Friday, June 29, 2007

Facundo Erpen Traded

It is now official. Facundo Erpen has made his last Flying Facundo as a member of DC United. Erpen, 24, has been traded for 33 year old Colorado Rapids defender Greg Vanney. This is like a old time Washington Bullets trade, young for old, long term for short term. As I mentioned below, unless this is followed by an international signing before the end of the summer, this will be a Bad Trade.
Erpen to Be Traded for Vanney?

According to the Washington Post, there is a possibility Facundo Erpen will be traded for USMNT veteran Greg Vanney.

I have two thoughts about this:

  1. Erpen is not the problem on the defense, a lack of bodies is. And I'm not sure a straight up swap makes United better. If this is the reason, I'm not too excited.
  2. Maybe this is a foreign roster spot thing and United has a player they want to add when rosters open up later this summer. Emilio, Fred, Gomez and Erpen are the senior team foreign players, I believe. If Erpen is moved, maybe United signs an international defender. If this is the reasoning, I am all for it.

EDIT: Erpen doesn't currently count as a senior team international because he is younger than 25. However, he would count as such next season and one of the internationals would need to be moved as United is at the limit.

Game 12 - DC United 4:1 Colorado Rapids

DC United turned a potentially disastrous game into a rout with a kind of persistence usually associated with, dare I say, championship teams. Everything was against United on Thursday. Kpene hurt his hamstring in the 8th minute, and with Moreno in Venezuela and Dyachenko clearly ineffective, this was an ominous start. Addlery quickly entered the game and joined the DC United B squad on the field. The first fifteen minutes of the game were dreadful. The back line was uneven, the midfield was very prone to the quick giveaways, and the forwards were not getting good service. All this lead to the Colorado goal. Two or three DC United defenders had a chance to either closely mark a player or clear a 50/50 ball, but the result was a goal in the 19th minute which was indicative of Colorado's ability to keep the ball in DC's third of the field.

That seemed to get United's attention, and the next fifteen minutes were much better. A nice play in the box led to Greg Vanney reaching with his hand and he clearly touched the ball. Play was allowed to continue momentarily and the penalty should have been moot as Addlery had an open goal to shoot into, but he pushed the ball way left. All was righted when the referee (who had an excellent game) pointed to the spot. Penalty! With Moreno absent, Gomez, calmly slotted the ball in the corner and all was even.

DC seemed to dominate play over the next 45 minutes, but there was the occasional big save needed from Perkins to keep the game level. Fred missed several chances to put United ahead and seemed very frustrated with his lack of ability to notch his first MLS goal. Finally, Addlery was able to nod home a beautiful corner from Fred and as if in celebration, the heavens opened with rain and lightening.

We now pause for 30 minutes for safety reasons.

So with about 15 minutes remaining in the game, United looked to maintain their lead and a spectacular sprawling save from Perkins was required. Soon after, the Brasilians were able to put the game out of reach. Fred scored off a nice pass from Addlery and Emilio converted a clinical finish off an assist from Gomez. A dedicated crowd was treated to a rout. Things got a little chippy at the end as the Rapids were clearly embarrassed and angry about the result, but no one was hurt and the celebration was on.

The Good:

  • Addlery and Fred join the Goal Scorers list.
  • Perkins was in top form, best I've seen him all year.
  • Emilio continues to be the player we hoped for, a true goal scorer.
The Bad:

  • Other than the sloppy start and the 30 minute delay, not much to complain about.

Forwards (Emilio and Kpene/Addlery) A-

Addlery took a while to get going but had a hand in two of the goals, and Emilio continues to excel.

Midfielders (Fred, Gomez, Carroll the Elder, and Moose) B

Good service from this group. Would be a higher grade if not for the terrible passing in the first 15 minutes. I really like Moose. He never quits on a play and has a nice touch in traffic. He had one great lob pass to Emilio which was very clever. I want to see more of him playing the wings. Maybe when everyone gets back, Carroll can take a game off and we can see what Olsen in defensive midfield with Moose on the right looks like.

Defense (Erpen, McTavish, Simms, Gros, and Perkins) A

An excellent effort from a group we hope to never see. Simms played well. McTavish looked more comfortable in the center, rather than the right. Gros is really coming on and other than a laughable crossing attempt, he was very good. Perkins was stellar. Erpen was very steady. Nice work all around.

