Friday, May 30, 2008

New England 2:2 DC United

In the first half, DC United looked like a team that is not sitting in the cellar of the Eastern Conference. They were moving the ball around well, they were attacking and they were defending pretty well. United took a two goal lead and then blew it and blew it badly.

I don't know the full stats, but it would not surprise me that the in the first half, that DC United had some 60% of the possession or more. They looked solid.

On the Emilio goal, I would have hoped that Clyde Simms had actually scored, but Matt Reis made a solid save. What is good about the goal is that Emilio was at his poaching best and netted the rebound. With two goals in two games, Emilio looks to be getting his confidence back, which is good to see, but I am not ready to say he is back to form from last year as he missed a few too many opportunities for me.

Fred's goal is another example of being in the right place at the right time. Once again, Reis made a fine save (there is a reason why he is my fantasy keeper), but Fred collected the rebound and put it in from just outside the six yard box.

Fred's goal in particular gives me hope (not becuase of the goal) but because for a long time it seemed that DC United simply didn't put enough numbers into the box on the attack, often it was one or two people making almost a counterattack style effort but the midfield simply was pressing forward enough to overcome defensive numbers. Last night the midfield seemed much more coordinated, Gallardo seemed more like himself, Simms had another very impressive night and Tino showed why I think he is developing into a solid winger/midfielder. Paired with Fred on the left, Tino kept the field of play open, giving Moreno, Emilio and Gallardo the space to play in the middle.

But here is the big problem, for the first 45 minutes, DC had a solid back line, even Zach Wells looked decent. But in teh last half it was like watch a pub league defensive line. Again, they looked confused and no one really stepped up to take charge. While Gonzalo Martinez played well individually, I really need him to step up and take control of the back line. Marks were missed, clearances weren't made and dumb mistakes abounded. The first Revs goal should never have happened, but its seems to encapsulate the DC back line this season--a routine ball in front of the goal is not cleared out and United pay the price. After that goal, the Defenders needed to wake up and they didn't. Like five minutes later, United gets burned again.

I won't blame Wells for the first goal, but I will on the second. Had he stayed on his line, he might have saved Dhube's header, but he did that "Wells thing" where it looks like he is coming off his line but then changes his mind. As a former goal keeper, my coach told me two things--1) don't give up rebounds, catch and hold the ball and 2)if you are coming off your line, committ to it. It is better to be beaten having commited yourself than to be beaten by being indecisive. Wells is, simply put, out of position too often. He was caught chasing the ball, if he had remained on his line, when Laurentowitz had headed the ball back in front of the goal, Wells could have easily picked it off before it got to Dhube. But because Wells started to chase the cross, he was sucked to the right side of his goal and Dhube had an easy header in.

Gallardo/Simms. The combination seems to work well when they focus on their jobs. I think the reason is that Simms knows that defensive midfeild slot so well that Gallardo doesn't have to think much about tracking back as often and can focus on doing what he does best, distributing the ball around.

Emilio--his seems to be getting his confidence back (perhaps the benching did the trick). He looked good tonight, but like I said, he needs to be finishing those opportunities he gets.

Wells--look, DC United needs help here. Wells simply is not cutting the mustard. I know he is young and I know he is inexperienced and really the only way to to get experience is to play, but at the level, Wells has cost the United a coupld of games and this is one of those. Wells needs to spend a lot more time looking a film of himself and seeing how out of position he is.

Tommy Soehn--I am not sure why he is so loyal to some players (see Wells above and Dyachenko who came on as a sub). I am not sure what needs to be done exactly, but I am just a supporter, Soehn should know and he seems to be tinkering a little too much. There are flashes of quality play around, but Soehn doesn't seem to have the team mentally sharp enough to play 90 minutes and win.

Road Form--It has been close to nine months since DC's last road win. It has a certain Fulham-esque quality to it. Yes, getting a point out of New England is usually a good thing, but not when you are two goals up and not when the two goals you conceded are such lousy quality.

Player Rankings
Martinez 5 (individual play a 6, but group play brings him down--it matters)
Mediate 5
McTavish 5
Namoff 7
Quaranta 6
Simms 8
Gallardo 7
Fred 7
Moreno 6
Emilio 6

Dyachenko 4
Burch 5

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