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

Game 21 - DC United 1:0 Toronto FC

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.

The Good:
  • 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 Bad:
  • 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

Preview of Game 21 - DC United at Toronto FC

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

Game 20 - DC United 3:1 New York Red Bulls

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.

The Good:

  • 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 Bad:

  • 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

Jamie Moreno - MLS All-Time Goals Scored Leader

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

Preview of Game 20 - DC United vs New York Red Bulls

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, 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

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Game 19 - DC United 2:0 Columbus Crew

I said United needed at least five points out of the twelve available in the four road games coming up in the next few weeks. United did an excellent job of getting the first goal, keeping possession, and finally scoring the second goal to seal the game. DC's talent advantage was apparent all game and overwhelming in the second half. Fred had possibly his best game in the Black and Red. Gomez looked better than he has in a month. The defense pitched another shutout, held the Crew without a shot on goal in the first forty-five minutes, and Burch was dominant on the left side. With Boswell and Olsen getting a rare healthy scratch, this bodes well for the many games coming up in the next few weeks.

The Good:
  • A second goal to go up 2-0. First in New England and now in Columbus, maybe United is figuring out this road thing.
  • Emilio notches another with a heady play on our old friend Ezra.
  • Fred scores from distance after Gomez hits the post. It seems like a rare play to have a ball go off the post and still score in the run of play. Fred's shot was absolutely crushed.
  • Simms returns to the starting lineup, this better not change.
The Bad:
  • Vanney still looks a bit shaky, but not a bad game from him.
  • A weak offensive effort in the first half.
  • Gros suffers another concussion. He may have to sit for a while.

Forwards (Emilio and Moreno) A-

Emilio scores his 14th goal and Moreno plays 86 minutes. Luciano did lots of running to seal the game.

Midfielders (Gomez, Fred, Simms, and Gros) A-

Best game from this group in a while. Excellent possession in the second half. Gomez hits the post and Fred cleans it up. Fred then slots a great pass that Emilio put 5-hole for the second goal. Simms played a great game. The lone dark spot was Gros leaving early.

Defenders (Burch, Namoff, McTavish, Vanney and Perkins) A

Another shutout, another 'A'. Spectacular game from this group. Controlled the air, intercepted crosses before they got to the middle, and Perkins was decisive and agressive.

Substitutes (Mediate, Carroll, and Dyachenko) B

Mediate did very well subbing in for Gros in the 9th minute. Carroll and Dyachenko didn't make an impression in limited minutes.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Preview of Game 19 - DC United at Columbus Crew

DC United, 9-3-6 (W-D-L), head to Columbus for an MLS matchup with the Crew. United lost to the Galaxy in the semifinals of the SuperLiga on Wednesday in LA. However, in MLS play United is on a near-month long winning streak! (OK, it's only two games, but still, it sounds good.) United is looking to build on their last road game, a 3-0 pasting of New England. For the season, United is 3-1-5 (W-D-L) on the road with an even goal differential. United (1.67 PPG) is in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference, six points behind New England (1.71 PPG) with three games in hand. United is in 3rd place in the Supporter Shield race, led by New England and FC Dallas (1.80 PPG). United has two games in hand over Houston.

The Crew, 6-8-6 (W-D-L), are 1-1-1 in their last three games including last week's 3-2 loss to FC Dallas. Columbus are a very good home team with a 5-4-1 record and a +6 goal differential. They are in 5th place in the Eastern Conference (1.30 PPG), ten points behind New England with one game in hand, and in 8th place in the Supporter's Shield race.

United lost to the Crew back in April, 1-0. United should be completely healthy with no one out due to cards. Hopefully the coaching staff saw what the rest of us saw and Simms will return to the starting lineup. I expect the starting eleven to be Emilio, Moreno, Gomez, Fred, Olsen, Simms, Namoff, Burch, McTavish, Boswell, and Perkins a 4-4-2 formation. Carroll, Gros, Kpene and Moose all could get in during the second half. This begins the toughest stretch of the season remaining. United has four of the next five on the road. If they can pull more than five points out of those four road games, United has a real shot at the Supporter's Shield.


DC United 1:0 Columbus Crew

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

SuperLiga Semifinal

Let's try a running diary for this game which seems all the rage on the Internet these days...

I hate the starting eleven. Vanney and Carroll in the midfield will seriously slow down the attack.

Hard tackle by Beckham on Moreno. No ill intent. Yellow for Beckham was deserved.

Moreno almost beat Cannon from midfield. If the shot was in a corner rather than the middle, it would have gone in. That's an Etcheverry move.

Carroll is giving the ball away constantly, as per usual.

Hard tackle by Olsen on Beckham. Poking the ball first saved Benny from a yellow of his own.

This portion of the blog brought to you by Heineken.

