An uninspiring win to say the least. I'll hold back on loosing with both bores until De Rosario gets back on the field. Indeed, rather than delving into minutiae, let's just have a look at the biggest point I took away from the match, shall we?
Full credit to Pajoy. Despite the obvious handicap of his ridiculous hair, he did manage the only goal of the game.
The Jak is Back? (image courtesy mlssoccer.com)
So the opposition was solid defensively but not up to much on the attack. So Montreal were
missing some of their key cogs to injury and suspension. So the first half wasn't United's finest
effort. At the end of the night, United still ran out 3 0 winners, posted an emphatic response to
last week's disappointing loss, and seized sole possession of first place in the East as their
rivals for the top spot stumbled elsewhere.
Apologies for the lack of posting of late. We have a new addition to Clan Fullback, and the baby is
taking priority over blogging. Still, I was able to catch much of last night's loss to the Red
Bulls and have a few thoughts which my sleep-deprived brain will struggle to transmit to my
- Maicon-nective Tissue - I can't see how Salihi continues to start ahead of
Don't think you were alone if you went into the half shaking your head and wondering how United
were 2 0 up. Some combination of luck, Boskovic free kicks, and Hamid's reflexes opened a margin
that didn't seem so pronounced on the field, particularly after the Guy injury forced Heaps to move
Feilhaber inside where he belongs.
A measured outing from a makeshift lineup and a deserved victory. If not for an excellent
performance from Pickens in the Colorado net, it would have been an even uglier scoreline for the
Rapids, and that has to be encouraging. But you can't ignore that Colorado were severely banged up
as well, lacked the rhythm that comes with games in quick succession, and still made things
uncomfortable at times for United.
There was a moment just the one, mind you where I thought this one might go south. And it was
this: a clear handball on the line to deny United a goal. Should have been a penalty. Should have
been a red card. Given just how fragile TFC must be after their terrible start to 2012, that would
have been a death warrant for them.
Well, we can finally retire the "no back-to-back wins since the turn of the decade" refrain.
This won't be a long or detailed reaction as I tuned in just in time to see Santos head home his
first and missed chunks of the game due to family commitments (would it be callous to call them
Well, that was satisfying. Let's get right to the talking points, shall we?
Four goals is nice, but more impressive for me is the defensive performance. Henry and Cooper
came into this game averaging more than a goal a game each! They got very few good looks tonight,
and most of those from distance.
Let's begin with this: United got lucky. Sure, sure, they probably shaded the quantity of
chances overall and were easily the better team in the second half, but Montreal had better looks.
Slightly more accuracy in their finishing, and Benny's got more cause to question his rotation
policy than he'll already be doing tonight.
That was the story of this match, as it so often is in MLS where teams are more evenly matched
than is often the case in other leagues. With Joseph missing through suspension and the Revs'
string-puller-in-chief Feilhaber not fit enough to start, I had high expectations. And the early
going seemed to bear me out.
That was the headline that might have been. It was almost perfectly set up. Two
Sounders had gone down previously with boots to their nether regions. On comes Marc Burch, fresh
from slagging off United in the media, only for Sigi to give him just two and a half minutes to
prove what he couldn't in a handful of years with DC.
An excellent result, though you'd have been forgiven if you thought this one was going to turn
sour after the break. Let's be brutally honest. FC Dallas probably should have been up a goal or
two in the first fifteen minutes. United looked slow to wake up to the game, a bit disorganized,
and were finding little joy in possession.
A point on the board, a clean sheet, on the road, and probably the better team by a slight
margin. All without two starters. Considering the struggles of the MLS Eastern Conference versus
their Western Conference counterparts, that's not a bad return.
Those less charitable might point out that Vancouver isn't really all that great and will
struggle to be involved in the playoff picture.
Sure, the Galaxy are the class of the league and the defending champs, and yes, they were
playing on their own patch. Sure, the craptastic state of the pitch and the wind didn't help
matters. But for large patches of this match, United looked like they barely new each other's
names, much less belonged in the same division as the Galaxy.
Well, that went about as expected. Sporting KC are one of the strongest, if not the strongest,
team in the Eastern Conference, and return almost their entire starting lineup from last year.
Little wonder that they looked more fluid on the ball and in their movement than a United side that
is still figuring itself out and integrating new pieces.
Apologies if this is a bit scattershot, but the web feed was pretty rough (though much appreciated)
and I'm enjoying some Cabernet Franc with my footie tonight...
* * *
Chicago controlled much of the possession and had more and better chances, but Hamdi Salihi did
what he's been paid the DP cash to do.
Can't fault the second half effort1. Can't fault the entertainment value. Can't argue we didn't
deserve to crash out either. Heroic last-ditch efforts aside, it was over the last four games that
the ghost was well and truly given up, not this one match that sealed the deal.
As the game wound to a close, I was toying with an opening line for a reaction post, something
along the lines of: "These two teams could play for 90 days instead of 90 minutes and never find
the damn net."
So imagine my surprise when a late whistle finally answered a United attacker flinging himself to
the ground in the box.
You want me to recant? To say that Wednesday's Reaction Post was a mistake?
I suppose if I were going to be really cynical, I'd point out that our first team could
absolutely dominate the MLS Reserve League. I'm not going to go there. I'm going to
give United credit for finishing chances, for learning their lessons from last time around, and for
generally answering the challenge Olsen laid down.
I give up. Honestly.
How can you love a team, desperate for points in the playoff race, that takes a 2-0 lead at home to
one of the worst teams in the league and conspires through a combination of catastrophic defending,
a complete inability to retain possession, and, most damningly, sheer gutlessness in the face of
adversity, to throw away two points?
