Saturday, December 15, 2007
Turns out there was no there there. Veron isn't coming any time soon.
Here is my take: He wants to come but not until next summer. I am pretty sure I read that his team qualified for a tournament that will be played between now and June. I could see him reupping with his current team and then trying for a transfer. I see this as unlikely to work as United would have to pay a transfer fee. I honestly have no idea what United does now. It really looks like Moreno and Gomez are leaving. If they do, here is your DC United starting lineup:
Emilio, Kpene, Dyachenko, Olsen, Fred, Simms, Namoff, McTavish, Vanney, Burch, and Wells. The bench? Empty as far as I can tell.
Now repeat after me....
The front office knows what it is doing...The front office knows what it is doing...The front office knows what it is doing...The front office knows what it is doing...
Friday, December 14, 2007
I have to say, I'm a bit put out that Bobby Boswell has been traded. I think it's a clear loss if Perkins leaves, Boswell leaves and Zack Wells arrives. Maybe the transfer money will help sign Veron, but our suspect defense just got weaker. There is absolutely no depth now. All of the defenders are now starters. Namoff, Vanney, McTavish, and Burch are all fine independently, but I don't know if they add up to a cohesive backline. And with Gros doubtful for 2008, who on the roster could play if Namoff goes down for a few games? Or Vanney?
Now the whole Veron is coming! No he isn't! thing is getting old fast. If SI.com blew this it will look really bad for them. They even list Wednesday for the press conference. I am in favor of this signing. However, adding Veron and losing Gomez and maybe Moreno doesn't make DC United a better team. There has to be more. I anxiously await the completion of the 2007 offseason painting. I just hope it's a masterpiece. Right now it's finger paints by a preschooler.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Well, I got my wish. Brian Carroll was left unprotected and was selected in the Expansion Draft by San Jose. While I have appreciated Carroll's effort, his lack of skill became more and more apparent over the last two years. Maybe in a different system he will be a more productive player. So good luck out west, Brian. You won't be missed here, but you were a part of a very exciting era in DC United's history, including an MLS Cup and two Supporter's Shields. So, that says something at least.
Friday, November 09, 2007
With the San Jose Earthquakes reentering the league, there will be a dispersal draft. Each current MLS team will lose a player while being able to protect their top eleven. This got me thinking, who would I protect and why? So, here is my list of the eleven players I would protect, assuming all are under contract and are returning for next season. And I don't know what the rules are for developmental players, so I will assume they are available.
So who does that leave unprotected?
And a few other players you've never heard of who are on United's 40 man roster.
So the obvious question: How can DC leave Moreno unprotected? Honestly, I don't think San Jose would take him. Too injury prone, too old, too expensive. He is great for United and I hope he can play for a few more years. But, San Jose needs to be looking three to five years down the road and Jamie simply won't be playing that long. So who do I think San Jose would pick from this list? Rod Dyachenko. Who do I want them to pick? Brian Carroll. We'll see what happens.
I'll update the list as I learn more about the specifics of the rules.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Chicago Advances on 3:2 Aggregate
I'm angry. My anger exists on many levels. I will try to calmly and clearly explain who I am angry at and why. A few notes: I haven't seen any replays except for what was on the stadium screen. I don't know who was pulled for poor play and who was injured. Any incorrect assumptions I make I apologize for in advance.
First, I am angry at Tom Soehn. The major reason I am angry at the coach is that the tactics he employed in the first game of this series put DC United in a terrible position. There is no way around it, he played for the tie in Chicago. When he didn't get it, DC had to chase the win in the second leg. This played exactly into what the Fire wants to do, counter attack. It is what Chicago did tonight, and when you are chasing goals against a good countering team, you can get into trouble fast. And tonight DC was in trailing-by-three-goals trouble.
Second, I am angry at DC United's midfielders. Christian Gomez has not been playing as well as he did last season and with the addition of Fred and Olsen's good play the DC United attack has moved from the center of the field to the wings. Bring it up the sidelines and cross to the middle. This worked well for about three months, but starting at the end of September the crosses started missing their targets. It seemed that everything either didn't make it over the first defender or went way over the top. Tonight was no different. An unbelievable amount of crosses were well off target.
Third I am angry at Marc Burch, Greg Vanney, and Bobby Boswell. It is inexcusable to allow man after man to run free through the line of defenders. I'm all for playing high and trying to run the offside trap. However, I am more for preventing goals. Those three were horrendous tonight and have been off for most of the season. Perkins has been tremendous this year and was better than his GAA, but these three have been playing a matador defense for a few months now.
Fourth, I am mad at the referee. Consistently inconsistent, that's the MLS referee mantra. No yellows in the first half, nothing called on multiple hand balls in the box by Chicago (I'm not the only one who saw them, right?), constant time wasting all game long. However, the first big call he makes is a questionable call in the box after Gomez puts in the series tying goal? Where was this guy all night? If he had been making the tough calls all along, I would have respect for his season-altering call. I might not agree with it, but I would respect it. But he didn't call any of the other tough ones, and there were multitudes.
Finally I am mad at MLS. Get rid of the home and home series. If Chicago can't finish in the top two in the conference, they don't get a home game. Find better referees. Hire them from Europe if necessary. The ones you have aren't getting the job done. Maybe if Beckham says it, Greg Garber will finally do something about it.
Emilio (C) Not a great game, but again, he didn't get good service
Moreno (B-) A decent game, but not involved in anything that dangerous
Gomez (A-) Held on to the ball too long in the first 45. Amazing in the second 45.
Fred (B) Ran his rear off for 90 minutes.
Simms (B-) Terrible first half. Awesome goal.
Olsen (B-) Had his moments, but seemed more concerned with drawing fouls.
Vanney (D) Defense needs to be reworked this winter. I don't see him back.
Boswell (D+) Looked at fault on at least one of the goals.
Namoff (B) Again the best defender on the field.
Burch (D+) Looked like he was pulled for bad play, not tactics.
Perkins (A-) Did everything he could to keep United in it.
Dyachenko (A-) Assisted on both goals. Great game.
Addlery (C) Good effort, great positioning, awful finishing. Three whiffs?
McTavish (B) Pushed up well when United needed offense.
I am really upset about how the season ended. Three things need to be addressed in the offseason. The defense needs to be looked at and revamped, the bench needs bolstering, and a stadium needs to be finalized.
Have a great winter everyone. I'll post as DC United news seems appropriate.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Game 2 - DC United vs Chicago Fire
Thursday, November 1 at 7:30 PM
TV: ESPN2 HD
Radio: 1160 AM
DC United returns to Washington needing a win to advance to the Eastern Conference Championship. Since Chicago enters the game with a 1-0 advantage, United would force an overtime period with a one goal win, and they would win outright with a two goal win, regardless of the score. A final score of 2-0 is the same as 7-5. If the overtime period finishes with no additional goals scored, the teams resort to a shootout.
United should have everyone available except for Josh Gros who is out after wrist surgery. Both Emilio and Moreno are expected to start this do-or-die game. United looks to begin to correct it's dismal postseason record against Chicago, with no goals scored in six games. The starting lineup should include the normal regular season cast of characters. I think that Bobby Boswell will get the start over Greg Vanney. So the starting eleven should be Emilio, Moreno, Gomez, Fred, Olsen, Simms, McTavish, Burch, Boswell, Namoff, and Perkins. If United is looking for a goal, look for Kpene to replace a defender, if United is trying to maintain a two goal lead, look for Carroll (heaven help us) to replace a forward. I see United getting the early goal and then it is a long slow march to the finish to see if United can get the second goal before Chicago gets the equalizer/series winner. I see both teams too timid to get the second goal and things get really interesting in overtime and the shootout.