Subs (Burch and Dyachenko) I

Only 5 minutes combined in a 4-1 game. No grade.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Jamie Shows Some Nice Moves for Bolivia

DC United Waives Wilson

DC United Defender John Wilson was waived yesterday by DC United. Since he hadn't seen the field this year, I am not at all surprised. His salary of $39,930 is not a large one, but could free up some money for a future signing of a young player. So, thank you, John, you had some good moments for DC and we will remember you fondly. I won't even mention the penalty fiasco at RSL last year.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Preview of Game 12 - DC United vs Colorado Rapids

United, 5-2-4 (W-D-L), enters this game after their worst performance since April, a 2-1 loss at Real Salt Lake. United will be very shorthanded with Boswell, Olsen, and Moreno missing due to Copa America national team duty. As a result, some of the younger players will get a chance to play the full 90. DC is 4-1-1 at home this season with a +4 goal differential. They are in 4th place in the Eastern Conference (1.55 PPG), five points behind New England (1.83 PPG) with one game in hand. They are in 6th place in the Supporter's Shield race, eight points behind FC Dallas (1.67 PPG) with four games in hand.

Colorado comes to DC to on a four game loosing streak including last week's 1-0 loss to FC Dallas. The Rapids are 2-4-0 on the road this season with a -3 goal differential. They are in 4th place in the Western Conference (1.15 PPG), ten points behind FC Dallas (1.67 PPG), and in 8th place in the Supporter's Shield race.

United failed to win the easy one against the MLS' worst team, Real Salt Lake, so now they need to regroup on a short week to prepare for a streaking Rapids team on Thursday Night Soccer. With Boswell, Olsen, and Moreno out of the country, I expect the starting eleven to be Emilio, Kpene, Gomez, Fred, Simms, Carroll the Elder, Erpen, McTavish, Gros, Namoff, and Perkins a 4-4-2 formation. Dyachenko, Addlery, and Moose should get in during the second half. I hope I am wrong, but this could easily be a one goal stinker of a game.

EDIT: It appears that Namoff will be unavailable due to a hamstring issue. So, Moose should replace him and we may see a return to the 3-5-2 formation. Kpene and Emilio up top, Fred and Moose on the wings, Gomez, Carroll, and Simms in the middle, and McTavish, Erpen and Gros in the back. Eeek. And the rain may come crashing down. Bring your umbrellas.


DC United 1:0 Colorado Rapids

Game 11 - DC United 1:2 Real Salt Lake

It took me a while to muster up the motivation to recap this disastrous game. DC came in looking as good as they have in 10 months. Seven game unbeaten streak, 7 goals in their last two games, and only missing one player from the starting eleven. RSL is the dregs of MLS, can't score, can't defend, can't win. Ninety minutes later, you'd have been forgiven if you thought the teams switched uniforms before kickoff.

The Good:

  • Nolly wasn't as bad as I thought he would be. I have to say, I am not happy with the decision to give him the start. Starting every game shouldn't be a problem for a goalie with no injury issues. This isn't hockey.
  • Kpene, Emilio, and Fred make something out of nothing to end the shutout. Not a pretty goal, but at least it went in.

The Bad:

  • Boswell made huge errors, one of which lead to the breakaway goal. And I can't stand this constant raising of the hand to indicate offsides every time a defender gets beaten. What ever happened to a player putting his head down and getting back in the play?
  • Dyachenko, Forward. Can we end this experiment now? Maybe a year or two from now, he may be a great target forward. But now, today, this minute, his goal last week not withstanding, he isn't an MLS quality forward. Kpene and Moose are definitely more effective.


Forwards (Dyachenko and Emilio) C

Emilio is the unsung hero of this team. He is constantly tracking back to midfield when it is necessary. But he never shirks he responsibilities up front. I am thrilled to have him on the team and look forward to years of him in a DC United uniform. Dyachenko, ugh.

Midfielders (Fred, Gomez, Carroll the Elder, and Olsen) B-

Fred looked good again, but not much else from this group.

Defense (Erpen, Namoff, Gros, McTavish, and Perkins) C-

We're back to the all or nothing defense. When they keep their man in front and play with their legs rather than try to either make the spectacular play or mess up the offside trap, they are very successful.

Subs (Addlery, Simms, and Kpene) C+

I remember nothing of note from Addlery and Simms. Kpene should have started and his clever flick into the box with his back turned led to the lone DC goal.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Preview of Game 11 - DC United at Real Salt Lake

United now has a seven game unbeaten streak, 5-2-0 (W-D-L), including last week's 3-1 win over Chicago. United has scored 7 goals in their last two games, their two highest outbursts of the year. DC is 1-1-2 at home this season with a -1 goal differential. They are in 4th place in the Eastern Conference (1.70 PPG), 4 points behind NYRB (1.75 PPG) with 2 games in hand. They are in 6th place in the Supporter's Shield race, 5 points behind FC Dallas (1.57 PPG) with an amazing four games in hand.

