Monday, August 28, 2006

Down the stretch: DC United’s final 8 League Matches

As DC United try to recover from the worst loss of the season, a 5-2 humiliation to the LA Galaxy, the focus of the club needs to be put on the final 8 matches of the season and the USOC. Here is a quick breakdown off our schedule –

9/03 - @ Chivas USA
9/06 - @ Chicago Fire (USOC)
9/09 - vs. Real Salt Lake
9/13 - @ New England Revolution
9/17 - @ Chicago Fire
9/23 - vs. Red Bull New York
9/27 - USOC Finals???
9/30 - @ Houston Dynamo
10/7 - vs. New England Revolution
10/15 - vs. Chicago Fire

DC United also has a friendly this Wednesday night at the Richmond Kickers. Honestly, with the exception of Rimando and the new guy Donnet, if DC United wanted to have members of Barra and the Screaming Eagles out in DC United jersey’s taking the field, I would be fine with that. That match in all honesty should be canceled.

So we look at the schedule and we have 5 road matches, and 4 home matches. The Chivas USA match I think is the primary concern. We need to get points from that match. Effective defending, light years ahead of the crap we saw on display Saturday night, will be the base for a victory over the Goats. Spearheaded by Ante Razov, the Chivas attack love to run right at the goal and take shots. The defense will actually be in for a similar amount of pressure that the Galaxy gave us, so if anything good came from the obliteration on Saturday night, the defense were given a preview of how the Goats offense should play.

The next match is the USOC Semi-Finals at Toyota Park against the Chicago Fire. As we did against RBNY, I would like to see Nowak start a group of reserves in most of the starting 11. Dyachenko, Donnet, Rimando, Walker, Stokes, Simms and Nickell. Those guys along with Erpen, Boswell, Prideaux and Caroll. Then have the same formula as we did against RBNY. Insert Ben and Jaime or Esky in around the 60 minute mark, maybe give Fred about 15 minutes of work. Keep as many starters off the field as possible. I want us to be able to win the USOC as United should be fighting for everything they are still alive for. That said, if we go out to the Fire in the Semi-Finals, that would be a lot more respectable than getting tossed by FC Toros in the 4th round by PK’s as we did last season.

After those two matches we have 2 remaining matches against Western Conference foes. As the next three matches after the USOC match are within 9 days of each other, resting guys for the matches will be paramount in the scheme of things. Maybe Gomez gets a full 90 minutes of rest for the RSL match? Or Jaime sits out of the New England match, to give him time to rest up for the away match at Toyota Park. Freddy is 17 years old. Aside from his knee bruise, that kid should never get tired and have the recovery time of half the other guys. If Freddy doesn’t go the whole 90 minutes against RSL and the Fire, than his conditioning isn’t what it should be.

With the last two matches being at home, if the situation is right, I would like for Peter to employ the same strategy as he did against RBNY in the USOC Quarter Finals. If we have the 1st seed and the Supporters Shield wrapped up with two matches to be played, starting reserves in these two matches and just giving Jaime, Ben, Gomez, Freddy and Alecko 20 ~ 30 minutes each match should be enough to keep them match fit and to give the reserves good match time. That should provide a good enough refresh period for the playoffs.

Proper personnel management is something that DC United will need to be most concerned with at the end of this season. The addition of Donnet should provide Peter Nowak several different options for how to cycle through the midfield and forwards to allow them the proper amount of rest, yet still get the right amount of playing time for guys and ensure that we still collect as many points as we need to ensure that we attain all of our goals this season (Supporters Shield, USOC and MLS Cup).


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