DC United 2:1 Chicago Fire
Series Tied 2-2
United advances on penalty kicks 4:3
Friday, October 26, 2007
So it's halftime in the first round, and United is training 1-0. That's how I choose to look at this. And I assume that is how Tom Soehn looked at it as well, right? Otherwise, how can you defend his choice to put out a completely new formation and essentially concede that United wouldn't score in the first 45 minutes. The total goals by the lone forward on the field this season? Zero. We'll get into the fact that Brian Carroll was in the lineup in a minute, but where was the offense going to come from in that lineup? The midfield has to be the answer. Where were the threats in the midfield? Two were on the wings crossing to the middle. Fred and Olsen were playing as if Emilio and Moreno were in the box to receive their crosses. Burch was crossing to the middle as well. Unfortunately the only person in the box to receive the passes was five foot seven inch Kpene. I don't care what he is listed at on the roster, he's no taller than that.
Now, Carroll. His offensive skill set is horrendous. How many times did he have the ball at his feet and his head down, surrounded by Fire defenders and midfielders? How many times was he given a good setup ball on the ground and he shanked the shot? How many times did he give the ball away with little pressure? If Carroll is on the field, we are going to lose. He even out-influenced Simms' extraordinary record when he starts. It was Simms' worst game of the year. And you can't say it was unrelated to playing next to Carroll. Here are the players I would have started over Carroll at holding midfielder: Moose, Dyachenko, Boswell, Addlery, Jeff Carroll, and Nolly. Okay, maybe not Nolly.
- Didn't give up the second, series jeopardizing goal
- Perkins looked good
- Gomez was excellent if you discount his dozen offsides calls
- ESPN's Coverage. They just can't figure out when to go to the closeup reaction camera. Here's a hint, not when a team is in the offensive third of the field.
- Vanney's attempts at clears on balls in the air
- Coaching strategy
Kpene (C) He really wasn't given much to work with
Fred (B+) Really picked it up in the second half. Very dangerous.
Gomez (A-) Best player on the field. Let's hope he can continue it. And no spitting.
Olsen (B) Uneven performance. Seemed a step slow.
Simms (C-) Blanco was held in check, but how much was United's doing? Shanked several shots.
Carroll (D-) I don't understand how he keeps getting on the field
Burch (B-) Good crosses, average defense
McTavish (C) The middle defenders were not solid. Good job compacting the field in the second half.
Vanney (D) Terrible. Boswell should replace him at RFK
Namoff (B+) Excellent at pushing forward in the second half.
Perkins (B+) Not at fault on the goal. Good coverage and distribution.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Game 1 - DC United at Chicago Fire
Thursday, October 25 at 8:30 PM
TV: ESPN2 HD
Radio: 1160 AM
DC United travels to Chicago to open the MLS playoffs with a prime time national TV game. There is a long and one sided playoff history between these two clubs. Chicago has dominated the playoff series, outscoring United 10-0 over five games. Most recently, Chicago eliminated DC from the playoffs with a 4-0 shellacking at RFK stadium in 2005. You may remember that as the game when Christian Gomez lost his head and some spit and was red carded. I got into a debate with a friend about who United should be wary of and Chicago topped his list of teams to avoid if possible. I look at it as a way to right past wrongs. Chicago stood in the way of United winning the first four MLS Cups. Chicago has eliminated United three different times in the playoffs. In fact, United has only been eliminated from the playoffs four times, the other was by New England last year. Chicago won the 1998 MLS Cup against DC, they knocked out United in 2003 on a 4-0 aggregate, and the above mentioned 4-0 embarrassment after a 0-0 tie at Chicago in 2005. So, depending on how you look at it, United has a score to settle or is doomed. Are you a half empty or half full person?
DC finished the regular season with a 16-7-7 (W-D-L) record and a league leading 55 points to retain the Supporter's Shield. Chicago finished 4th in the Eastern Conference with a 10-10-10 record and 40 points. DC and Chicago played three times this season. A win by United in DC, a tie in Chicago, and a tie in DC. The aggregate goals for the season series was United 4:2 Fire. DC's advantage is their dominance at home and ability to get results on the road. I would imagine the strategy will be to keep the score low in Chicago and win at home. For United a 0-0 tie or 1-0 win or loss will be fine considering the injuries and short week of preparation. Then rest up and lay the wood in the second leg. Of course, they will try to win in Chicago, but I would bet that the formation and personnel will be geared towards a controlled low scoring affair.
I expect the starting lineup to be Moreno, Emilio, Gomez, Fred, Olsen, Simms, McTavish, Burch, Vanney, Namoff, and Perkins. If United scores first, I expect to see Carroll and Boswell as the subs. If Chicago scores first, I expect to see Kpene and Dyachenko as the subs.
DC United 1:1 Chicago Fire
Monday, October 22, 2007
As I have been called out for being lazy and not posting the regular review of this game, here are my thoughts on what should have been a night to forget.
The fact that the starting eleven had nine of the normal starters in it, you have to believe that Coach Soehn was going for a result to keep the unbeaten streak alive. Personally, I would have started Kpene, Addlery, Dyachenko, both Carrolls, Moose, Boswell, McTavish, Burch, Namoff, and Nolly. If they play well, great. If not, since United was obviously not trying, no momentum lost. Momentum being a state of mind, you can't lose it if you are not trying to maintain it. Since that is obviously not what happened, now United must deal with the fall out. First, a short week with a Thursday night game to open the home and home with Chicago. Second, Emilio and Moreno are now recovering from injuries rather than training for the Fire. Third, the team is now depressed and on a four game winless streak. Momentum has shifted 180 degrees.
- Gomez and Fred were back on form and making nice runs at the defense
- Kpene played his best game since May
- Injuries, Short Week, Momentum
- Brian Carroll was his usual disjointed self
- Mediate was invisible
Forwards (Moreno and Emilio) C
Before getting injured, I can't recall anything memorable from these two. The only thing I remember is thinking how quick Jamie looked and how agressive he was tracking the ball. And then he stepped on a seam in the turf.
Midfielders (Fred, Gomez, Carroll, and Mediate) B-
As good as Fred and Gomez were, Carroll and Mediate were that bad.
Defenders (Namoff, Boswell, McTavish, Burch, and Perkins) C-
They never looked great, but they held the 1-0 deficit pretty well for most of the game. However, the third goal was a pathetic effort.
Substitutes (Kpene, Simms, and Olsen) B
You'd expect a good effort from two starters and the team's third best forward. Yet another game where Simms didn't start and United lost.
Playoff preview coming Wednesday.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Just a short preview this week for a game with no playoff implications for DC. United is still on a thirteen game unbeaten streak and hasn't lost at home since April. Keeping those two streaks alive would be nice heading into the postseason. It seems that the team is going to put out their top lineup at least to start the game. I would love to see some reserves get some time. Moose, Nolly, Kpene, and Addlery could all use some minutes. However, it looks like they would all be subs. So, the starting eleven should be Moreno, Emilio, Fred, Gomez, Olsen, Simms, Namoff, Burch, Vanney, McTavish, and Perkins. Carroll, Boswell, Kpene, Addlery, Moose, and Nolly are all possibilities as subs.
DC United 2:1 Columbus Crew
Thursday, October 18, 2007
DC Mayor Fenty has taken a shot across his bow with the announcement and article detailing Maryland's intention to try and lure DC United across the state line into Prince George's County. While DC United officials have yet to put the mayor over a barrel and tell him flat out "you are going to blow this and here is your deadline," they implication is clear. DC United is not going to wait forever. In a move similar to former mayor Sharron Pratt Kelly, Fenty has basically turned a deaf ear to United and appears to not be moving forward in any tangible way. The result with the Redskins was Jack Kent Cooke got tired of waiting and signed a deal with, you guessed it, Prince George's County to build his 90,000 seat stadium next to the Beltway. Hey, look at that map, College Park is right next to the Beltway, too. I could imagine a 25,000 seat stadium going up somewhere along Kenilworth Avenue, north of East West Highway. I used to live in that area and there is a gigantic park, Greenbelt Park, which extends from Kenilworth Avenue to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. You could imagine entrances/exits both to the BW Parkway and onto Kenilworth Avenue which is 8 lanes wide there, I believe. The College Park Metro Station is also a half mile from the south west corner of the park.
