20 August 2008

First Impressions - New England Revolution 2 : 1 D. C. United

File under "The Better Team Over 90 Minutes Won."

It wasn't that United played horrible. This was a decent effort from United, an effort that even improved as the match went on. There were a few defensive and midfield giveaways, but none of those were directly responsible for the two New England Goals. To be fair, New England's goals were both earned through strong play and chances created with smart play over the first two thirds of the match. Yes, the ball came off of Burch(?)'s foot to Twellman for the first goal, but that move was started by some crisp passing at midfield with Twellman checking back for the ball. The second goal was a shark with a laser beam on its forehead. Again, if you want to complain, you might say Tino had given up too much ground to Larentowicz which allowed him the space to tee it up, but it wasn't egregious defending, just subpar.

And, for most of this match, while United played well, New England played better. One goal better. It's fair. If United had been unlucky, they would have been punished for their ridiculous bonehead moves at times, but that didn't happen. If United had been lucky, they would have put away a chance or two they had in the final half hour. Instead, the law of averages prevailed, and New England defends their home with a 2-1 win.

If there is one question to ask, it might be whether Tom Soehn made his move too early when Zaher came off for Thompson, but I'd rather have Soehn move too early as opposed to too late. Yes, we're arguing degrees of wrongness, but the underlying point is that I like the instinct of trying to make something happen faster.

And, one other thing - this was the greatest officiating performance ever turned in by Abby Okulaja. It was a consistently officiated match, he called things fair, he didn't call some fouls that more credulous officials might have. Seeing Abby officiate this match was to see him in a whole new way - enlightened, professional, trustworthy. Admittedly, all in all it was an average officiating performance, but when was the last time you could say that about Abby?

Goats? Not sure, perhaps Namoff for being caught out on the first goal, or Tino. Merit awards to Fred perhaps. Maybe Zaher, Crayton (yes, he was moving the wrong way on the second goal, but it was deflected, right?), and Moreno as well. The big concern - Is Emilio going quiet again? I leave you with that. Is it another scoring slump, or something more?

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At 20 August, 2008 22:12, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good analysis, but IMO I think you're being overly generous to DCU. I saw a lot of slopping passing, uncontested first and second balls, and a disorganized offense.

When does Gallardo get back? We need some poise and organization at midfield.

Crayton looked great. We missed Martinez in the back.


At 20 August, 2008 23:56, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the first half looked really sloppy and then I had to leave for the second, which you argue was progressively better. So, I'm not really in a position to comment. . .
. . . except that I am so goddamn sick of seeing soccer matches played on a pitch overlaid with American football lines. I know, I know, its not like DCU REALLY has a SSS, much to our dismay. Hell, there used to a pitchers mound circle in the turf that made the ball bounce oddly throughout last year in RFK. But seriously, the MLS has been around for how long and NE has a had team for how long and they can't get it arranged so that there aren't meaningless lines all over the field? GAH!
Again, I shouldn't single out NE for that, plenty of teams have the same problem and RFK is hardly a dream environment. It just pissed me off as soon as I saw it. And there are probably some sour grapes, considering the outcome.

At 21 August, 2008 01:12, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Emilio goes 7 days (two games) without scoring (after scoring two last Wednesday) and suddenly he's slumping or maybe something worse?

I mean it was a subpar performance, and I can't remember him getting any clear chances but, really?

At 21 August, 2008 01:53, Anonymous Anonymous said...

New England was the better team for 50 of the 90 minutes and that was just enough.

Abbey was not his usual trainwreck self but when Kirk was the victim of an obvious shirt-pull on a potential breakaway late in the match and nothing was called I realized that Abbey was going to swallow his whistle which would allow New England to get away with a lot of disruptive fouling with impunity.

At 21 August, 2008 14:53, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Publius. Okulaja may not have been as bad as he usually is (slightly better smelling crap is still a pile of turds), but he still failed to make the calls that should have been made. Let them play, sure--but when a foul occurs that has game-changing consequences, make the freakin' call!

That said, even with some whistles, we would have had to count ourselves lucky to take anything from this one.


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