Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Take: DC United 5 - 0 Harbour View FC

Sitting on the quiet side of RFK tonight, I really wasn't expecting too much. We were five days removed from a very poor performance in Jamaica, one the exposed our fitness levels all too well in the later minutes of the match, which allowed the in form club score and get back into the match up. Five days later, I really didn't see how a nicer field and a colder night would cause any type of drastic turn around.

Happily, I was wrong. I guess someone forgot to tell me that Tom Soehn found one of Superman's capes and decided to hand it over to Devon McTavish, who is currently leading the club in scoring. Leaving RFK, after watching a much better over all performance makes my mind a little more settled, but I still have some questions.

I liked to form of our defense, much more than I did last week. Peralta, Martinez, Burch and Namoff all looked much more comfortable and composed in front of Zach Wells. Burch didn't have the troubles with holding the ball too long and didn't get into any of the troubles that he had last week. assuming that the collective defense continue to improve with their overall collectiveness, we should have a much better defensive shape this year.

Clyde Simms had one helluva match, improving on his good performance from last week. Simms was very timely in his passes and his positioning, which allowed him to break up attacks and to cover for a lot of missed passes.

McTavish... what is there to say? He goes an entire season without a goal and now has three in two matches? His flank play, in my opinion, still needs some work as he missed several opportunities to make runs, a few that directly lead to turnovers, but over all, his work with Burch improved over last week.

Fred looks like he is still trying to break off the rust from the off season. He made a fine pass that released Emillio for the second goal and finished off the match with the final goal, but there were several situations in the first half where I felt he needed to look up and find a teammate more often and other times he needed to be more ruthless. He showed these signs last season, but snapped out of it, I hope he does so earlier this season.

Gallardo, I have to wait on him. I need to see more, because I really have a bad taste in my mouth with him right now. I guess it is because the guy wearing his jersey last year plays the game very differently and I was used to that. On the other side of that, I really haven't seen anything from him in two matches that makes me understand really why he is the DP. I watched him tonight and I really thought that Christian Gomez could have done better. Hopefully I am wrong and in a month's time I am singing his praises. Until then, I really don't know.

Emillio had a brace and several other chances tonight, but nothing really made me think he is ready for the season. Hopefully the next week allows him to work out the kinks and gives him the chance to turn it on against Kansas City. All in all, he did was he was brought in here to do, score goals.

Neill was a work horse up front, causing all types of trouble for the Harbour View defense. His work rate is without question, his left foot on the other hand, I question. He had several chances in both sides of halftime to take a shot on goal, each time it seemed that he took an extra second or touch to move the ball to his right foot and each time he missed the goal or completely launched one into the gravel pit behind the north goal. I like his speed and effort, but I want to see him get some use out of his left foot.

The man of the match, in my opinion, was Santino Quaranta. Yes, the very guy who tarnished his image by scoring on United two years ago, then ran over to Barra and grabbed his crotch as he smugly smiled, has come back to the good side. Tino was brought on right after Emillio made it 2-0 and immediately made an impact. He essentially setup the next three goals, being the spark that sent the United offense into high gear. I asked last week to see him used and I got my wish. Hopefully the guy just played himself into a larger role on the team.

A 6-1 aggregate score line is great and I will take it any day of the week. However, the two matches were closer than the score line shows. Harbour View could have easily shown up tonight with a 3-1 goal lead, which would have never allowed United to play the slow control game that they played in the first half. On the flip side of things, Harbour View, in my opinion, really abandoned ship right after the second Emillio goal, and never really put anything together offensively or defensively after that. So 6-1 is great, but this is only a foundation to build on for the Kansas City road match and the CONCACAF Champions Cup Semi-Finals.

This was a great introduction to the 2008 home season, hopefully we will see more matches like this one this year, rather than the one we saw last week on the TV.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

MLS All Stars vs. West Ham????


I thought the idea of the All Star games with guest clubs was to bring over a foreign club that has some type of star quality. Chelsea made sense, as did Celtic. Playing Chivas was a perfect match as Chivas USA was announced right around that match. Hell, playing Fulham made sense as Brian McBride was on the squad then.

So other than playing against Jonathan Spector, why would MLS/SUM be lining up West Ham for the All Star Game?

I have said it before and I will say it again, the All Star game needs to be retired. If MLS cannot convince one of the larger clubs that will be touring the US during the summer, then don't have the match. If MLS announced that Bayern Munich or Liverpool were scheduled, that would be a much better match than watching a mid-level club that has no real connection to MLS take on a less than All Star squad.

Please say that this is false.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Match Recap: DC United 1 - 1 Harbour View FC

DC United, after a major overhaul during the offseason, began their 2008 campaign with a very lackluster 1-1 draw away to Jamaican champions, Harbour View FC.

Starting four new players from last season's squad, United never really looked that great. The central defense looked respectable as did Namoff. Marc Burch, with the exception of his goal, never really settled down and failed to show the skills that he showed last season.*

The forwards, Emillio, Moreno (for the 20 or so minutes he was on the field), Neill never really got any service from the midfield. To be honest, had they received any service, they probably wouldn't have done any better than what they did when they got the ball. Emillio fell out of the match for 85 minutes, but when he took a shot, he never had anything on them.

It is very unlucky that Moreno went out with a hamstring injury so early into the match. As mentioned so many times last season, the entire United make up changes when Moreno enters or leaves a match. Without Jamie, everything had to go through Gallardo, which meant all Harbour View had to do was hack Gallardo and that would halt the offense.

Zack Wells looked very good tonight. His command and control of the goal box and the penalty box was very good and his control in the air looked strong. he was hung out to dry on the Harbour View goal, as whomever was assigned the back post, failed to show up for duty. That was one of a number of mental mistakes that I expect to not see repeated. Hopefully the mental misteps were more to do with the fitness levels than straight focus.

I have to hope that the overall performance tonight was more due to the lack of fitness than anything else. United were completely gassed by the 70th minute. We had no way of keeping up with the Harbour View players, which was the direct reason of how Harbour View was able to pressure and get the equalizer.

So I guess that the big question is how can United regain some strength in five days? Last season, United traveled to Honduras and looked very, very good in a 4-1 romp over CD Olimpia. United last year, looked like the club that was in midseason, rather than the club starting a campaign. Tonight, United looked worse than a club starting a campaign, they looked like a club who was two weeks in training.

Next week at RFK, I would really like to see guys like Quavas Kirk and Santino Quaranta with some time. I feel that if either one of them had been brought on around the 75th minute, we might have seen more spring in the teams step. Losing Jamie really put United on a back foot too early for this to happen though.

This was one game, so we have to wait and see. Last season started with a bang, and ended with a whimper... if we start with a snooze, do we finish with a trophy? We wait and see.

* EDIT - WTF was I typing last night????? McTavish scored the goal, not Burch. This makes me even less happy with Burch than I was last night. Damn, I shoulda had some coffee before i wrote last night.

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