Not that I want the stadium to be in Maryland. However, it just shows that there are locations which make sense to DC United if DC continues to drag their feet. If the location is within walking distance of a Metro station, has access to nearby highways, and is able to be developed or will be subsidized by the local government, this could work. I would think DC has until the end of next year to make significant progress towards choosing a location DC United officials are happy with. And don't forget, Daniel Snyder is rumored to be very interested in moving the Redskins back to DC, possibly to the RFK site. You could imagine a scenario which goes like this:
1. Nationals Park opens, Fenty still upset about the fleecing of Washington, DC
2. DC continues to stonewall United
3. United looks at other options, continues to hope for movement from DC
4. Redskins announce their intention to scout out new locations for a state of the art, retractable roof stadium which will be Super Bowl capable and hold 100,000 fans
5. DC, unable to keep two thoughts in their head at a time, forgets all about DC United
Why would DC United wait around for that? Even though the mayor is a virtual lock to use opening day to pander to the fans and promise a stadium in the "near future", the promises now ring hollow.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Colorado Rapids defeated Chivas USA which left them three points behind DC United with one game to play. DC United holds the tie breaker with Chivas, so DC United have clinched the MLS Supporter's Shield. DC have become the only team in MLS history to finish with the top regular season record in consecutive years.
Congrats to DC United. Another trophy for the case.
So, they last game of the year is meaningless. Moreno can rest up after a long trip to South America, Fred can take it easy, Olsen and Vanney can rest their old legs, maybe give Perkins a night off. Give the kids a game, let the fans give a cheer, and we'll see everyone in the playoffs. And in case you didn't see it, DC's first home playoff game will be Thursday November 1.
Thanks to thier scoreless tie with Chicago, DC United has clinched home field advantage for the duration of the playoffs. The Supporter's Shield is still pending. If Chivas USA loses their game today, United retains the Supporter's Shield regardless of the results of the final game.
Friday, October 12, 2007
DC United, 16-6-6, welcomes Chicago to RFK stadium for a game full of playoff implications. United needs one point to clinch the Eastern Conference #1 seed and four points to clinch the Supporter's Shield. United can clinch both with a United win and a Chivas loss or tie or a United tie and a Chivas loss. United are on an twelve game MLS regular season unbeaten streak (9-3-0, W-D-L) United's last loss was at NYRB on July 22, 1-0. United's last home loss was on April 14 to KC, 4-2. DC have a win and a tie against Chicago this season and have outscored them 4-2. United's home record is 10-2-1 and they have a +16 goal differential. DC are currently in 1st place in the Eastern Conference, five points clear of New England. DC United also leads the Supporter's Shield race, two points clear of third place Chivas USA.
Chicago Fire, 9-9-10, are fighting for one of the last playoff spots. If the playoffs began today, Chicago would be the fourth wild card team and would be shifted to the Western Conference. Chicago is unbeaten in their last six league matches, but they have only won two of those games with four ties. Chicago is not a good road team. The Fire are 4-3-7 away from home -6 goal differential. Chicago is in 5th place in the Eastern Conference, eighteen points behind DC United. They are also in eighth place in the Supporter's Shield race.
United got the tie they needed last week in Kansas City to keep on pace for the Supporter's Shield. With Chivas USA's tie in Dallas on Thursday, United is now firmly in the driver's seat.
So what to look for this Saturday:
- One point clinches home field throughout the playoffs
- Moreno is out on Bolivian National Team Vacation
- Fred will be back in the lineup
- Starting 11: Emilio, Gomez, Fred, Olsen, Carroll, Simms, Namoff, Vanney, McTavish, Burch, and Perkins.
- Boswell on Yellow Card Vacation
- A win and a loss or a tie from Chivas USA = Supporter's Shield
- A tie and a loss from Chivas USA = Supporter's Shield
DC United 3:1 Chicago Fire
Chivas USA 1:0 Colorado Rapids
New England Revolution 1:1 Columbus Crew
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Two Weeks To Go
Playoff positions are beginning to solidify across MLS. So with each team having two or three games remaining, let's take a look at the final few games and where each team could and will end up.
DC United - 54 Points
- Can finish as the number one or two seed in the East
- Clinches East #1 with one point
- Clinches Supporter's Shield with six points
- Can win the Supporter's Shield
- Remaining games - CHI and CLB
- Predicted finish - 58 Points - East #1 - Supporter's Shield
New England - 49 Points
- Can finish as the number one or two seed in the East
- Clinches East #1 with six points and zero points for DC United
- Can win Supporter's Shield
- Needs all six points, no more than three from Chivas USA, and none from DC United
- Remaining games - CLB and @TFC
- Predicted finish - 55 Points - East #2
New York Red Bulls - 39 Points
- Can finish as the number three or four seed in the East or the four seed in the West
- Clinches #3 seed with four points
- Cannot win Supporter's Shield
- Remaining Games - KC and @LA Galaxy
- Predicted finish - 40 points - East #3
Kansas City Wizards - 37 Points
- Can finish as the number three or four seed in the East or the four seed in the West
- Clinches #3 seed with six points and no more than three from New York
- Cannot win Supporter's Shield
- Remaining Games - @NYRB and @DAL
- Predicted finish - 38 Points - East #4
Chicago Fire - 36 Points
- Can finish as the number three or four seed in the East or the four seed in the West
- Clinches #3 seed with six points, no more than two from NYRB, and no more than four from KC
- Cannot win Supporter's Shield
- Remaining Games - @DC and LA
- Predicted finish - 36 Points - Not in Playoffs
Columbus Crew - 31 Points
- Can finish as the number four seed in the West
- Clinches #4 seed in West with six points, no more than four from Colorado, and zero from Chicago
- Cannot win Supporter's Shield
- Remaining Games - @NE and @DC
- Predicted finish - 31 Points - Not in playoffs
Toronto FC - 24 Points
- Eliminated from Playoffs
- Remaining Games - @LA and @NE
- Predicted finish - 24 Points - Not in Playoffs
EDIT - Chivas USA - 52 Points
- Can finish as the number one or two seed in the West
- Clinches #1 seed with three points
- Can win Supporter's Shield
- Clinches Supporter's Shield with six points and no more than three from DC United
- Remaining Games - COL, and HOU
- Predicted finish - 56 Points - West #1
Houston Dynamo - 48 Points
- Can finish as the number one, two, or three seed in the West
- Clinches #1 seed with six points and no more than two from Chivas USA
- Cannot win Supporter's Shield
- Remaining Games - @RSL and @Chivas
- Predicted finish - 52 Points - West #2
EDIT - FC Dallas - 44 Points
- Clinched #3 seed in West
- Cannot win Supporter's Shield
- Remaining Game - KC
- Predicted finish - 47 Points - West #3
Colorado Rapids - 32 Points
- Can finish as the number four seed in the West or the number four seed in the East
- Clinches #4 seed with six points and no more than one point from Chicago
- Cannot win Supporter's Shield
- Remaining Games - @Chivas and RSL
- Predicted Finish - 33 Points - Not in playoffs
LA Galaxy - 30 Points
- Can finish as the number four seed in the West or the number four seed in the East
- Clinches #4 seed in West with nine points and no more than two from Chicago
- Cannot win Supporter's Shield
- Remaining Games - TFC, NYRB, and @CHI
- Predicted finish - 39 Points - West #4
Real Salt Lake - 24 Points
- Eliminated from playoffs
- Remaining games - HOU and @COL
- Predicted finish - 25 Points - Not in Playoffs
So if all this happened, here is what the matchups would be:
Chivas USA vs LA Galaxy
Houston vs FC Dallas
DC United vs Kansas City
New England vs New York
Monday, October 08, 2007
Well, United did just enough to squeak out a tie which maintains their margin over Chivas USA where DC is in control of their own destiny. If United gets all six points from their last two games, they retain the Supporter's Shield. (Tie goes to United.) However, United should have won in KC. Even with Fred unavailable and Moreno starting on the bench, there is no way KC should have kept United off the board in the first half.