Beckham's free kick was beautiful. It's much harder to stop it when you step the wrong way, Troy. Were you guessing?

Moreno is shoved off the ball in the box, that should have been a penalty.

Beckham is playing much better tonight than last Thursday. He is moving well and seeing the field. Not good for United.

36th minute. Carroll just kicked it into a Galaxy player's back from 6 yards away. He never looked up. Dreadful.

McTavish got away with a take down in the box. Also should have been a penalty.

Moreno came up hobbling after getting legs tangled. Eek.

Halftime: Gomez and Simms better be on the field at the start of the second half.

The first half was end to end action with lots of long passes and near misses. What was noticeably missing was any kind of possession. The midfield is not playing up to snuff.

Beckham is still playing at the start of the second 45. Good for MLS, bad for United.

Gomez is on for Vanney. No sign of Simms. Carrol wasn't traded at halftime for a bag of balls either.

Beckham sets up Donovan for a breakaway goal. Gros completely crapped the bed on that one slowing down and missing the ball while Landon ran past him. Then McTavish deflects it around Perkins who was in good position. A tough prospect just got tougher.

Emilio narrowly misses a goal. Nice reflex save from Cannon.

Cannon is on fire. He stops Emilio again point blank.

Audio problems are still annoying when they are speaking Spanish and you can't understand 90% of what they say.

Telefutura has resorted to showing every good looking Hispanic woman in the stands. Not a complaint, more of an observation.

This portion of the blog brought to you by State Farm.

Beckham just hit Donovan again wide open running down the wing. That's four times and one goal.

Free kick for LA. Beautiful save from Perkins on another bending ball from Becks.

More pretty women in the stands.

Carroll had his best play of the game so far chopping Martino down at midfield. He's running to the sideline. Could he be coming off? No, just instructions from the coach. An excerpt:

Sohen: You know all the stuff you've been doing so far tonight?

Carroll: Yeah?

Sohen: Quit it.

Looks like Kpene is next to come on. You know who I want him to come on for.

Emilio taken down inches outside the box. Really close to a penalty.

Beckham comes off after playing 62 minutes. He played a great game. Let's see if United can get things going now.

Galaxy just missed the third goal.

Wow, Kpene in for Boswell. He would have been tenth on my list of players to come off, right before Perkins. Moreno back to midfield it looks like and down to three defenders with Gros tracking back a lot and Namoff moving up.

Is it just me or can Fred only cross with his right? He just missed Emilio with a beautiful one, but to put it on his right foot from the left side, he needed to cut back and gave the defense time to adjust.

Twenty minutes to go. United needs a goal soon to have a chance.

Cobi Jones comes on for Martino. Didn't we have a moment of silence for the late Cobi at the game last Thursday?

Olsen has been surprisingly ineffective tonight.

Lots of crosses from the touchline going over everyone's head and out of bounds.

ATeleuturra wants us to vorte for the game MVP. I'm voting for D: Otro Jugador. I think he plays midfield for Galaxy.

Carroll just rocketed a shot from 35 yards away which Cannon pushed over the bar. He scored on one of those early last year. Coincidentally, his last good shot.

More women in the stands. This is great. I'm used to coach's wives or hot actresses dating/married to players. Random LA hotties is a nice change of pace. Well done Telefutura. Now please fix your sound issues and well get along just fine.

Gomez goes down in the box from a forearm in the back. Play on.

Xavier is an angry young man. Always with the yelling that guy.

Ten minutes to go. No pulse. Someone call 911!

Five minutes to go. Beginning CPR.

Four minuted to go. A Moose sighting!


Time of death, 11:59 PM.

DC United 0:2 LA Galaxy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Preview of SuperLiga Game 4 - DC United @ LA Galaxy

DC United travels to Los Angeles for a semifinal match against David Beckham and the Galaxy. If it seems like we just watched this game, well we did last Thursday. United won 1-0 on an Emilio goal. In the meantime, LA went to New England and lost another game 1-0 with Becks not setting foot on the field. The word on the street is that the man from England will start this one, his first start in any game since joining MLS. So get a nap in if you are in the DC area as this one starts late, 10 PM Eastern.

Other than Moose, whose name hasn't surfaced since his surgery, and Burch, who is out due to yellow card accumulation, everyone should be available. That being the case, I expect the starting lineup to be Perkins, Boswell, McTavish, Vanney, Namoff, Fred, Olsen, Gomez, Simms, Emilio, and Moreno. Kpene, Gros, and Carroll should get time in the second half.


