Monday, July 30, 2007

SuperLiga Through Two Games

DC United is tied atop the Group B standings with 4 points along with Houston Dynamo. Morelia is in third with 2 points and Club America is in fourth with no points and is eliminated from advancing to the semifinals. United and Houston will go through with win, or a tie and a Morelia loss or tie, or a Morelia loss. DC and Dynamo play on Wednesday in Houston.

United has looked good in their first two games. The games appeared very similar in how they developed. DC takes an early 1-0 lead, the opposition has a player sent off, and United tries to hang on. Against Morelia, a volley from distance into the upper corner against the run of play cost United the full three points. United seemed to learn from that mistake and controlled the midfield and the pace of the game against Club America on Sunday.

I watched the game with my father-in-law, a Brazilian born soccer nut and he had some interesting comments on United's personnel. He was very impressed with Burch. His crosses were useful and he seemed to mesh well with Fred. He was very excited by the first half that Gomez had and was raving about him during the halftime. He could see Fred was very talented but still acclimating to the wing as he kept drifting to the center on occasion. Emilio had an off night, but he could see the vision. He loved Simms as a sub and wondered why he didn't start. And because I wear the #14 to all games, he took a particular interest in Olsen and saw why he is my favorite.

So this experience has caused me to look at what my "Ideal Eleven" would be at this point in the season. This assumes complete health for all players on the roster.








Carroll the Elder

So there is your 18 man game day roster. I firmly believe that group wins the Eastern Conference.

And on a side note, I hope DC United and the District officials have a plan in place to open as many parking lots as possible for the LA Galaxy game which is now sold out. Trying to force all cars through Lot 8 and letting that overflow into Lot 7 is a slow, painful process. Please, please, please open Lot 7 completely with multiple entrances. Lot 7 is gigantic, easily accessible from two exits off I-295 and always underutilized by those in charge. Have four people at each entrance to all lots taking money, not one or two. I really don't want to have to leave 2 hours early for that game to be in my seat at kickoff.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Game 16 - DC United 0:1 New York Red Bulls

Quick recap...

This result is not a surprise given the lack of personnel available. Moreno, Olsen, Namoff, Kpene, and Moose were all sidelined. So, Burch got the start along with Simms, Gros moved back to midfield, and the result was a reduced attack. Not that there weren't chances. Boswell narrowly missed twice. Addlery had a great chance as well.

Now, the missed call on Fred in the box was atrocious. His jersey was torn for goodness sake. But, I am tired of blaming officials. United was outplayed. Fred got a red for being stupid, Carroll was invisible again, and DC's depth was show to be a bit lacking at this point in the season. Hopefully the SuperLiga will be a better result.


Forward (Emilio) C
Midfielders (Fred, Gomez, Gros, Simms, and Carroll) C+
Defenders (McTAvish, Vanney, Boswell, Burch, and Perkins) B-
Subs (deRoux and Addlery) B-

Friday, July 20, 2007

Preview of Game 16 - DC United at New York Red Bulls

DC United, 7-3-5 (W-D-L), travels up the NJ Turnpike for a Sunday afternoon game looking to rebound from the second half collapse against Dallas last week. Jamie Moreno left the game with a hamstring injury and his availability is questionable. United's bench is very thin so Moreno's ability to play will be key to their chances to post three points this week. DC has been struggling on the road with a 2-1-4 record and a -2 goal differential. They are in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference (1.60 PPG), two points behind New England (1.73 PPG). They are in 5th place in the Supporter's Shield race, nine points behind Houston (1.83 PPG) with three games in hand.

NYRB (7-3-6)has won only one of their last six games (1-1-4) including last week's 1-0 loss to New England. They also only have two wins since May. Perhaps their hot start in April (3-1-0) was similar to United's cold one (0-1-3), not indicative of the real strength of the team. Midfielder Claudio Reyna has not been on form the last few weeks and was pulled early during the 4-0 drubbing by Houston two weeks ago. Juan Pablo Angel hasn't scored in four games. However, Josy Altidore should be back from the U-20 tournament and in the starting lineup which makes them a much more dangerous team. NYRB are 4-1-2 at home this season with a +9 goal differential. They are also in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference (1.50 PPG), two points behind New England, and in 5th place in the Supporter's Shield race.