Real Salt Lake welcomes DC to Utah looking record their first win of the MLS season. Salt Lake has only scored 2 goals in their last 4 league matches and a pathetic nine all season. Their record (0-6-5) is the worst in MLS. RSL is 0-3-2 at home with a -3 goal differential. They are in 6th place in the Western Conference (0.55 PPG), 16 behind FC Dallas, and in 13th place in the Supporter's Shield race.

These are the games when you "harvest your nuts" as Wizards coach Eddie Jordan so poetically put it. What he means is win the games you should win so that when winter comes (@KC, @HOU, FCD, and @NYRB) you are in the best shape possible. United will not be satisfied without the full 3 points this weekend and 3 more next Thursday against Colorado. RSL is quite simply a mess, and they are pissed off because they were promised Adu would be available for this game. Instead, he is with the U-20 team preparing for next month's tournament in Canada. Moreno is still with Bolivia for a few more games and Casal is away with his national team. Boswell (red card) and Kpene (injury) should both be available. I expect the starting eleven to be Emilio, Kpene, Gomez, Fred, Olsen, Carroll the Elder, Erpen, McTavish, Gros, Namoff, and Perkins a 4-4-2 formation. Dyachenko, Simms, and Moose should get in during the second half. Maybe this is the week Kpene gets his first goal? And this is the first game in the Ben Cup for 2007. Let's all get behind this great idea.


DC United 2:0 Real Salt Lake

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Game 10 - DC United 3:1 Chicago Fire

DC took advantage of several gifts from the Fire this week. It's a simple statement, but it is a very accurate way to sum up game 10 on the schedule. And how many points are missed in the standings because a team is unable to take what is given to them? So, good show from United this week. Well done, Dyachenko and Emilio, for finishing the easy chances. Seven games since the last loss is a great accomplishment no matter how it happens.

The Good:

Erpen was very steady for the second week in a row. He may have been at fault for the goal, but there were three or four other players who could have cleared the ball before Erpen misplayed the situation.
  • Emilio's two goals were exactly what United thought it was getting when they signed him. Someone who can make the hard stuff look easy and be a good target inside the 18 yard box.
  • Both Gros and McTavish looked very good at the back and Gros and Namoff were moving well up into the attack on the wings.
The Bad:
  • Perkins misplayed the shot which resulted in the goal. He claimed some sort of field irregularity contributed to the gaffe. If he says so...
  • Fred looked very tired during the last 15 minutes. I was shocked he wasn't subbed out as he was clearly gassed. Not really a fitness issue, but more of a "he ran until he couldn't run no more" situation.

Forwards (Dyachenko and Emilio) B+

Nice lob shot from Emilio and two fortunate bounces which were converted for three goals from the forwards.

Midfielders (Fred, Gomez, Carroll the Elder, and Olsen) A-

All the problems from the first three games are gone. No more ridiculous giveaways from Carroll, Gomez was involved in the attack and distributing well, and Fred and Olsen were pushing up the sidelines and testing the Fire's backline.

Defense (Erpen, Namoff, Gros, McTavish, and Perkins) A-

The one goal was not good, but they were dominating in the first half. The second half wasn't quite as good, but still an above average effort. Overall, their game should result in a win every week.

Subs (Adderly, Simms, and Moose) B

Another good week from Moose. Simms played fine, but Adderly looked a bit lost out there when it came to linking up passed and moving into open space.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Preview of Game 10 - DC United vs Chicago Fire

United is on a six game unbeaten streak, 4-2-0 (W-D-L), including last week's 4-2 drubbing of NYRB. DC is 3-1-1 at home this season with a +2 goal differential. DC United is in 4th place in the Eastern Conference, 6 points behind NYRB with 2 games in hand. They are in 7th place in the Supporter's Shield race, 8 points behind FC Dallas. FC Dallas has played four more games than United at this point, however.

Chicago comes to DC with only one win since April (1-1-5). Chicago is 1-1-3 on the road with a -6 goal differential. Like United, The Fire is in 4th place in the Eastern Conference, 6 behind NYRB, and in 7th place in the Supporter's Shield race with 2 games in hand.

While this rivalry doesn't have the same venom as the DC-NY matchups, this is arguably the most competitive series in United history. United looks to extend their season best results streak to seven games against a Chicago team looking for direction. Moreno will be with Bolivia for the next four games at a minimum and Boswell is out due to his double yellow last week, so changes are afoot. I expect the starting eleven to be Emilio, Kpene, Gomez, Fred, Olsen, Carroll the Elder, Erpen, McTavish, Gros, Namoff, and Perkins in the same 4-4-2 formation. Casal, Dyachenko and Moose should get in during the second half. Look for United be very aggressive early after last week's offensive output. If Kpene is fit, I see him notching his first goal and solidifying his place as Moreno's replacement.