- Gomez does it himself to get the point.
- Perkins plays a great game on the road
- New England falls five points behind
- Sure looks like an injury to Olsen, Moreno, Gomez, Fred, Emilio, or Perkins and the MLS Cup run is in serious jeopardy. Serious depth issues.
- Chivas pulls the full three points
Forwards (Gomez and Emilio) B
Midfielders (Simms, Carroll, Olsen, and McTavish) B-
Defense (Boswell, Vanney, Burch, Namoff, and Perkins) B
Substitutes (Mediate, Dyachenko, and Moreno) C
Friday, October 05, 2007
DC United travels to Kansas City for a rare (perhaps unprecedented?) Friday night matchup against the Wizards. United could all but clinch the Eastern Conference #1 seed with a win and force Chivas USA to be perfect to have any chance of catching them for the Supporter's Shield. United are on an eleven game MLS regular season unbeaten streak (9-2-0, W-D-L) United's last loss was also their last road loss, losing to NYRB on July 22, 1-0. Kansas City has had success against United this season, dealing them their only home loss, 4-2, in April and losing to United 1-0 in KC. United's road record is 6-3-5 and they have a +7 goal differential. DC are currently in 1st place in the Eastern Conference, four points clear of New England. DC United also leads the Supporter's Shield race, five points clear of third place Chivas USA who hold a game in hand.
Kansas City Wizards are currently clinging to one of the last playoff spots. If the playoffs began today, DC would be traveling to Kansas City to begin a home and home. So this game is significant for a few reasons: Kansas City needs the points, United wants the Supporter's Shield, and both teams want to make a statement for the potential playoff games in a few weeks. Kansas City are an average home team with a 7-2-5 (W-D-L) record and a +4 goal differential. The Wizards are coming off of consecutive one goal losses to the Los Angeles twosome, Chivas USA and LA Galaxy. Kansas City is in 4th place in the Eastern Conference, seventeen points behind DC United. They are also in seventh place in the Supporter's Shield race.
United continue to do what is necessary to win the Supporter's Shield. A tie on the road and wins at home get it done. This weekend Chivas travels to Real Salt Lake for an almost assured three points Chicago and New England travels to Chicago. Fred didn't travel with the team and Moreno is nursing a sore ankle, so I expect United's starting eleven to be Emilio, Dyachenko, Gros, Gomez, Olsen, Simms, Burch, Vanney, McTavish, Namoff, and Perkins. I also expect the top subs to be Kpene, Carroll, and Boswell. Kansas City have two starters, Arnaud and Conrad on Red Card Vacation, so what I previously had marked down as a tie should be a win.
DC United 2:1 Kansas City Wizards
Chivas USA 3:0 Real Salt Lake
New England Revolution 1:1 Chicago Fire
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
CD Guadalajara Advances on Away Goals
Two comments and two comments only:
Three United players had a chance to clear the ball that ended up as the lone goal. When you play a defensive game, you better play great defense.
I really wish Fred and Burch had played. I hate that United lost at less than full strength.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Since I was traveling, I have yet to see DC's win. So no grades this week. However, the win combined with the other results in MLS this weekend have altered the landscape in the Eastern Conference and Supporter's Shield races. Chivas USA tied Chicago and New England beat Colorado. So here is where things stand going into this week's schedule:
DC United - 53 Points, 3 Games (2 H, 1 A) Max Points - 62 (@KC, CHI, CLB)
Chivas USA - 48 Points, 4 Games (2H, 2A) Max Points - 60 (@RSL, @DAL, COL, HOU)
New England - 49 Points, 3 Games (1H, 2A) Max Points - 58 (@CHI, CLB, @TFC)
United now needs seven points in their remaining three games to clinch Supporter's Shield. And DC only needs five points for the Eastern Conference title.
Predicted Finish (as of 10/1)
DC United - 60
Chivas USA - 56
New England - 56
Friday, September 28, 2007
DC United welcomes Toronto FC to RFK stadium this weekend looking to further solidify their claim on the number one seed in the Eastern Conference and the Supporter's Shield. United are on a ten game MLS regular season unbeaten streak (8-2-0, W-D-L) They are also unbeaten at home since April. United's home record is 9-2-1 and they have a +13 goal differential. DC are currently in 1st place in the Eastern Conference, four points clear of New England. DC United also leads the Supporter's Shield race, three points clear of Chivas USA who holds a game in hand.
Toronto FC, not to put too fine a point on it, have been playing the worst soccer in MLS over the last ten weeks. Their league record 824 minute scoreless streak ended in their last game, a 2-1 loss to Columbus. TFC are a horrible road team, with a 1-4-7 record and a -18 goal differential. Toronto is winless since July 4th (0-4-8, -16) and is in last place in the Eastern Conference, twenty-nine points behind DC United. They are also in last place in the Supporter's Shield race.
Entering this weekend, United hold their destiny in their hands. Win out, and they receive all the regular season accolades possible. This weekend Chivas hosts Chicago and New England hosts Colorado. Chicago and Colorado are desperate for points as they are both looking for one of the last playoff spots. Toronto, while mathematically alive, is out of the hunt being eleven points back with four games to play. I expect United to play the same roster they used against CD Guadalajara, Emilio, Morerno, Fred, Gomez, Olsen, Simms, Burch, Vanney, McTavish, Namoff, and Perkins. I also expect the top subs to remain Gros, Carroll, and Boswell.
DC United 3:0 Toronto FC
Chivas USA 2:2 Chicago Fire
New England Revolution 2:1 Colorado Rapids
Copa Sudamericana Round of 16
United had a goal in mind. In previous international tournaments, United had left home with a tie and ended up eliminated. This time, against an opponent they had played earlier this year, United was determined to leave home with a win. The early lead was a good sign. Isn't Olsen on a great streak? But when Burch was sent off, things looked bleak. In my section, I was agitating for a Boswell for Moreno switch with McTavish moving to midfield. Instead, Soehn brought in Gros and Carroll after the fortuitous Simms goal to make it 2-0. United was lucky to leave with the win and it sets them up well for the road game. A tie and they advance.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tonight DC United welcomes CD Guadalajara to RFK Stadium for the first game in a home and home series for the right to advance to the quarterfinals of the Copa Sudamericana. Tonight's game is a late start. Kickoff is at 8:30 PM. United should have everyone available and with the playoff berth secured and bottom feeder Toronto coming to town on Saturday, there is no reason why United won't play their best roster tonight. I expect the starting eleven to be Moreno, Emilio, Fred, Gomez, Olsen, Simms, Burch, Namoff, Vanney, McTavish, and Perkins. Boswell, Carroll, and Gros should be the subs if necessary.
DC United 2:1 CD Guadalajara
Monday, September 24, 2007
I have to admit, I was very tired when I watched the recording of this game and may have dozed off for portions of it. However, it was a pretty boring match. And if you fire up the DVR at 10:30 PM like I did to watch it, it could have been sleep inducing. However, United got the job done. They pulled a tie on the road with four starters on the bench to start the game and three of them unavailable due to Yellow Card Vacation. United's unbeaten streak is now up to ten.
- Even though he didn't score, Emilio was dangerous on the few times the JV midfielders were able to get him the ball.
- Boswell and Vanney looked pretty good next to each other in the middle.
- Mediate and Gros had poor games on the wings.
- Very little imagination.
Forwards (Emilio and Moreno) B+
Jamie gets lucky and scores #111. Not much more could be expected with the service they were getting.
Midfielders (Carroll, Mediate, Gros, and McTavish) C-
McTavish only played a little part of the game here before sliding into Namoff's spot. But, it was some ugly soccer from this group.
Defenders (Vanney, Boswell, Burch, Namoff, and Perkins) B
Good game from this group. The goal was a nice one, could it have been stopped? Yes. But I wasn't upset about it. Chicago made a nice play.