DC United 2:1 LA Galaxy
Two Months To Go - A Look Ahead

A very crowded schedule awaits DC United as they head into the final third of their regular season schedule. DC has put itself in fine position for a run to the playoffs, but the next four weeks may determine everything. While they have been dominating at home, on the road, DC is far from the same team. Their goal scoring (8 goals in 9 road games) and overall record of 3-1-5 (W-D-L), leave much to be desired and if they aren't able to correct the trend, the last month may be a drive to make the playoffs, not push for the Conference title or the Supporter's Shield, both of which are within reach. United has seven games in the next four weeks, six of which are MLS league games. Of those six games, four are road games. United will need to average 1.5 PPG in the road games and 2 PPG for the home games to keep pace with league leading New England and FC Dallas (1.80 PPG). Should they do that, DC will be at 51 points at the end of the regular season. New England and FC Dallas only need to average 1.5 points per game to reach 51 points. So the thought here is that it is a race to 54 points for the Supporter's Shield.

So looking ahead, here is how DC United gets the 24 points necessary by October 20th. Six games at home, six games on the road.

8/18 @Columbus W
8/22 NYRB W
8/25 @Toronto T
9/1 @ Dallas L
9/6 @ Chivas T
9/9 New England T
9/12 Real Salt Lake W
9/23 @ Chicago W
9/29 Toronto W
10/5 @ Kansas City L
10/13 Chicago W
10/20 Columbus W

So United needs to win seven and tie three out of twelve to get to 24 points. Looking at the schedule, it is possible, but not probable. United would need to really take advantage of the five out of seven at home to finish the season. Most likely United slips up a bit and loses three of the road games and one at home.

Since MLS went to the thirty game schedule, here are the point totals for the top three finishers. In 2006: 55, 52, and 48. In 2005: 64, 59, and 54. In 2004: 49, 49, and 43. In 2003: 53, 51, and 45.

My guess right now is United will finish with 50 points and in third place in the full table. From the three losses way back in April that started the season, that's a fine place to be heading into the playoffs.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Game 18 - DC United 1:0 LA Galaxy

There are three different story lines following this game.

DC United moves into second place in the Eastern Conference and remains a Juggernaut at home. As bad as United has been on the road this year, they have been that good at home. More than two and a half goald per game, only one loss on the year, and a ten game unbeaten streak in all competitions. So, this makes winning the Eastern Conference even more important. Home field advantage could mean everything come the playoffs.

United's red card luck continues. This makes three of four where United is up 1-0 and is the beneficiary of an opponent's red card. Two of three they have won the game 1-0 and one 1-1 tie. This will not continue. Combine this with DC's recent run of futility near the goal and it could go bad for United if they can't muster the second goal on a semi regular basis.

A spectacular night for soccer at RFK caused me to wonder what the night would have been like at a soccer specific stadium like the one proposed at Poplar Point. If instead of 30,000 extra seats, there were only 7,000 extra seats, the demand would have been enormous. This is what United needs to move to the next level in the local sports pecking order. If on a normal night, you couldn't get good seats by walking up to the stadium, more people would buy tickets in advance. If on a good night, the game might sell out, even more people would buy tickets in advance. If more than a few games sell out, more people will buy season tickets. None of that happens when there are 15,000-30,000 tickets available every night.


Forwards (Emilio and Kpene) B-

Emilio nets a great goal but leaves a few on the field. Kpene looked better and dangerous.

Midfielders (Fred, Simms, Olsen, and Gros) B

Fred seemed a bit out of sorts in the first half sending passes with the wrong pace or just struck badly. He looked much better back on the wing with Olsen in the middle. Gros was very good, if not dangerous. With Burch in the back and Gros on the wing, United is better. Unfortunately for Josh, when Gomez is healthy, he is odd man out I think. Simms was consistent and defended well.

Defenders (Boswell, Namoff, McTavish, Brurch, and Perkins) A

Boswell was a beast marking Landon. Burch was great again and set up the lone goal with a very nice pass. Namoff and Mctavish I have no specific memories of, which for defenders is a good thing. Perkins was in complete control.

Substitutes (Moreno, Carroll, and Mediate) B

Moreno nearly had #109 and looked better than last week. Carroll and Mediate did nothing of note.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Game 18 Quick Comments

Now that was a fun and frustrating night. A spectacular crowd, which reminded me of the crowds that would arrive when Michael Jordan would arrive in town with the Bulls. They wanted their team to win, but wanted MJ to score 50. Well, another #23 arrived in town and his every move was watched with eyes and binoculars, recorded with cameras, and screamed at when he did something new (warm up, put on his jersey, take off his jersey).

Thank goodness Emilio put away one of his half dozen chances because he and the rest of United couldn't hit the net tonight. United deserved to win, but they were awful at finishing.

