There is a reason why Chicago is at the top of MLS' Eastern Conference--they win and they deserved to win last night at RFK Stadium. While Columbus might pass the Fire this weekend, the Eastern Conference so far this year has been the Columbus/Chicago show and deservedly so.
Last night, United looked, well lost. Defensive lapses happen and it is hard to blame United for any individual lapse in any given game. This is a game played by humans and they make mistakes. The problem is that United is making the same mistakes over and over again, game after game. United's marking is horrible, their communication is lacking and the defensive scheme "created" by Tommy Soehn simply isn't working. Last night, only one defensive player played consistently well, Bryan Namoff. The Gonzalos (Peralta and Martinez) had flashes of good play, but they consistently seemed out of position. Martinez in particular looked out of place and had it not been for a bit of luck that crosses were too far for Chicago's Blanco or Barrett, Zach Wells would have been one on one severa times, particularly in the second half. Martinez is experienced enough to know better about position and should know better than to argue with his keeper as I saw on more than one occaision.
The first Chicago goal was a defensive lapse in marking (Quaranta) and communication (Peralta and Martinez). That the same combination of factors has been seen in other games is troubling.
Two other matters stuck out last night. United could not win and hold onto the ball. Their lack of effort on 50-50 balls essentially allowed Chicago to dictate the flow and pace of the game. Once United got the ball, their touch was horrible and passing even worse. It looked like United could string three passes together unless Chicago didn't pressure and Chicago was pressuring. Gallardo (who was sitting resting a groin) is an important holding player, but jeez, can't anyone else do the job.
Second, if you want to score goals, you have to shoot the ball. In the entire game, I saw only two real opportunities for United. The first was a Moreno header that struck the crossbar (unlucky) and a Clyde Simms right footed strike from about 20 yards out that went just wide. Chicago keeper Jon Busch looked like he had it covered though. Everyone else, Franco Niell, Emilio, Dyachencko, and others simply didn't take shots.
I have had it with Emilio. It is like he doesn't even care and he is phoning in his performances. Niell looked like he was playing with emotion, but he needs to shoot the ball.
There were flashes of good play from a few players. Quaranta is making a great contribution on the right flank, he made some decent crosses and good runs. He keeps defenses honest to a certain extent.
Clyde Simms is still my selection for the most underrated MLS player out there. He put in another solid performance in midfield, attempting to move into the Gallardo role and making a good go of it.
The aforementioned Namoff did well also. But I really liked Francis Doe coming in off the bench. While I would like to see a litle more backtracking to win the ball back, Doe did look like he could provide some spark off the bench. I am willing to see Soehn give Doe a shot in place of Emilio.
Which brings me Emilio. It is time for Soehn to bench him until he can earn his spot in the starting XI again. He can't hold the ball, can't shoot, can't score and seems to be a waste of space.
It mays also be time for Kevin Payne to start looking for another head coach. Soehn is not cutting the mustard. These are the players he brought in and they cannot connect with each other. I was willing to forgive in the early weeks of the season, but with eight games gone, and the United at 2-5-1, it is time for Soehn to step up or step aside.