Substitutes (Simms, Addlery, and deRoux) C+
Simms was great, as usual. Addlery and deRoux added little, also as usual.
With New England's tie and Chivas USA's win, here's how things are in the Supporter's Shield and Eastern Conference races as of now:
DC United - 50 Points, 4 Games (3 H, 1 A) Max Points - 62
Chivas USA - 47 Points, 5 Games (3H, 2A) Max Points - 62
New England - 46 Points, 4 Games (2H, 2A) Max Points - 58
Predicted Final Standings as of 9-24
DC United 58
Chivas USA 58
New England 56
(United holds the tie-breaker against both Chivas and NE)
Friday, September 21, 2007
DC United, 15-4-6 (W-D-L), head to Chicago after eleven days off without the services of three starting midfielders. DC United will be without Fred, Ben Olsen, and Christian Gomez, all of whom are on league sponsored Yellow Card Vacation. United won the only previous meeting at RFK 3-1. These two teams will play their third and final game at RFK on October 13. United has clinched a playoff spot and essentially is guaranteed no worse than the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference postseason. There are two things left to play for in the regular seasonfor United. First is to beat out New England for the top seed in the East. New England can get a maximum of sixty points, so United's magic number is eleven (combination of United points and points New England doesn't get for losses and ties). DC United is on nine match MLS unbeaten streak (8-1-0), outscoring their opponents 22-6 in that span. United is 6-2-5 on the road this year with a +7 goal differential, both tops in MLS. United leads the league in points per game (1.96 PPG) and is in 1st place in the Eastern Conference, four points clear of New England (1.80 PPG). United is also in 1st place in the Supporter's Shield race, four points ahead of New England and Houston (1.73 PPG). United has played the same number of games as New England, twenty-five, and one less than Houston.
Chicago Fire, 8-7-10 (W-D-L), are fighting for the final playoff spot with New York, Kansas City, and Colorado. Chicago pulled out a tie in Dallas on Thursday to get a precious point, and are now two points ahead of Colorado. Due to the rule changes this season, if the number five team in the East finishes with more points than the number four team in the West, the East team, currently Chicago, would be placed as the fourth seed in the West for the playoffs. Chicago is a mediocre home team with a 4-5-3 record and a -1 goal differential. They are in 5th place in the Eastern Conference (1.24 PPG), eighteen points behind DC United. They are in 8th place overall, but cannot overtake United for the Supporter's Shield.
The full three points for United would be quite a bonus. A tie keeps them on pace for the Supporter's Shield. If they get one point in each of their road matches and average two points in their three home games, that should be enough to win the Supporter's Shield. I expect the starting eleven for United to be Emilio, Kpene, Moreno, Gros, Carroll, Simms, Namoff, Burch, McTavish, Vanney, and Perkins in a 4-4-2 formation. Moose, Boswell, and Mediate all could get in during the second half.
With five games remaining, United needs about six points to have a good shot at retaining the Supporter's Shield and eleven to guarantee it.
DC United 2:1 Chicago Fire
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I don't know about anyone else, but I am starting to get excited for some thrilling times to come at RFK. If United can hold off the rest of the league, there is a potential for three home playoff games, one of which is the MLS Cup. So, since I love me some stats, I want to look at what I think the chances are that I will be at MLS Cup cheering on the Black and Red.
There are three factors involved in United playing in the MLS Cup at RFK.
1. Will United finish in first place in the East?
2. How does United play at home? How do the rest of the teams play on the road?
3. Are the best players healthy, available, and in the lineup?
To address the first factor, let's look at the potential playoff teams in the East.
DC - 49 Points, 5 Games (3 H, 2 A), Max Possible Points - 64
NE - 45 Points, 5 Games (2 H, 3 A), Max Possible Points - 60
NY - 37 Points, 5 Games (3 H, 2 A), Max Possible Points - 52
KC - 36 Points, 5 Games (2 H, 3 A), Max Possible Points - 51
CHI - 30 Points, 6 Games (3 H, 3 A), Max Possible Points - 48
So barring an epic collapse, United only has to worry about New England for top seed in the East. United has an extra home game over the Revolution and a four point cushion. United won the season series with two wins and a tie, so DC clinches the top seed with 60 points if NE maxes out their points. That is unlikely, so let's say they do really well and win four of the five games. United would need eight points to win the East. Win two of three at home and get two points on the road and they are there. Chances of winning the East: 90%.
If United wins the East, they have a home and home in the first round against New York, Kansas City, or Chicago. United is 9-2-1 (W-D-L) at home this season with a +13 goal differential. Their only loss was the first one in April, so United is on an eleven game unbeaten streak at home and a four game winning streak. The best road team of the three is Kansas City. They are 3-4-5 with a -4 goal differential. United on the road is one of only two teams to be above .500 at 6-2-5. United also has the best road goal differential at +7. So United has a distinct advantage in the first round. Chances of winning the first round: 80%.
Now, let's assume New England advances to the Eastern Conference Finals. United has owned them this year, outscoring them 8-3 in three games. United's home record compared to New England's road record (6-2-4, -2 GD) again favors United. Chances of winning the Eastern Conference Championship game: 70 %.
So that leaves the third factor, lineups. The DC United coaching staff seems to have figured out who the best players are and are getting tremendous results recently. My only quibble is Vanney over Boswell, but that is minor compared to Simms/Carroll. So, will everyone be available for each game? Injuries and suspensions can crop up. Chances of fielding the top lineup: 95%.
So, if my unscientific and completely subjective guesses are right, what are the chances of DC United hosting the MLS Cup at RFK? United has a 48% chance. See, that's why I am getting excited.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Game 25 - DC United 2:1 Real Salt Lake
I was as frustrated after this win as any loss of this season. My frustration manifested in a few ways. Frustration at the coaching staff for choosing to rest Fred at the start of the game. With Moreno out playing for Bolivia, we needed Fred in there for creativity and the threat he is to defenses. Without him, RSL could key on Gomez and severely limit DC's ability to attack. Second, I was frustrated with the lack of possession by DC in the first half. RSL was living in DC's third of the field. They were clearly the better team in the first half. Third, I was frustrated with the officiating. Having been at the game and having not watched it on replay, I know some of the calls I disagreed with would have been correct. The sheer volume and the devastating effect of them, was alarming. All three cards on Olsen, Fred, and Gomez were suspect. Especially Fred. It seemed the linesman was feeling slighted and took it out on Fred for dissent. Even the referee later told the linesman to cool it when he got heated a few minutes later. I can honestly say I got little pleasure out of this win. All I could think of on the way home was three of United's four starting midfielders would be unavailable at Chicago.
- United took the full three points on a night when things seemed to be going against them.
- Perkins makes a great save on the penalty.
- Emilio notches another
- Gomez tells Emilio to get lost then missed the penalty.
- All the yellow.
Forwards (Kpene and Emilio) B
Emilio was very good again, but Kpene seemed to dribble himself into trouble. He had one speedy run which showed he is fully healthy, which is nice.
Midfielders (Gros, Gomez, Carroll, and Olsen) B-
An awful first half can be mostly blamed on this group. A better second half saved their grade.
Defenders (Boswell, McTavish, Burch, Namoff, and Perkins) B
No major complaints from this group. Tighter marking on Beckerman might have resulted in a clean sheet.
Substitutes (Fred and Simms) A-
Fred's excellent cross results in the go ahead goal. Simms came in and helped kill the game.