United has had great success against the Red Bulls over the last few years in a very one sided rivalry. With a win, United will clinch the Atlantic Cup for the fourth straight year. Moreno and Namoff are questionable for this game and Moose is out after having groin surgery to repair a hernia. I expect the starting eleven to be Emilio, Moreno, Gomez, Fred, Olsen, Carroll the Elder, Vanney, McTavish, Gros, Boswell, and Perkins a 4-4-2 formation. Kpene and Simms should get in during the second half.

EDIT: Since Moose, Namoff, Kpene, Moreno and Olsen won't make the trip, this is going to be quite the interesting lineup. Addlery is the obvious choice to replace Moreno. The midfielder is more interesting. I'd go with Simms, but Mediate and Jeff Carroll are also options. A more remote possibility is Burch on the backline, with Gros moving to winger. What Soehn does will be very interesting. I'm actually very intrigued now as to what he does.


DC United 2:1 New York Red Bulls

EDIT: With all the substututes, new Prediction:

DC United 1:2 New York Red Bulls

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ralston: MLS Career Assist Leader

Steve Ralston moved into first place on the all time MLS career assist list this weekend with number 115, breaking his tie with Carlos Valderama.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Game 15 - DC United 3:3 FC Dallas

Let me get a few thoughts off my chest which have nothing to do with what I think caused this result.
  1. Brian Carroll doesn't get involved with the offense, he doesn't make good passes, and he doesn't track back when the defense is in trouble. And now, he doesn't mark his man and slow down his movement towards the goal. So what good is he doing on the field? To say I am not happy with his play would be a grotesque understatement. I've never been impressed with him, but I was convinced by others that he did the little things to help his team win. Nope, not buying it anymore.
  2. After being up 3:0, the team again got complacent and gave up the quick goal and that put Houston back in the game. This has to stop. Which when followed by Moreno leaving with a hammy, you could see United deflate for about 25 minutes.
  3. The referee was very questionable, but not the reason for the loss. He just made it easier for Dallas to come back. And the linesman on the Barra Brava side was horrendous. We sit even with the top of the 18 yard box at the La Norte end of the field, and watched him make mistake after mistake all game long. Painful.
Now the reason why I think United lost? We have a bigger drop off in talent from starting eleven to substitutes than at any time I can remember. There is really no question who should be in the starting lineup except for two positions where it isn't that the player on the bench is really good and pushing for minutes, but the starter is playing badly or out of position. You could argue, as I would, that Simms should start over Carroll, and that Namoff is better than McTavish and/or Gros, but when in the history of United has there been a time when there was no one on the bench you were hoping would get the call in the second half to spark the team. Now, you are hoping no subs are made in case something like tonight happens: a complete drop off in production as when Moreno was replaced by Kpene and Olsen was replaced by Simms.

The Good:
  • Emilio was tremendous. His spacing was great, his finishing was textbook, and his presence was felt all over the field.
  • Fred had another good game and is now consistently more dangerous than Gomez over the course of 90 minutes.
  • Moreno had one of his best halves of the season.
The Bad:
  • Perkins was at fault for the second and third goals. He should have charged the second goal and he misplayed the third goal by coming out and missing it.
  • Carroll, as discussed above, was an empty shirt.
  • Vanney and Boswell did not have a good game. Not sure what the problem is, but FC Dallas had wide open people in the box continuously in the last 45 minutes.

Forwards (Emilio and Moreno) A+

The two best players on the field in Black and Red.

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

Fred and Olsen were good. Gomez was okay. I'm not sure Carroll was on the field.

Defense (Boswell, Vanney, Gros, McTavish, and Perkins) C

Along with Carroll, losing the three goal lead falls to this group. No team at any level should lose a three goal advantage.

Subs (Kpene and Simms) D

Kpene wiffed on a great setup inside the box and was consistently pushed off the ball. I don't know if he is still hurt, but he didn't seem to have his normal quickness. Simms wasn't much of a factor in only a few minutes of play.