Guess what? United are a middle of the road club. They slot in somewhere between the also-rans
like Chivas and the league elites like Seattle. Hard to find these last couple of results shocking
when you put things in that perspective, is it? Nor was it surprising to see United struggle
offensively in their first game without their second most influential attacking player1.
I sat down at the keyboard last night and stared at the screen. Nothing. I just couldn't get
jazzed to write a reaction piece. Some of that was because I could copy and paste many of my prior
talking points. Some was because the match was pretty dull.
But the main reason was because the result was so infuriatingly predictable.
Astonishing. I'm not really sure what to think, what sort of coherent narrative I can assemble
to summarize the absolute incompetence that defined this match. It was like Christmas in August:
both teams (or all three if I include the officials) dishing the gifts left and right. Should I be
pleased with a point having played a man down for over 90 minutes (stoppage time included) or
disappointed at not beating a side we need to be beating?
(Your pardon is requested, señores y señoras; I've been sampling the vino tinto
while half-watching the Vinotinto in Copa America as I compose this. Subsequent grammatical
and logical failings will inevitably occur. You have been warned...)
And that, my fine feathered friends, is why we can't have nice things.
Someday, when he finds himself in the right tactical situation with the right pieces arrayed
around him, when he regains his confidence and stops pushing so hard to prove himself, I have few
doubts that Dax McCarty will show himself to be a quality player.
But for those of us who have suffered through his tepid, possession-wasting performances for
United this year, it was a comfort to see him lining up to take set pieces or leading the break in
transition for the Red Bulls.
Midweek swaps saw two new faces appear in Ben Olsen's starting eleven. Unfortunately, the DJ was
playing the same sorry tune when it came to the match itself. Good moments going forward, patchy
periods of possession, and, of course, the inevitable defensive comedy routines. You'd think we'd
have worn out that record by now.
If you can't decide whether to be thankful there was at least a point earned or whether you should
be screaming obscenities to the heavens, you're not alone. The answer, of course, is that you
should be doing both in equal measure.
Welcome to DC United 2011: Back to the Mean. Ugh.
Some quick thoughts before I settle in for the Gold Cup final.
Ah, youth. It has its pleasures and it has its pain.
Oh boy does it ever have its pain.
The young defense has had its teething troubles this season, and I was shocked that they managed
to shut out LA last week on the road. Looks like they just deferred the inevitable. Three rooks and
a USL guy arrayed ahead of a second-year keeper isn't anybody's recipe for consistency.
Five games unbeaten? Shutout with three rooks on the back line? Road point against the league
leaders and looking the more likely to win if anybody did?
Impressive. Even if the Galaxy were missing a couple of key offensive cogs. Some quick
* Josh Wolff has had four fantastic looks at net over the last couple of games.
This was pretty much a must win for the USMNT a decisive moment in the Klinsmann Epoch. Which made the starting midfield selection a bit...puzzling. Granted, Jones would start regardless of who's healthy, though he's also a potential time-bomb of petulance and rash action. But Zusi? In just his fourth cap and first competitive appearance?
A win, 1-0 over a second-tier CONCACAF side, and probably just about a deserved one, though by
no means hugely impressive. The US showed well in patches against Honduras, and a couple of
individuals can be proud of their performances, but collectively, the one word that consistently
appears in my notes, often double- or triple-underlined, is sloppy.
Granted, these early matches under the Klinsmann regime are all about assessing players and
introducing the new boss's style, so it's not yet time to go overboard with complaints about
players who don't belong, defensive disorganization, and lack of chances created. Sadly, my
suspicion is that we're going to have plenty of chances to file those complaints down the road.
Los Eternos Rivales, eh?
It certainly started to look like it after about 30 minutes when the Mexico we've come to know
and love started asserting is prickish best after looking in a different class for the first half
hour. It's been weird lately, watching Mexico play within themselves, so it came as something of a
relief when their true colors started bleeding through.
Rather than let this wait till morning, I thought I'd just float a single, rambling thought while
the game is fresh in the memory...
Great game. Great final. The better team won and the hex is lifted. Old Mexico would have gone down
2-0 and proceeded to self-destruct. New Mexico played their game and deserved to win because of it.
What an abominable game to watch. Though the US held the advantage for long stretches, Panama
probably looked a touch more dangerous when they did come forward. Both sides, however, largely
negated each other to make for some terribly dull viewing. The referee, not content to let 30
seconds pass without tooting on his whistle, only made things worse by killing any semblance of
So which was more shocking for you: Clint Dempsey's menagerie of missed sitters or Bob Bradley
finishing the game with Dempsey as his lone striker? It's not an idle question. My notes, even from
early in the first half, mention Dempsey looking heavy-legged and lacking his usual spark. I think
it was about a half hour in that I wondered why Bradley hadn't started the energetic Bedoya, saving
Dempsey, coming off a long club season, for emergency sub duty and the latter stages of the
There's the embarrassment of sending out a less-than-full-strength side and getting spanked at home
by the world champions. And then there's that oh-so familiar feeling to soccer fans the world over
of being the superior side, playing well, and yet being victimized by a ref or caught on the
C'est le jeu.
That wasn't exactly "comfortable", but the result was good and getting Altidore a little confidence
boost1 might prove huge in the longer term. Blowing the doors off an opponent in the opener might
be more sexy2, but there's something to be said for easing into a tournament and building up
momentum as you progress.
An embarrassing first half followed by a more competitive second with the introductions of Dempsey,
Cherundolo, and Bradley. A few very quick thoughts?
- Bradley is the first choice in central midfield, no question. His partner is open to debate. With
a healthy Holden available, I'd be leaning that way, but of those on offer, I'd probably opt for
Edu at the moment.