So United is now off for ten days. They will be severely short handed at Chicago, so that result is in serious doubt. If they can salvage a tie, they will be sitting on fifty points with four games to play. Chivas USA's recent form has caused me to up my estimate of the point total needed to win the Supporter's Shield from fifty-four to fifty-six. United therefore needs seven points from their final five games to reach that number.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
DC United, 14-4-6 (W-D-L), remain at home and hope to avenge their loss to Real Salt Lake earlier this season. United lost that game 2-1 and played some uninspired soccer that night in Salt Lake City. Remember, that was the night Jay Nolly got the start in goal and Rod Dyachenko started at forward. Let's hope we don't have a repeat of that disaster. United also clinches a playoff spot with thier next point. DC United is on an eight match MLS unbeaten streak (7-1-0), outscoring their opponents 20-5 in that span. DC United improved its home record on Sunday to 8-2-1 with a +12 goal differential. United leads the league in points per game (1.92 PPG) and is in 1st place in the Eastern Conference, four points clear of New England (1.75 PPG). United is also in 1st place in the Supporter's Shield race, four points ahead of New England and FC Dallas (1.70 PPG). United has played the same number of games as New England, twenty-four, and one less than FC Dallas.
Real Salt Lake, 4-6-12 (W-D-L), are among the worst teams in the league. However, they seem to have United's number. The game in Utah might have been United's worst performance of the year. RSL is awful on the road this season with a 1-3-7 record and a -10 goal differential. They are in 5th place in the Western Conference (0.82 PPG), twenty-four points behind Houston with three games in hand; and in 12th place in the Supporter's Shield race, twenty-eight points behind DC United with two games in hand.
This match will decide the Ben Cup. If you don't know what that is, look it up here. United doesn't have anyone unavailable as of now, but has three players (Fred, Gomez, and Olsen) sitting on their last yellow card. I was actually thinking it might make sense to have Gomez get a yellow on Sunday to get it over with before a tougher opponent. But I decided that was a terrible idea. Go get the points against the bad teams. RSL is a bad team. It might be Vanney's turn to sit this one out on defense. I expect the starting eleven for United to be Emilio, Moreno, Gomez, Fred, Olsen, Simms, Namoff, Burch, McTavish, Boswell, and Perkins in a 4-4-2 formation. Carroll, Kpene, and Gros all could get in during the second half.
With six games remaining, United needs about eight points to have a good shot at retaining the Supporter's Shield. If DC wins this game, then they only need five points from the five remaining games, three of which are at home.
DC United 2:0 Real Salt Lake
Apologies all around for not posting a preview. I'll try to make up for it in this game review.
After attending the Redskins game Sunday, I watched the HD replay on Comcast. I'll go into my machinations for how I decided to go to the Redskins game instead of United vs Revolution below, but I want to say right now that this was the first home game I had watched on TV in a few years and the coverage was 100% better than ESPN's Thursday night games. Kudos all around. The picture was gorgeous, the commentary was good, and no technical glitches which caused me to miss large portions of the game. So I avoided any way of finding out the score ahead of time (same for USA vs Brazil) and settled in to watch a lot of soccer at 8 PM. I found the starting lineup curious in that I thought Boswell had played well since his return to the starting lineup and Vanney was the one due for a rest, and I was shocked that Gros was not only available but starting. I would have thought he would have done one game as a sub before being put back in the starting lineup. Maybe Olsen really needed the rest, but with Real Salt Lake visiting on Wednesday, I would have thought that was the game to rest Olsen. (Although, I am reminded of a similar line of thought by the coaching staff which may have contributed to United's loss at RSL earlier this year.)
The game started well again with United scoring first. When was the last time United didn't score first? I need to look this up. The last time United failed to score the first goal in league play was against NYRB on July 22nd, nine games ago. Overall, the last time United conceded the first goal was in the SuperLiga semifinal against LA Galaxy. Not bad. The fact that in both situations they lost via shutout is not a pleasant statistic, however. The two goals New England scored were both deflections and the first one was comical in it's unluckitude. What was great to see was how United was able to rebound from their first deficit in a while and push ahead to the three points. United is now four points clear of the league. With winnable games at home coming up, United is in spectacular position to claim their second consecutive Supporter's Shield. More on that in the RSL preview later today.
- Emilio is making a case for MLS MVP. It's really down to him and Angel right?
- Fred slots home his one chance.
- Moreno scores in the run of play.
- Gros plays the full 90 minutes with no ill effects.
- The inability to clear the second goal off the line.
- The full Sunday schedule (United, USA, and Redskins), more below.
Forwards (Moreno and Emilio) A
Emilio now stands on 18 goals and is the clear favorite for the Golden Boot and has to be one of the three named as finalists for MLS MVP. Moreno had a beautiful assist on Fred's goal and also scored #110 himself.
Midfielders (Fred, Gomez, Gros, and Simms) A-
Gros played with excellent effort and you could see that he is a much better midfielder than left back. Gomez and Fred had a good game pushing forward for the tying and go ahead goals in the second half. Simms was steady as usual.
Defenders (McTavish, Burch, Vanney, Namoff, and Perkins) B
Vanney needs to do a better job of marking the opposition's best forward. The first goal doesn't happen if he is a yard closer. The second goal may or may not have crossed the line. I have no idea.
Substitutes (Olsen, Carroll, and Boswell) A
Olsen and Carroll assisted on goals and Boswell settled the defense. Excellent work about the subs. See I can say something nice about Carroll.
Last year, the Redskins were playing the Cowboys at the same time as United was playing the Eastern Conference finals. My friend who goes to the United games with me and I both chose United. The fact that United lost and the Redskins won in dramatic last second fashion, didn't cause us to regret the decision. Sunday, the Redskins were opening their season and United was playing the first of five games at home down the stretch. Playoffs are guaranteed for United at this point, and I decided to go to the Redskins game. My friend did me one better and flew to Chicago to watch USA-Brazil. I don't regret this choice either. Here is the thing though. Why schedule them head to head? United hasn't played a Saturday night home game since July 14th. Everyone knows the NFL was opening their season this weekend. Would it have been that difficult to decide that there would be no home games in NFL cities on Sundays when making the schedule last winter? There is only one Sunday MLS game a week. Put the games in LA for the month of September. Chivas and LA Galaxy can host two games each on Sundays and allow fans who like both the local NFL team and the local MLS team to not have to give up one of their tickets. I am a season ticket holder of both teams and I really get upset when a minimum of effort isn't given by front offices to conflicts like this. For a Saturday night game, there would have been 5,000 more tickets sold. Up against the NFL, you miss out on the crossover fans and the portion of the 93,000 people who go to the Redskins games who also go to United games like me. End of rant.
Friday, September 07, 2007
On ESPN2, United played the first 76 minute game of the year in Los Angeles against Chivas USA. On my TV, United lost 2-1, however, in my morning paper, they listed the score as 2-2. Let's hope the powers-that-be don't catch on and take away the point in the standings that United stole. What's that? The game was really 90 minutes and we missed a United goal? How can that be in the modern TV age? And what about the missing minutes in the second half? Technical difficulties? Huh. Weird.
And what was up with the ref going straight red on Vanney and then changing his mind? I thought if you were giving a second yellow, you first put up the yellow and then the red to show it wasn't a straight red card. This is yet another example of MLS referees blowing the simple things. And let's not even mention the blatant bad call on Chivas at the end. Preki should have rushed the field in protest. If United had been screwed like that, I would have thrown something at the TV.
Anyway, let me give myself some props for correctly predicting the score. I think that makes me 1-54 to get both the score and result correct. Awesome. Second, this is the 100th post of this blog, so I'd like to say thanks to everyone who reads it and doesn't hate it.
- Great fast start by Emilio and the rest of United.
- Burch was excellent again.
- Sloppy play by Perkins leads to the first goal.
- Yellow all around on the defense.
Forwards (Moreno and Emilio) A-
Great first half work from these two. Both of them heavily influenced the play. Unfortunately, they tended to disappear in the second half. Moreno's assist moves him into sole posession of 5th place on the MLS All-Time Assists list with 88. Congrats, Jamie.
Midfielders (Fred, Gomez, Olsen, and Simms) B
Not the best game from this group. Fred tried to impose himself on the game in the second half, but as often as not, his passes went to Chivas.
Defenders (Boswell, Vanney, Burch, Perkins, and Namoff) B
Two deflections resulted in goals. I don't hold them too responsible for that. What I do hold them responsible for is the reckless challenges. You can't have three of four defenders playing with yellows. You take away the aggressiveness. And why didn't they sub in McTavish for someone who had a yellow?
