16 September 2008

First Impressions - D.C. United 0 : 2 Deportivo Saprissa

I will never be ashamed of being a D.C. United fan.

I have never been ashamed of a D.C. United team.

However, I am ashamed at this game. Not even at the players, and how they played it, but rather ashamed that it has come to this. With a home match that is crucial to United getting out of the group stage of the CONCACAF Champion's League, D.C. United put out a line-up more suitable for the opening rounds of the U.S. Open Cup. You might even argue that Tom Soehn didn't really have good options, that he had to focus on keeping a rotation for the MLS league matches and a playoff bid, but that still means that this team that brought in Gallardo for international aspirations is now sacrificing everything. And if you want to argue that right now D.C. United needs to keep people fresh for points in the league, then perhaps they should have gotten 10-15 points in the first ten matches of this year, as opposed to 9. That might have made things a little easier at this point, no? Every game matters...

As I said, I don't begrudge any player their individual performance in this match, but it was hardly a team. These players didn't know where each other were, and when they did they couldn't always get a pass out in the right area. They were outclassed by Saprissa at almost every position on the field. They were sacrificed like Nick Van Sicklen against Pumas in 2005. Despite that, they still managed with 10 men to generate some good chances on goal: Clyde Simms header, the two Marc Burch free kicks... that wasn't bad kids.

If I do have a problem with a player, it is Devon for getting sent off. Go ahead and make the argument that the red was harsh. Really, I understand where you're coming from. It doesn't matter. Apparently Martin Kove walked up to Devon after the referee had halted play and said "Sweep the leg." And while you might have given a yellow, it was such a blatant challenge to the order of the game that I can see the red as a fair, if tough, decision. It was insanely stupid.

Still, I am ashamed of what happened in this match. Ashamed on behalf of the fans who were more dedicated than I and got out and paid money to sit in the stands, only to see United field the reserves. Ashamed on behalf of the players who were stranded in a situation that primed them to fail.

This match was a betrayal, and it's just a matter of figuring out who the traitors are. Was it Tom Soehn for putting out this line-up and having this team in a point where we're scrounging for points for a playoff run? Kevin Payne and Dave Kasper for getting so many of the early season acquisitions wrong? Lady Luck for damning us with injuries to Olsen, Peralta, Vide, Gallardo, Guerrero, Emilio, and Fred recently? The League with its unmanageable roster rules when it comes to international competition? Pour a shot for each of them, and down them all, and maybe it'll make tonight feel better. Or, at least, more difficult to remember in the morning.

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At 16 September, 2008 23:59, Blogger The Northern Virginia Conservative said...

I was there... Utterly embarrassing. This is the most important competition of the year, adn we dogged it. Perhaps worse, we were outnumbered by SAPRISSA FANS IN RFK!!! I actually sort like Saprissa and hope they and we advance out of the group, but it was humiliating. And what were Wells, McTavish, Thompson and Cordeiro doing starting a game this big? No wonder we were outgunned.

At 17 September, 2008 07:49, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truly, that game was ugly and I agree the McTavish foul was absurd. The card was absurd, but giving the ref the opportunity to make the call was absurd in the first place.
But I don't know that United was ever going to do better. Given the injuries, United's position in the MLS league right now and general lack of depth, I would have to guess that 3/4 games like this are going to end with a similar result. What wasn't mentioned in your post was that all the MLS teams are doing poorly. That probably won't continue, one or two may do well. But in general, I think its become clear that MLS teams, on a good day, in season, with a full starting 11 can do well against the best teams in the region. But they simply do not have the quality or depth to take on the better Latin American teams with a handicap.
As United fans, I think we tend to look at it through our prism of "What in the blue hell is going on with this team this year?" But the players came out, played hard, clearly wanted it and came up short. Zach Wells wasn't a beast in goal, but this wasn't one of his poorer games (yes, his keeping was questionable); the same can be said of other players. In many ways, this wasn't one of the inexplicable "United" losses that we have seen this year.
So I do think that a full discussion of this loss has to include the discussion of the MLS as a whole (salary cap and scheduling and everything else). I'm not saying that the MLS lost this game; United lost it as well. I'm just thinking that the deck was stacked, not insurmountably but still stacked, against them.

At 17 September, 2008 08:24, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A red was going to come at some point. The ref made that clear when he gave Wells a yellow for pointing out that the idiot didn't call an obvous hand ball right in front of him.

What is sad is that the officiating last night is probably the best officiating that we are likely to see in the whole tournament.

Regardless of the lineup questions, our entire starting defensive line was on the field, just standing around ball-watching on that first goal. I can't even find a word to accurately describe how rediculous that goal was. Apparently, Saprissa attackers LYING ON THE F-ING GROUND are better than our entire defensive line!!!

Except for that play, I think that we started the game reasonably well, even considering the bad officiating. After the red, I just couldn't watch anymore...

Soehn should have taken the team off of the field in protest. We have NO chance to win this tournament and should return focus to MLS. We might as well just forfeit the rest of the games.

At 17 September, 2008 09:20, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't share your outrage, D. Bailing on this tournament was the only sensible call given the situation we are in. I can't seriously blame the front office, because nobody plans for this kind of injury situation, they aren't given the resources to have good reserves available, and the schedule is a complete farce.

Frankly, I'm much happier that Jaime got a day off than unhappy that we stunk up the joint.

At 17 September, 2008 12:34, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being a Saprissa Fan is more than soccer, is a feeling and for some of us is part of our culture, and fill our insides with passion.
That is our secret, everybody wants to be part of this purple team. And for those who were on RFK stadium and watched the saprissa's group of fans, they know what i am talking about!

At 17 September, 2008 19:24, Blogger The Northern Virginia Conservative said...

Normally I'd be all over people like Ricardo here... but he's right. The Saprissa fans came in force and celebrated the whole game.

And bail on this tournament? Come on. Let's just resign ourselves to a mid-table finish in MLS, play the backups in MLS outings and try and win this.


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