United Zero – Galaxy Nil (Best quote. “There must be fairies sprinkling injury dust out there”)
That has to be the worst, most uninspiring, unentertaining, unwatchable, unejoyable, unpalatable, un-anything I’ve seen DC United play this year, and has to be one of the worst if not the worst I’ve ever seen. OK, that may be because I’ve conveniently forgotten the lean years of Rongen and Hudson, but still, that was awful.
As I semi-predicted in my preview (see below) the backline opened with (from right to left) Clyde Simms, Facundo Erpen, Bobby Boswell, Brian Namoff. The midfield opened with Fred and Josh Gros on the wings and Ben Olsen playing defensive mid behind Christian Gomez. Jaime Moreno and Luciano Emelio opened up top. Surprisingly for me, Namoff looked a bit lost and confused. Actually, the whole line looked a bit unsure of what they were doing, as they had guys running free in the box for the first 10 mins. Fortunately for United Jacqua has a funny-shaped head and paddles for feet, because otherwise, they would have been down by several goals in the first 10 mins. Soehn quickly pulled the plug on the experiment, moved Namoff back to the right side, Gros shifted back to D, Olsen moved to left mid, Simms took his place behind Gomez, and all was right with the world.
I’m a bit upset that the position move didn’t work out, I was pretty sure this was going to solve a great many problems for us… but it didn’t. Its possible, that since Brian Carroll was out too, it was just too many people swapping positions all over the field. Maybe if we could have just contained the change to Simms and Namoff it would have been OK. With such a disastrous outcome tho, I have to wonder if Soehn will ever try again. Gros is clearly not a long-term solution at left back.
Collectively, United just moves the ball way too slowly. Every player takes two, three and four touches… every time. Switching fields is painfully slow as the pivot guy in the center takes a touch, pauses, turns, fakes, dribbles, looks, dribbles, then passes. By that time not only has the defense setup lawn chairs, but they’re ordering the second round of drinks from the waitress while waiting for the ball to get there. The few times United looked dangerous it was because the combo of Moreno, Gomez, Emelio, and Fred were playing with one and two touches in tight quarters. That was too few, and too far in between.
And considering we are quite possibly the shortest team in MLS, why can we not play the ball on the ground? So many times i see passes in the air, and that extra touch to settle the ball just compounds the problem.
The defense had major issues containing Jacqua in the first half, even after they settled down in their “normal” formation. fortunately, they somehow fixed it in the second half, and then LA coach Yallop did us a favor by moving Jacqua to right midfield later in the second half.
There were three guys who to me looked like they were gassed in the second half.
Simms, for one, looked like he about had it around the 70th minute. You can always tell when a guy gets tired because they don’t control the ball well. They start getting lead feet and can’t trap, their passes start getting intercepted, or they start turning the ball over. Simms did all of those consecutively over the course of about 5mins midway in the half. If this were early in the season (playing with 3 defenders) I’m sure we would have given up at least one goal. I can’t be too upset with him tho as he hasn’t played 90 first team mins in many weeks, possibly all the way back to the games against Olympia in the CCC. Moose was the only real sub option here. And otherwise, I felt he did a really good job.
Gomez looked beat around the 55th minute. Right after he had gone out to the wings a couple times and looked pretty dangerous as nobody seemed to follow him out there giving him the opportunity to whip in some crosses. One almost connected with (IIRC) Emelio on a snap header that went straight at the keeper. But after that, he had exactly zero influence on the game. Completely disappeared from the match up until the last few minutes where he helped to hold onto the ball a little bit.
And finally, Moreno was done by the 70th minute as well. Just like Simms, right around this time he started turning the ball over (more than usual), and he refused to let go of the ball. Several times he’d get the ball with people available to pass it to and instead he chooses to dribble and eventually lose it. But who does Soehn take out? You guessed it, not Moreno, but Emelio instead. I just don’t get it. What is the fascination with Moreno? He hasn’t scored a goal in the run of play (to be fair, no one really has) in forever and he’s just jogging around the field. I will grant you that at least he’s jogging around compared to last year when he was walking around, but the net result is the same. It is no coincidence in my mind that the best half of soccer DC has played this year came with Emelio and Kpene playing up front. The longer Soehn insists on keeping Moreno in, the longer we will struggle.
It seems like Emelio is about to break out of his scoring drought, but he just can’t quite get it. He hits the post again tonite for the second week in a row.
Fred continues to look good. He had two really good looks at goal this game, along with a couple last week. He seems to be figuring out his place, and like Emelio, just needs a goal to get that monkey off his back.
For the team’s sake, they should just forget about this game and move on. Hopefully they will be a little sharper against the very good NY Red Bulls next week. The Red Bulls have two really good finishers in Altidore and Angel, so they can’t give up opportunities like they did today to Jacqua. If they can get the first goal and force those Old Legs in the Red Bulls midfield to chase the game a bit, we have some hope.
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