Substitutes (Carroll and Mediate) B-
Carroll did some nice running to try to kill the game however he was ball watching at the top of his own box which almost resulted in the go ahead goal. He's maddening, that guy.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
DC United, 13-3-6 (W-D-L), go west for a matchup of the two hottest teams in MLS. DC United is on a six match MLS winning streak, outscoring their opponents 14-1 in that span. This is the last of three straight on the road for DC. United took the full six points at Dallas and Toronto. DC United improved their road record to 6-1-5 with a +7 goal differential. United leads the league in points per game (1.91 PPG) and is in 1st place in the Eastern Conference, tied with New England (1.83 PPG) with one game in hand. United is also in 1st place in the Supporter's Shield race.
Chivas USA, 11-3-6 (W-D-L), have been on a tear recently, winning five of their last six games. Even more impressively, they have won the last three by shutout. Chivas is excellent at home and really should be considered the leader in the West due to the fact that they have four games in hand on Houston. Chivas is undefeated at home this season with a 7-1-0 record and a +11 goal differential. They are in 2nd place in the Western Conference (1.80 PPG), three points behind Houston and in 4th place in the Supporter's Shield race.
United will be without Josh Gros again, but otherwise should have the full compliment of players. Coach Soehn appears to be rotating players on defense, so the back four is a bit up in the air. I expect the starting eleven for United to be Emilio, Moreno, Gomez, Fred, Olsen, Simms, Namoff, Burch, McTavish, Boswell, and Perkins in a 4-4-2 formation. Kpene, Carroll, and Moose all should get in during the second half.
With eight games remaining, United needs about twelve points to have a good shot at retaining the Supporter's Shield. If DC wins this game, then they only need nine points from the seven remaining games, five of which are at home. It's a great time to be a United fan.
DC United 2:2 Chivas USA
Sunday, September 02, 2007
I have to say this is the most surprising result of the entire season. While I thought DC would compete well against Dallas, I would never have expected them to run them off the field. Olsen's brace, Fred and Gomez with tremendous, momentum seizing goals, and Perkins in complete control were huge developments which I think have significance beyond this one game. United's run of six straight wins while outscoring the competition 14-1 is the best run I can ever remember. Included in those games are 3-0 wins at New England, 3-1 win at home against New York and this 4-0 win at Dallas. You could argue those teams are the three best teams not in Washington, DC. So what does it mean? United is now in the driver's seat for the Supporter's Shield. They are playing better than anyone else, they have eight games remaining on the schedule, and five of those are at home.
- Another clean sheet
- Excellent midfield play
- DC now atop the standings
(For the first time, this section is empty)
Forwards (Moreno and Emilio) B+
Nice steady play. Emilio easily could have had the second Olsen goal. I wonder what was happening on the sideline after Emilio was subbed out. The head coach went over to him, he had his head in his hands. I hope it was simple frustration about being the first sub and not some injury or anger at the coach. It warrants watching.
Midfielders (Fred, Gomez, Olsen, and Simms) A+
All four goals came from this group. Just spectacular all around play. This foursome should remain unchanged for the rest of the year.
Defenders (Namoff, Vanney, Boswell, Burch, and Perkins) A+
One goal in the last six games. Boswell fits right back in and plays a great game. Burch contributed to two goals with crosses. And Perkins backs up his August MLS Player of the Month award with another outstanding game.
Substitutes (Mediate, McTavish, and Dyachenko) I
I honestly didn't pay much attention to the game after it went to 4-0. Lots of company over and I got distracted.
So United sits at 42 points with eight games to go. When I started looking ahead with twelve games to go, I never would have imagined getting the full twelve points in the next four games. I had them getting seven points, so they are five ahead of pace to get to 54. If they win the game against New England, that should put them in clear control of the Eastern Conference. And the game this week at Chivas is a "six point game" and could put a serious dent in Chivas' hopes for the Supporter's Shield. Big week coming up.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Preview of Game 22 - DC United at FC Dallas
DC United, 12-3-6 (W-D-L), head to Texas for a game with FC Dallas. This matches two of the hottest teams in MLS against each other and is a rematch of one of the quirkiest games of the season. DC United is on a five match MLS winning streak, outscoring their opponents 10-1 in that span. Brian Carroll is unavailable due to yellow card accumulation. Christian Gomez is one card away from sitting out the next game, as well. Everyone else should be available after a fill week of rest except for Josh Gros. This is the second of three straight on the road for DC. Taking the full three points at Toronto was a great way to start the trip. United evened their road record at 5-1-5 (W-D-L) with a +3 goal differential. United leads the league in points per game (1.86 PPG) and is in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference, three points behind New England (1.83 PPG) with two games in hand. United is also in 2nd place in the Supporter Shield race.
FC Dallas, 11-3-7 (W-D-L), are cruising along in the Western Conference. They appear to have a playoff spot locked up and are looking to solidify their position one of the top teams in the West. FC Dallas is 6-1-2 at their home stadium with a +7 goal differential. They are in 3rd place in the Western Conference (1.71 PPG), two points behind Houston with two games in hand, and in 5th place in the Supporter's Shield race.
Brian Hall is scheduled to ref this match, which leads me to my new favorite statistic. Hall has reffed thirty games each for United and FC Dallas in his career. FC Dallas' record is 16-6-8 (W-D-L) in his matches. United's record? 13-5-12. So one team is eight games over .500 and the other is one game over .500. I was unable to figure out how long Hall has been employed by MLS, but I will guess that he probably averages four United games a year, being that there are six games a weekend over thirty weeks, and I think he works every week. So his thirty games would go back to around 2000. During that time, United has a record of 89-50-94, or five games below .500. FC Dallas has a record of 92-43-96, or four games below .500. Almost identical records over the last seven and a half seasons. Yet, in games overseen by Hall, United is one game over .500 and Dallas is eight games over .500. Now, this isn't an indictment of Hall, the three time MLS referee of the year. However, is bears watching. Patterns like this are terrible for referees. The records of the teams they ref should be similar to their overall records after enough games have been played. Thirty games is a large enough sample to start drawing conclusions from.
United will be without Josh Gros and Boswell is still riding the pine. I expect the starting eleven for United to be Emilio, Moreno, Gomez, Fred, Olsen, Simms, Namoff, Burch, McTavish, Vanney, and Perkins in a 4-4-2 formation. Kpene, Addlery, and Moose all should get in during the second half.
With nine games remaining, United needs about fifteen points to have a good shot at retaining the Supporter's Shield. If DC wins one of the next two games on the road, then they need twelve points from the five home games. It's looking better and better.
DC United 1:1 FC Dallas
Monday, August 27, 2007
DC United stole three points on the road to further enhance their chances at the Supporter's Shield. Toronto FC clearly played the better game, but DC cashed in on their only shot on goal of the first half and made it stand up with some timely defending and poor finishing by TFC. With Emilio, Olsen and Gros not making the trip to Canada, United's attack lacked possession which resulted in Toronto pushing their attack throughout the game. Perkins played very well and was the difference between three points and none. With the win, United moves into second place in the Eastern Conference and in the full table, three points behind New England with two games in hand.
- Perkins and the defense pitch another shutout.
- Another early goal to put the opponent on their heels.
- Simms was great again in the midfield.
- The forwards, more below.
- The substitutes, more below.
- The field, more here. Once again, the field proved to be as big an influence on how the game played out as anything else. The turf in Toronto doesn't give a true bounce and whether it was because of the wetness or if that's how it always plays, the ball skipped all over the place. I've been to Toronto. I know they can grow grass there. It's a real shame MLS hasn't strapped on a set and dictated that outdoor turf is verboten.
Forwards (Dyachenko and Addlery) D-
Can we end the Dyachenko experiment for 2007? Unimaginative, uninspired, and unskillful. And Addlery was completely unable to control the passes he was given, passes Moreno and Emilio are able to handle regularly. I don't understand why Kpene was not give the start over either of these options.