DC United 3:0 Chicago Fire

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Game 9 - DC United 4:2 New York Red Bulls

Now that was a soccer game right from the 2004 and early 2006 archives. See the specifics below, but the overall impression was that DC saw NY as a quality opponent and brought the 'A' game from the start. And let's just say I was thrilled with Benny's performance. I have faithfully worn my #14 jersey for years and have never been prouder to do so than today. Hats off to my favorite player.

The Good:

  • Excellent flow on offense. Moreno, Gomez and Fred serviced Emilio and Olsen (!) on numerous occasions, resulting in four goals. There were at least three others which required highlight reel saves from their goalie.
  • Multiple points of attack resulted in pressure from the edges on crosses and diagonal runs, pressure up the middle on nice builds through possession passing, and long balls due to NY pressing for goals late in the game.
  • Erpen had an excellent game, especially after Boswell was sent off.

The Bad:

  • I hate doing this, but it has to be said: Brian Hall, the match official, was tremendously one sided in his calls. Boswell was sent off for two normal fouls which were nothing to look twice at and the second yellow was abysmal. There were 10 calls he didn't call on NY which were five times as physical and what you would call professional fouls. I usually like Hall's games. This was really bad.
  • Giving up the quick goal was unfortunate and when paired with the goal they gave up after saving the penalty a few games ago, leads me to think that they need to keep their concentration immediately after big events during the game.


Forwards (Emilio and Moreno) A-

Luciano and Jamie were excellent creating from the chances created by the midfielders and Jamie was great when United was reduced to ten men by keeping possession and finding the open man. Emilio tallied the second goal to end his drought and was dangerous with his back to the goal, almost scoring another on a nice pivot shot in the box.

Midfielders (Fred, Gomez, Olsen, Carroll the Elder) A

Olsen was the clear MVP with three goals. He made the most of his chances and had his most productive game in years. He seems to be much more comfortable on the wing now that he's had a few games playing there exclusively. If he and Fred can get on the same page in play interchangeably, it will make things very difficult on the opposition. Fred set up a beautiful goal and had just been robbed of another when Gomez floated his over the crossbar. Carroll was steady in a very quiet match from him other than two or three attempts on goal from distance.

Defense (Boswell, Erpen, Namoff, Gros, and Perkins) B+

Boswell was absolutely jobbed on his two cards, however Erpen raised his game after Bobby left. It bodes well for next week when Bobby will be unavailable. Gros made a beautiful cross that Olsen threw his head onto for the first goal. Just a wonderful ball. Gros and Namoff played well on the outside and Perkins was in command of the box. The first goal was off a deflection and he was not at fault. Honestly I didn't see the second goal as I was still celebrating Benny's hat trick.

Subs (Moose, McTavish, Burch) B

Moose played very well as the only sub to get more than 5 minutes. He ran well and kept the ball out of NY hands when they were desperate for goals.

Overheard in Section M-32:

After watching Brian Hall give more fouls to United, more cards to United, and then sending Boswell off, we were sure that the next logical step in the progression was a penalty to NY when they were down 2-1. Luckily United kept possession for long stretches and there was no contact in the box to give Hall a chance to screw that up too.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Game 8 - DC United 0:0 LA Galaxy

This was a game of three parts. And a boring one at that.

Part I: Why Use What Has Been Working When You Can Try Something New?

Boy, Namoff looked comfortable on the left side, huh? And whose bright idea was it to put Simms on the back line? This opening lineup was the weirdest I can remember in a long time. Everyone keeps saying that Gros is going to need a dozen games at least to get comfortable. He looked better the last few games. So the logical conclusion is what? Switch it up, of course. Namoff was awful, Simms was ineffective, and Gros was invisible. Well done by all.

Part II: Hard to Port! Full Reverse! Oh, No! We're Doomed!

So, that didn't work, so Simms to central midfield, Olsen to the wing, Namoff to the right, and Gros back to the backline on the left. This, the preferred lineup in my house, was able to settle down the defense, but there was very little in the way of offense. Fred was able to be a little dangerous, but Moreno was almost playing midfield in order to get the ball. And the giveaways were constant and maddening.

Part III: You Mean We Need To Play Offense Too?

Finally, Gomez and Fred were able to start finding Emilio and Moreno up top and push the LA defense. Nothing really dramatic, but far from the inept play of the beginning parts of the game.

Add 'em all up and you get? A scoreless draw which wasn't even as exciting as the scoreline would indicate.

Brief grades:

Forwards (Moreno and Emilio) B-

Midfielders (Olsen, Gros, Gomez, and Fred) C

Defense (Simms, Erpen, Boswell, Namoff, and Perkins) B+

Subs (Kpene, Casal, Dyachenko) C