Friday, July 13, 2007

United Knocked Out of US Open Cup

I know I am late to the party commenting on this, but here is my take:
  1. I hate artificial fields. It's a different game when you play on them. The turf at Toronto's stadium isn't bad, but seriously, is it too hard to require all outdoor fields to be grass to play in MLS and in major US tournaments?
  2. I'm not sure I understand why this game was awarded to the lesser rated team. If I remember right, if the previous round's result had been reversed, United would have hosted the game. I'm not saying home field determined the result, but one of these teams just flew back from Houston and then had to bus it north to Pennsylvania. Which brings me to...
  3. If United is only going to start two of their top eleven, screw it and withdraw. I hate the fact that DC lost this game playing a bunch of scrubs. If they lost with the top lineup, fine. What a sour taste this leaves.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Game 14 - DC United 0:1 Houston Dynamo

This was a game that followed the script almost to perfection. Unfortunately it was Houston's script. United displayed an excellent possession game in both halves. It didn't lead to very many offensive chances though. Gomez had one excuse-me-shot off a free kick smack the cross bar on the bounce, and Emilio had a one-on-one chance which he put directly into Onstead's legs. And that was the offense. Defensively, United was stellar. If only Fred had stepped up with the back line offside trap or Addlery had not jumped over the shot from the top of the box, this would have been a scoreless draw. Perkins was fantastic again, Boswell and Vanney controlled the middle, and Gros and McTavish played steady on the edges.

The Good:
  • Perkins continues to excel. Only good things happen when your keeper is at the top of his game. This bodes well for the rest of the year.
  • Boswell and Vanney look good together in the middle. I'm guessing United will stay with the 4-4-2 for the rest of the season.
The Bad:
  • Olsen, Gomez, and Carroll were invisible for large stretches of the game, especially Carroll.
  • Addlery and Emilio had great difficulties controlling the ball with a defender on their back. Lots of giveaways on passes that bounced away.

Forwards (Emilio and Addlery) C

Emilio didn't convert his one chance and Addlery had none.

Midfielders (Fred, Gomez, Carroll the Elder, and Olsen) C

Full of great possession signifying nothing.

Defense (Boswell, Vanney, McTavish, Gros, and Perkins) A

Perkins had no chance to react to the deflection, but otherwise the defense was first rate. I only wish they wouldn't clear crosses to the top of the box so often. I don't think it led directly to the goal, but if that had gone to the side or out of bounds, things may have turned out differently.

Subs (Burch, Simms, and Dyachenko) C+

Another ineffective performance at forward for Dyachenko. Simms was fine in limited action, Burch looked pretty good moving forward pressing for the equalizer.
Steve Ralston Ties MLS Assist Record

Steve Ralston assisted on New England's lone goal to tie Carlos Valderama's record of 114. Ralston, Cobi Jones (87), and Jamie Moreno (84) are the only active players in the top 10 for career assists.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Preview of Game 14 - DC United at Houston Dynamo

DC United, 7-2-4 (W-D-L), moves on to Houston for a Sunday night match. United should have some of their walking wounded and Copa America players back for this match. Boswell, Namoff, and Kpene should be available. It is not yet certain if Moreno and Olsen will make the trip. DC is 2-1-3 on the road with a -1 goal differential. They are in 1st place in the Eastern Conference (1.77 PPG), one point ahead of New England (1.69 PPG). They are in 3rd place in the Supporter's Shield race, six points behind FC Dallas (1.71 PPG) with four games in hand.

Houston is red hot after spanking New York on Thursday 4-0. Brian Ching leads this well oiled offensive machine which recently added Nate Jaqua from LA. They score a ton at home (13) and have only allowed four goals in eight games. The Dynamo are 5-1-2 at home this season with a +9 goal differential. They are in 2nd place in the Western Conference (1.73 PPG), three points behind FC Dallas, and in 2nd place in the Supporter's Shield race.

United stole one on Wednesday and Houston will be ready. They are at full strength and are playing well, unbeaten in their last seven while only allowing three goals. If Boswell, Namoff, Vanney, and Gros play well, United has a good chance to draw with Houston. However, that is a tough task as this will be the first time they will have played together. I expect the starting eleven to be Emilio, Addlery, Gomez, Fred, Moose, Carroll the Elder, Vanney, Boswell, Gros, Namoff, and Perkins a 4-4-2 formation. Moose, Dyachenko and Simms should get in during the second half.