Midfielders (Fred, Gomez, Simms, and Carroll) B
The offense, the little that there was, came from this group. Carroll looked better on the wing pushing up field without the responsibility to distribute from the middle. Gomez and Fred were the best players on the field not named Perkins. Simms continues to show why he deserves to be on the field. And did you see the stat in the Post? United is 16-5-3 (W-D-T) with Simms in the lineup over the last two years. Wow.
Defense (Burch, McTavish, Vanney, Namoff, and Perkins) A-
Another clean sheet for this group. Perkins was great, but the fullbacks didn't have their best game. Still it is the result that counts. United has given up the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference and is third overall in GAA at 1.10.
Substitutes (Kpene, Mediate, and Moreno) C-
As well and Moreno played, this group was unable to maintain possession of the ball and allowed Toronto to begin peppering the defense, make runs in the box and keep possession for almost the entire second half.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
DC United, 11-3-6 (W-D-L), head north for an "international" league matchup with Toronto FC. This game involves two teams heading in opposite directions. United is on a four game MLS winning streak, outscoring their opponents 9-1. Toronto on the other hand is falling through the floor recently. Toronto hasn't won since July 4th (0-3-5), and has been outscored 15-3 in those eight games. For the season, United is 4-1-5 (W-D-L) on the road with a +2 goal differential. United (1.80 PPG) is in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference, three points behind New England (1.77 PPG) with two games in hand. United is in 3rd place in the Supporter Shield race, also led by New England.
Toronto FC, 5-5-11 (W-D-L), are looking to salvage their season with a late run for a playoff spot. Their recent run of play suggests that they will end their freshman season out of the postseason. Toronto is 4-1-5 at their home stadium with an even goal differential. They are in last place in the Eastern Conference (0.95 PPG), nineteen points behind New England with one game in hand, and in 11th place in the Supporter's Shield race.
United won the only previous meeting between the two clubs 2-1 in Toronto. United will be without Luciano Emilio, Ben Olsen, and Josh Gros, and Boswell is still in the doghouse, so the lineup will feature some different faces. I expect the starting eleven for United to be Kpene, Moreno, Gomez, Fred, Mediate, Simms, Namoff, Burch, McTavish, Vanney, and Perkins in a 4-4-2 formation. Carroll, Dyachenko and Moose all should get in during the second half.
This is the first of three straight on the road for DC. With ten games remaining, United needs about eighteen points to have a good shot at the Supporter's Shield. If DC wins two of the road games, then they need twelve points from the five home games. It's doable.
DC United 2:0 Toronto FC
Friday, August 24, 2007
Due to fraternal lateness, I missed the first two goals of the game. There is nothing more depressing than waiting outside the stadium for someone and hearing the crowd erupt. And to have it happen twice was torture. We were in our seats by the ten minute mark, and at least it was United up two instead of the other way around, but well, you know what I mean. So, Olsen cleans up in the box and Gomez knocks in a deflected cross to put United up early. This is the kind of opportunism United had been lacking lately. A month ago, Olsen would have been a step late and Gomez would have launched it over the bar. This is a good sign for the future. The two penalties looked legit.
All in all, a good game. United pulled all three points, retains the Atlantic Cup again, and moves to thirty-six on the season with ten games to go split evenly at five at home and five on the road. United has the best points per game average in the league at 1.80, exactly the pace needed for fifty-four points. If I am right and that's what they need to get to to win the Supporter's Shield, DC United needs eighteen of the final thirty available. Other than Gros, who is out indefinitely, United is healthy and look to be peaking. There are options available in the lineup at all positions. I feel better about the season now than at any point this year. Of course, United heads out on a three game road trip which will determine the course of the season. But no pressure, guys.
- Moreno notches #109. Long time coming, he and I both wish it had come in the run of play, but I'm glad he got it. I don't think he'll hold it long, but like Art Monk, he deserves to have it associated with his name. Congrats, Jamie.
- Other than a few slips, the defense was solid again. It looks like the problems of the Spring and early Summer are behind the back line and Perkins had another good game.
- Simms was very good as the defensive midfielder. It has to be his job now. Right, Tom?
- I thought this was a well officiated game, except for one offside call which was really bad. I believe it was on Emilio and he hit the post on the ensuing shot. Could have been costly.
- The trip by Perkins in the box was unnecessary. I don't know why goalies reach like that for the legs of forwards in their box when they are that far away from goal. If they trip the player, it's a goal from the spot almost guaranteed. If they miss, maybe it will still be a goal, but at a lesser percentage. And on top of it, he had help behind him.
- Boswell's benching is bothering me. I wish there was more information on it, as everything now is speculation. If he just got put in the doghouse, that's one thing. If it is because the staff thinks Vanney is the better player, I can't agree with that assessment.
Forwards (Emilio and Moreno) B+
Moreno had a few near misses and Emilio played a very good game. Jamie also moved into a tie for fifth place on the MLS All-Time Assist list, tied with Cobi Jones.
Midfielders (Fred, Olsen, Gomez, and Simms) A-
A great all around game from this group. Gomez continues to improve his form. Maybe not to his 2004 or 2006 level, but he is making his darting runs and putting the defense on their heels. Speaking of which, Fred has struck fear in the heart of quite a few players. He is finding lots of space to work with and is doing very creative things with it. I thought he had an excellent game.
Defenders (McTavish, Vanney, Namoff, Burch, and Perkins) B
Other than the penalty, they played a solid game against a few very dangerous attacking players. Angel was threatening for much of the game, but you can't expect to completely shut him down.
Substitutes (Carroll, Dyachenko, and Mediate) C+
They did their job, kill clock, but I wasn't impressed by any of them.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
United's #99, Jamie Moreno, now stands alone atop the list of the greatest goal scorers in Major League Soccer's twelve year history. Moreno scored number 109 on a penalty against New York in DC United's 3-1 victory. Congratulations, Jamie.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
DC United, 10-3-6 (W-D-L), return home for the deciding match in the Atlantic Cup competition for 2007 against the New York Red Bulls. United was victorious in Columbus last Saturday, beating the Crew 2-0. The Brasilians, Fred and Emilio, each tallied for the Red and Black. United is on a three match winning streak (all shutouts) in MLS play and hasn't lost at home since April. For the season, United is 6-2-1 (W-D-L) at home with a +8 goal differential. United (1.74 PPG) is in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference, six points behind New England (1.77 PPG) with three games in hand. United is in 4th place in the Supporter Shield race, also led by New England.
New York, 10-3-7 (W-D-L), are flying high after their thrilling 5-4 victory over David Beckham and the LA Galaxy in front of a home crowd of 66,000. New York is 3-2-4 on the road this season with a -5 goal differential. They are in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference (1.65 PPG), six points behind New England with two games in hand, and in 5th place in the Supporter's Shield race.
The Atlantic Cup will be decided by this game. According to mlsnet.com, the tie breakers are as follows: "Goal difference is the first tie-breaker, followed by away goals; if still tied, United (as holders) will retain the cup." So if DC and New York tie the game, United will win on the first tie breaker as they are currently leading 2-1 on aggregate goals.
United and New York have split the season series thus far, each winning on their home field. United will be without Josh Gros who suffered another concussion early in the game against Columbus. He may be out quite a while to be sure he doesn't suffer any lingering effects. Former United players Dema Kovalenko and Santino Quaranta are out for New York. I expect the starting eleven for United to be Emilio, Moreno, Gomez, Fred, Olsen, Simms, Namoff, Burch, McTavish, Boswell, and Perkins in a 4-4-2 formation. Carroll, Kpene and Vanney all should get in during the second half.
This is United's last home game for a while. The next three are on the road. To continue their chances for the Supporter's Shield, United needs at least a tie. I continue to think fifty-four points wins the Supporter's Shield. United has thirty-three points with eleven games remaining, six at home and five on the road.
DC United 3:2 New York Red Bulls
DC United retains the Atlantic Cup