to do if we're going to bring home any international hardware, not to mention a 3rd straight Shield and another MLS Cup! I think Soehn is up to the task, though.

At 19 March, 2008 08:19, Anonymous Anonymous said...

McTavish is doing the best Ben Olsen impersonation that I have ever seen. Strong physical challenges, lucky goals that set themselves up at his feet. Even his hair kind of looked like Benny's last night. Put a wolfman beard on him, and I might not be able to tell the difference. Maybe the team can't either and that is why the energy is so high.

Two assists for Tino, and I didn't see anything glaringly awful from him. I'm not in love with him yet, but I don't hate him anymore. Keep up the good work Tino.

Finding a man of the match is going to be hard, although Fred has to be in the final two. What an amazing amount of work!

At 19 March, 2008 09:14, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of work rate from the forward line thru the whole game... somwething, maybe(?), we do not always have to _this_ degree?

Nice diagonal thru balls and wide play behind the opposition back line, but only really got going (as in paid off) after the lead opened up and they had to take chances.

Defnse and holding midfield just plain solid and fast and jumped on everything. Hunted in packs without leaving gaps. Almost no HVFC good chances the whole game. Partly this is because HV was pressured by all 10 field players and never given the leisure to set up. The effect was a domination of posession, or at least real scoring chances. Best team defense in a DCU game I have seen.

Still some silly dumb passes made, but honestly I can not remember a game where we did _not_ have a few doinkers like that, and in this case it was okay because (a) the team defense got the ball back, and (b) sometimes it was simply a reflection of trying very hard to force thru balls for people making runs. So an indication that we had some movement up top going on at least. And if Fred gets too fancy three times but then the fourth leads directly to a goal, who's to complain?

Gallardo has _great_ delivery on corner kicks. (had a nice free kick or two also, but we are used to that aren't we)

At 19 March, 2008 10:09, Blogger Chris said...

I know its hard to give props to the defensive mid during a 5-0 performance... but through the first two games Clyde Simms has just been so solid.

His fitness looks like its at a higher level than most on the field and he just snubs out anything coming up the middle. Wouldn't be surprised to see him on the all-star team if he stays in form.


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