Friday, July 25, 2008

Game 12 - DC United 0:2 Houston Dynamo

I don't know if it is the summer doldrums, United's recent run of losses at home, the constantly evolving schedule, or some other influence, but I'm glad there is a week and a half break until the next game. The SuperLiga was a disaster. Injuries played a large part in it, true. But a team needs to be able to absorb two or three lineup changes without falling apart. Admittedly, I was not at the game on Wednesday due to the late schedule change (and let's be honest, in hindsight it was a blessing to miss it even on TV), but the drop off from Peralta to his replacement and Gallardo to his is jarring. I can remember complaining about this last season and lamenting that United were one injury away from oblivion. I can honestly say that unless Gallardo returns at full strength United will not make the playoffs. And the next game with both Gonzolos unavailable is not looking good. So much for all the good stuff that happened in June. DC United start over again in August. As Fred and Emilio would say, meu deus.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

DC United vs Houston Dynamo POSTPONED

Lack of power at the stadium has caused the game to be postponed until tomorrow night. Call your friends and let them know.

Friday, July 11, 2008

SuperLiga Group A - DC United vs CD Guadalajara

DC United continue their hiatus from league play with three games in eight days for the group stage of the tournament. DC United are in the same group as Atlante, Houston Dynamo, and CD Guadalajara. CDG are coming off of a subpar year in the Mexican League and look to salvage a trophy at the expense of their neighbors to the north. CD Guadalajara eliminated DC United from the Copa Sudamericana last fall on away goals.

Unfortunately I'll have to catch this one on TV as I have out of town guests visiting. Just glad it is on TV, unlike the US Open Cup games.

I'm assuming United will be at full strength, minus Olsen. Gallardo has had two weeks to rest up and Moreno seemed like he was fine with his post game comments. Also, I haven't heard anything about Fred who was limping around on Tuesday, so maybe everyone will be available. Hopefully United will go out and grab the three points.


United 1:0 CD Guadalajara

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

US Open Cup Quarterfinals - DC United 2:1 Chicago Fire

DC United has advanced to the semifinals of the US Open Cup after outlasting Chicago in extra time. The goals were scored by two unlikely players as Doe and Namoff tallied for United.

The win might have been costly as Moreno left the game after playing only about thirty minutes and Fred was visibly limping at the end. United will play New England in the semifinals next month at RFK.

No grades as I listened to the game on the radio.
Ben Olsen Has Another Surgery

If it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Ben Olsen has had another ankle surgery to try and reduce the pain he experienced when training with United in the week leading up to his fifteen minute appearance against LA. While not expected to "end his season", it is another setback for Olsen following his career year in 2007.
US Open Cup Quarterfinals - DC United vs Chicago Fire

DC United welcome longtime playoff nemesis, Chicago, to suburban Maryland for a Round of Eight game in the US Open Cup. The longer United stay in the tournament, the more important it becomes in relation to the rest of the season. United catches a break in that they haven't played a league game in nine days and several of the top players should be well rested. I expect Gallardo, Moreno, Emilio, Fred, Gonzales, and Namoff (my top six players) to all play at least sixty minutes. In fact, the starting lineup may well be the same one that finished the first half against LA, with Burch in for Quaranta.

United have never beaten Chicago in an elimination game. The rivalry extends back from the 1998 MLS Cup which Chicago won to the 2-1 comeback win for United in extra time while down a man in Chicago. The recent addition of Cuauhtemoc Blanco to the Fire has only enhanced the rivalry in that he is the object of much of the hatred/respect that DC United supporters throw Chicago's way.

I expect the starting eleven to be Emilio, Moreno, Gallardo, Fred, Simms, Burch, Namoff, Peralta, McTavish, Martinez, and Wells. Look for Kirk, Dyachenko, Carroll the Younger, and Doe to get time off the bench.


DC United 1:1 Chicago Fire
United advances on penalty kicks 5:4

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Oh, Fred, Who Art Thou?

The DCenters posted an excellent article on the value of Gallardo this season. While I agree with most of his reasoning (I am solidly in the Pro-Gallardo camp), I think the more interesting debate is concerning Fred. I thought Fred was dangerous in the game against LA on Sunday, DCUMD gave him bottom marks (rail behind the bar), Goff gave him a 6, BLCKDGRD disagreed with Goff's rating saying he is indecisive and making terrible passes, and D placed him in the Bad section and has vowed to call him F-r-e-* until he finishes something.

So, who is this Fred, and why all the disagreement?

Fred, a Brazilian, joined a DC United team last season that was primed for an MLS Cup run. He was starting by the end of the first month and has been a mainstay in the starting lineup since then. He has been relatively durable, appearing in twenty-six of thirty games last season and twelve of fifteen this season. He can play either side of the midfield and the center. He is left right footed and makes excellent cut back runs to the center which really put the defense on their heels. He is a deft dribbler in tight spaces and doesn't go down easily. Memories of his 2007 season are positive. He finished with seven goals and eight assists and DC United won the Supporter's Shield. So, he is associated with excellent play and winning results.