DC United 1:2 Houston FC

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Game 13 - DC United 1:0 Kansas City Wizards

DC United pulled out a well earned three points on the road this week to move into first place in the Eastern Conference for at least one day. United also now has the most points per game in MLS. FC Dallas has played four extra games and has 29 points, but their PPG of 1.71 is less than United's 1.77.

United was without four starters and was able to play just enough defense and convert one goal scoring opportunity to record their first shutout of the season, a 1-0 win over a very tough Kansas City. With none of the defenders on the field who started the season, United looked to veteran newcomer Greg Vanney to solidify the back line. However, the combination of McTavish and Perkins were the stars of the game as they deflected a dozen solid chances by the Wizards offense.

The Good:

  • Excellent positioning by Perkins. He was quick in his decision making, and he was able to make himself big and reduce the open area the Wizards had to shoot into.
  • McTavish was able to make up ground and get in the way of open shooters and had at least three sliding blocks of players with an open net to shoot into.
  • The Brazilians, Emilio and Fred, showed great poise in creating and finishing the lone goal of the game.
The Bad:

  • The midfield continues to have trouble maintaining possession. Giveaways in the center of the field were prevelant and resulted in immediate counters that put the defense in terrible positions.
  • Vanney was not the smooth operator he was advertised as. And one particularly bad giveaway should have resulted in a goal. Hopefully this will work itself out over the next few games.

Forwards (Emilio and Addlery) B

Emilio extends his goal scoring streak to five consecutive and does it in traffic. An amazing bit of skill from him. Addlery had a disappointing game following his Player of the Week honor.

Midfielders (Fred, Gomez, Moose, and Carroll the Elder) C+

Fred was the most dangerous player on the field for United, and Gomez played well with several darting runs through the midfield. Moose was erratic and deserved the midgame benching. Carroll was good defensively, but almost invisible when United had possession.

Defense (Gros, McTavish, Simms, Vanney, and Perkins) A-

Hopefully, this is the last time we see this particular back line. Boswell should be back soon and Namoff as well. But, for all it's difficulties, a clean sheet speaks for itself. Well done.

Subs (Mediate, Dyachenko, and DeRoux) B-

Mediate was passable as a replacement for Moose on the left wing. Dyachenko and DeRoux didn't make an impression.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Moreno Scores at the Copa

Monday, July 02, 2007

Casal Released

As reported elsewhere, DC United has cut ties with Kasali Yinka Casal, the 19 year old Englishman. He played very little for the team and counted $40,000 against the cap. So three changes in the last week. I'm still looking for signs of an overall plan. I can be patient. Really, no rush.
Preview of Game 13 - DC United at Kansas City

DC United, 6-2-4 (W-D-L), travels to Kansas City for a Wednesday afternoon game looking to improve upon their pitiful road record. United will continue to be shorthanded with Boswell, Olsen, and Moreno missing due to Copa America national team duty and Namoff and Kpene questionable due to injury. DC is 1-1-3 on the road with a -2 goal differential. They are in 4th place in the Eastern Conference (1.67 PPG), two points behind New England (1.69 PPG) with one game in hand. They are in 6th place in the Supporter's Shield race, six points behind FC Dallas (1.63 PPG) with four games in hand.

Kansas City welcomes DC to on a four game winless streak (0-2-2) including last week's 1-1 draw with Toronto FC. The Wizards are 3-1-2 at home this season with a +3 goal differential. They are in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference (1.62 PPG), one point behind New England, and in 4th place in the Supporter's Shield race.

United only posted three of six points in their two games against the worst MLS has to offer. Now comes the hard part. Going to Kansas City short handed is always a tough prospect. Fortunately, Kansas City is not at full strength either. United killer, Eddie Johnson, is in Venezuela. Greg Vanney will make his first start with United, possibly on the left side of the back line. With Boswell, Olsen, and Moreno out of the country, I expect the starting eleven to be Emilio, Addlery, Gomez, Fred, Moose, Carroll the Elder, Vanney, McTavish, Gros, Namoff, and Perkins a 4-4-2 formation. Dyachenko and Simms should get in during the second half.

Remember, this is a 1 PM Wednesday start. Don't forget to program your DVRs if you won't be home in the afternoon on the 4th.


DC United 1:1 Kansas City Wizards