Photo By: Martin Fernandez from UnitedMania.com
Tonite is the big night ladies and gentlemen… And those who read my blog :)
DC United plays tonight against Chivas of Guadelajara IN Guadelajara. DC tied Chivas 1-1 on a last minute goal by Emelio in RFK about two weeks ago. Now the 2nd leg is tonight at 9:30pm on Fox Soccer Channel (ch 242 for Cox Digital Cable).
Do we have a chance?
one in a million.
So your saying theres a CHANCE????
Yes, indeed we have a chance. But before we get too excited, lets remember a few key points.
#1. Chivas is a better team. Top to bottom, their players are better. Better tactically, better technically, and (at least at this point in time) better physically.
#2. Chivas has a SIGNIFICANT home field advantage. I don’t know how big their stadium is, but I’d guess it probably fits about 60-70thousand screaming Chivas fans. Contrast that with the atmosphere at RFK in which of the 26k present, maybe only a third of which were actually rooting for DC United. In addition, they are going to be playing above sea-level… waaaaaay above sea-level at 5200ft. Not quite mile-high, but high nonetheless. Also, DC United is something like 0-7 in Mexico
Now why do I, personally, have hope?
#1. We are the underdogs. No one expects us to win, the pressure is all on Chivas
#2. We are not retarded. By that I mean, if you give us a chance… we’ll hurt you. Lose concentration for a moment, we’ll hurt you. We’ve got guys in Moreno, Gomez and Emelio who can create and finish chances from thin air. Plus guys like Olsen who just bleed Black&Red will fight all the way to the end.
#3. Set pieces. The ultimate equalizer. I actually think we are *better* than Chivas in this category. We’ve got Boswell, Erpen, Gros and Emelio as real threats in the air. Watch out for freekicks near the box, and corner kicks.
#4. We are better than 2 weeks ago. When we played them 2 weeks ago we were still not in good game shape and still finding our way with new coach Tommy Soehn. Here we are with 2 weeks more of fitness work and learning with our teammates. The addition of Fred into the lineup (Goff thinks hes starting) changes us completely. We had a lot of passes that *almost* made it, and I expect to connect on more of those.
No doubt it is a tough match, and the logical side of my head expects us to lose, especially when I remember the 5-0 drubbing we received from Pumas 2 years ago. But then I think about how much better of a team we are now, and the weapons we’ve got that we didn’t have then and I start to get all goosebumpy.
Here’s what some others are talking about:
DC Seeking Prestige in Historic Match Against Chivas (unitedmania.com)
Match Briefing for 12.A.04: At Guadalajara (the DCenters)
D.C. Has Daunting Task in Mexico (washingtonpost.com Steven Goff pre-game article)
Although Fred has yet to play for United, he is likely to jump into the starting lineup tonight.
Steven Goff’s Soccer Insider (washingtopost.com)
What unfolds tonight at Estadio Jalisco?
I’m going with 2-1, Chivas.
I also have a sneaking suspicion that, one way or another, Simms ends up in the starting lineup. Meaning he’ll either be paired with Olsen in defensive midfield and Carroll sits, or Olsen stays out wide, Simms and Carroll are together and Fred is saved for the second half. Just a hunch…
If Olsen starts on the wing… we are in trouble. If Simms starts on the wing… we are in trouble. So if Simms plays, I hope its in the center instead of Carroll.
DCU has relented: Fred’s uniform will say “Fred”.
About time. This should never have even been an issue.
Which means the 18-man roster for Tuesday’s match is:
GKs: Perkins, Nolly
Ds: Namoff, Erpen, Boswell, McTavish, Wilson
MFs: Fred, Olsen, B. Carroll, Gomez, Gros, Simms, Moose, deRoux
Fs: Moreno, Emilio, Walker
My take on this is we see this lineup:
Defense is same as last time. The question is when we sit back and absorb pressure (i’m sure it will happen) does Gros slide back into D or do one of Carroll/Olsen. If Gros is expected to fall back then maybe he goes to the right side so Erpen can slide centrally which makes more sense than him sliding all the way to the right wing if Gros drops into D on the other side. If Erpen plays too wide, I fully expect a Chivas winger to fully take him to the cleaners.
Another question mark is whether Simms or Carroll starts at Defensive Midfield. Carroll has been pretty much a lock since he first took over, but I can see Simms who is more athletic and physical getting the nod. Note that Carroll has been subbed out in most of the matches this year and maybe the writing is on the wall.
To win this game, we’ve got to defend en masse, and really get numbers behind the ball. I expect Chivas to throw some bodies forward into attack so Moreno and Emelio should see some 1v1 opportunities. We MUST capitalize on these chances. Moreno and Gomez have to pay particular attention not to get sucked in too deep defending so they can lead a breakout and fastbreak. This is the key. If Moreno and/or Gomez receive the ball deep in their own end they don’t have the pace to carry the ball out before the amped up Chivas defenders get to them. They’ve got to start out near midfield in order to have any effect on the game.
If we can get a goal early we will really put chivas in a bad way.