In 2008, Fred's statistics are down from last season's pace, but so are United as a whole. He has created numerous chances and this has resulted in a large portion of his criticism. Is it enough to generate chances for yourself and others if those chances don't result in goals? My guess is that the Pro-Fred crowd would say yes, it is enough to be dangerous and keep the defense on their toes. The Anti-Fred crowd would say no, finish something. Fred seems to be one of the most talented players on the team, so much is expected from him. If Fred goes a half, a game, a few games without tangible results, the scrutiny is ratcheted up. Then, each missed pass, each unpulled trigger in the box, each ball skied over the goal, is magnified, dissected, and regurgitated. If Fred was less talented or less likable, I think his poor play would be rationalized, much like Josh Gros was. Gros was a hard worker who was limited offensively. If Gros produced a total of six goals and assists for the year, or one a month, the masses would have been happy. Not so with Fred, who last season averaged 2.5 goals/assists a month and is now on a 1.3 goals/assists a month pace.

So which side are you on? Happy with Fred, or left needing more?
US Open Cup Round of 16 - DC United 2:0 Rochester Rhinos

I only caught the second half on the radio, and some of that was garbled due to technical issues, but DC United was able to pull out a victory while resting several starters. Gallardo, Peralta, and Moreno didn't play at all, and Emilio, Fred, Martinez, and Simms played a half. The game was tied 0-0 until two late, deflected free kicks by Marc Burch both found the net. The one I've seen on youtube didn't look all that great, but the other was better from what I've read. United moves on to play Chicago next Tuesday at the SoccerPlex. I'm going to try to make it out there for this one. And, if Tony Limarzi is to be believed (and I always believe him), Fred blew another wide open net at the beginning of the second half.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Halfway Point

After the win over LA, DC United has officially reached the halfway point in the regular season schedule. This is the traditional point in baseball to double your stats and see where you are. I figure, if it's good enough for baseball...

Projected 2008 Full Season Stats (2007) Difference

Emilio 20 (20) 0
Moreno 12 (7) +5
Gallardo 8 (N/A)
Quaranta 4 (N/A)
Simms 4 (0) +4
Fred 2 (7) -5
Martinez 2 (N/A)
Namoff 2 (0) +2
Peralta 2 (N/A)
Dyachenko 1 (1) 0
Burch 0 (1) -1
Olsen 0 (7) -7


Moreno 14 (6) +8
McTavish 8 (0) +8
Fred 6 (8) -2
Gallardo 6 (N/A)
Quaranta 6 (N/A)
Burch 4 (3) +1
Dyachanko 4 (0) +4
Emilio 4 (1) +3
Simms 4 (3) +1
Cordeiro 2 (N/A)
Martinez 2 (N/A)
Niell 1* (N/A)
Olsen 0 (7) -7

* No longer with team

United also would be at 44 points which would place them solidly in the playoffs. If they were to improve their second half record to 11-0-4 (W-D-L) they would net 33 points and would be at 55, exactly the pace for an average Supporter's Shield. So that's the target. Eleven wins and 33 more points.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Game 16 - DC United 4:1 Los Angeles Galaxy

DC United are back. This was evident in many ways, but let's concentrate on three.

1. The offensive creativity which has defined the United attack was varied and potent. The Galaxy defenders, not world beaters on their best day, were disorganized and caught out all afternoon. United were able to attack from the sidelines, up the middle, and on set pieces. United played beautiful long balls, deft short passes, and creative dribbling. It was beautiful to watch.

2. While still a work in progress, it is impossible to deny that the United defense has allowed a total of four goals in the last four games, all wins. Martinez, still the favorite for team MVP, has been excellent and steady, Peralta is working well in the center with McTavish, and Namoff continues to have his best season.

3. Ben Olsen. When he walked up to the fourth official and checked into the game, the roar was partly for him, partly surprise, and partly a cheer for the Tradition he represents. While he may not be the Olsen of last year, having him on the field is a great sign and I for one am thrilled he is able to play.


Forwards (Moreno and Emilio) A

Emilio played his best game of the year. He netted two and could have had two or three more. Moreno played a fine first half as almost a withdrawn forward. I really like him in that position and of course he scored on his chance from the spot. Excellent game from these two.

Midfielders (Gallaardo, Simms, Fred, and Quaranta) A-

Possibly the best game of the year from this group. Simms was steady. Fred was dangerous. Quaranta, while he was on, was very good running down long balls and making well struck crosses. But, Gallardo was the class of the group. From beginning to end, he was the best player on the field. Just a masterful game from him, and his goal could win goal of the week.

Defenders (Namoff, Martinez, McTavish, Peralta, and Wells) B+

The lone goal was not something to put on a training tape, but the rest of the game someone always stepped up to make the crucial play. All five made key saves on dangerous plays.

Substitutes (Burch, Olsen, and Dyachenko) A

Burch made an immediate impact with his cross to Emilio. He also had a massive strike on a free kick which struck the crossbar from around 25 yards away. Olsen was good at maintaining possession on the right side and Dyacheno nearly had a goal of his own on two occasions.