Thursday, September 13, 2007

Match Recap: DC United 2 - 1 Real Salt Lake

That is a result I will take.

Considering the fact that United was playing it's third match in seven days, considering that Jamie Moreno was away in Peru losing 2-0 with the Bolivian National Team, and considering the recent history between these two clubs; I wasn't expecting much from this match. Tired legs going against a club that has had United's number and have recently figured out how to score, it didn't look pretty.

Neither did the actual game, nor did the officiating.

DC United picked up all three points last night by being able to adapt to its situation, an ability that good teams have and call upon when they aren't able to bring out the skill. United did that last night. Playing their third game in seven days, fourth in a week and a half, United had to adapt to everything around them. The United team of last year, be it because of coaching decisions or something else, never really showed that at this point in the season, it could adapt well to its situations, and just ran out there with the same players and was losing. This side is a little different in that area.

Emilligoal is still dropping goals like they are going out of style. 19 goals for the season definitely shows that reaching the United record of 23 set by Raul Diaz Arce is no longer just probable, but more likely going to get busted. He keeps this pace up and the Golden Boot might have to be renamed the "Emilliboot."

Gomez came to life last night scoring the game winner and setting up Emillio's goal in the first half. His PK goal wasn't exactly something for the highlight reels, unless those are showcasing Nick Rimondo's skills. I honestly think that Emillio should have taken the PK, as it would have given him a clear chance for 6 in three matches, #20 for the season and Emillio is someone who Nick is not as familiar with. You have got to believe that Nick has a better understanding of which way Gomez takes PK's more than Emillio does, as they were teammates for a few years. That is the same reason why I thought it was wrong for Esky to take RSL's PK. How many times had Troy faced Esky in training when practicing PK's?

Due to Moreno's absence, there was a definite lack of "presence" in the United formation. I am not really 100% sure what to call what Moreno brings to the side, be it form or composure or vision; but whatever it is, it was abundantly clear that United didn't have much of any of those skills last night. In all reality, United played the first half much like they did right after the 3-3 draw with Dallas. The main thing is that the team has figured out how to adapt to not having Moreno on the field to hold the ball or provide a pass or such. Because of this, United is winning bad matches.

On a different note, last night's match was a second straight match were I saw the officials run a match one sided. I didn't want to comment on the way that Okulaja officiated Sunday's match against the Revolution, namely because we were able to still light up the Revs defense. However, last night's match was damn near criminal. I can't believe how may times I saw Benny get hacked, or clipped or such. He caught an elbow to the eye and Gonzalez never even stopped play until it looked like Benny wouldn't get up. Benny goes up for a header near the RSL goal, and he gets a Yellow card for a 50/50 ball. What the hell did Gonzalez see as McTavish was thrown to the ground like a WWE move, to warrant the RSL PK? There were also several horrible offside's calls, where I could see guys being held onside from my seat in the 234 section, but the linesmen missed on the field. If there is one thing that either MLS or the USSF do during the off season, it should be to get better and proper training for their officials. Ok, I am done with that topic.

So now United are off for 11 days and return with an away match in Chicago to deal with. Ben Olsen, Christian Gomez and Fred are all going to be out due to "MLS Sponsored Holiday's" for their Yellow cards from last night. Baring any injury while in Peru, Moreno should be back with the club, which along with the return of Josh Gros to the line-up, leaves Tom Soehn less short handed than it would appear. Right after the Chicago match, United return to RFK for the first leg of their match up with CD Chivas de Guadalajara in the Copa Nissan Sudamericana. Considering that guys like Gomez, Olsen and Fred will have had two weeks off from match play, I have got to like our chances in that match.

So we have qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs and are now seven points ahead of New England in the East (with 1 more match played than NE), seven points ahead of Houston for the Supporters Shield (equal number of matches played) and nine points ahead of Chivas USA (with three more matches played, so could be even). As United takes some time off, the Supporters Shield and playoff race should start to get even clearer.

Other thoughts on last nights match here, here, here and here.

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