Full recap tomorrow...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Preview of Game 18 - DC United vs LA Galaxy

DC United, 8-3-6 (W-D-L), come home for a Thursday night game against LA on national television. The big question is: Will David Beckham Play? The answer is probably not, and he probably shouldn't. I will be disappointed if he doesn't play like everyone else who has a ticket to this sold out game. But, the man is clearly injured. He did everything he could to play for Real Madrid when they needed him to secure the league title. I have to believe he is very aware of the criticism he and his team are receiving and if he could play, he would play. Maybe he makes a token appearance in the second half, but I hope it is only if he is healthy enough to do so. He signed a five year contract and will be coming back to DC every year. I for one will give the man a break and hope he is healthy enough to help the league expand it's reach later this year. If he can inspire one or two internationals, like Shevchenko, to come to MLS this winter, he will have succeeded in my mind, regardless of what he contributes on the field.

DC United looks to capitalize on its surprising and dominating win over Eastern Conference leading New England with four starters unavailable. Everyone trained this week, but Moreno (back) and Gomez (thigh) are still questionable. United has been very strong at home this season with a 5-2-1 (W-D-L) record and a +7 goal differential. United averages 2.63 goals per game at home in league play. They are in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference (1.59 PPG), six points behind New England (1.74 PPG) with two games in hand. They are in 5th place in the Supporter's Shield race, seven points behind Houston (1.70 PPG) with three games in hand.

The Galaxy, 3-5-5 (W-D-L), have only played three league games since the end of June (1-2-0) including Sunday's 0-0 tie with Toronto, and have played only thirteen league games all season. LA are 0-3-2 on the road season with a -3 goal differential. They are in 5th place in the Western Conference (1.08 PPG), twenty points behind Houston with seven (!) games in hand, and in 12th place in the Supporter's Shield race.

United and the Galaxy tied their only meeting this year, 0-0 in LA. United will should have everyone available, if not in the starting lineup. I expect the starting eleven to be Emilio, Kpene, Gomez, Fred, Olsen, Simms, Namoff, Burch, McTavish, Boswell, and Perkins a 4-4-2 formation. Carroll, Gros, and Moreno should get in during the second half. Beckham or no, United should outclass the Galaxy and build on their impressive victory in New England.


DC United 3:1 LA Galaxy

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Game 17 - DC United 3:0 New England Revolution

I have to say, I was not optimistic when I saw United's starting lineup. No Gomez, no Moreno, no Fred, and Dyachenko in the #10 spot. Where were the goals going to come from?

Turns out there was nothing to worry about as United scored three of them. So let's talk about the goals, as notable things happened on all of them. On the first goal, it seemed to me after watching the replay that for a split second, Matt Reis, the Revolution keeper, had his hand on the top of the ball before Josh Gros poked it away and into the goal. So what is the rule? According to the FIFA Laws of the Game, it is as follows:
The goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball by touching it with any part of his hand or arms. Possession of the ball includes the goalkeeper deliberately parrying the ball, but does not include the circumstances where, in the opinion of the referee, the ball rebounds accidentally from the goalkeeper, for example after he has made a save.

So, it would seem to me that however brief it was, Reis was touching the ball with his hand a fraction of a second before Gros kicked it. United got lucky.

On the second goal, Kpene and Emilio executed flawlessly on a play from the middle of ther field. I can't remember the last time DC scored on a pass liker this. Beautiful.

The third goal is a mystery to me. Why you ask? It's because Comcast was showing player reactions instead of the quick restart by Emilio. His give and go with Olsen was a thing of beauty on replay, but we never saw the overhead view which would show if Emilio was onside on the return pass. This was a real problem during the game, especially during the second half. We didn't see the short free kick on the end line which the Revs almost scored on. So, was Emilio offside? No idea. However, onside or not, he took a well timed shot which went in despite the deflection by Reis. Come on, Comcast. You're better than that.

The Good:
  • Emilio notches two and plays well for the whole 90 minutes. He is now tied for the league lead in goals scored with Eddie Johnson.
  • Burch, Boswell, McTavish, and Namoff is a nice back line. Who goes off when Vanney heals up?
  • Even with all the midfielders and forwards unavailable, Brian Carroll is left out of the starting lineup. I call that significant and about time. Simms played well, and he was light years ahead of what Carroll had done recently.
  • Perkins was excellent, and played with a command that bodes well for the rest of the season.
The Bad:

  • Moreno leaves after 30 minutes due to back issues. Let's hope it was just a tweak.
  • Olsen gets another silly yellow card. Just a moronic play by Benny. I will be thinking of that one when the inevitable suspension due to yellow card accumulation happens sometime in September.

Forwards (Emilio and Kpene) A-

Kpene looked very good in 45 minutes of play. He seems to be almost fully fit. And Emilio, as mentioned above, was fantastic.

Midfielders (Dyachenko, Gros, Simms, and Olsen) B

Let's hope we don't get to the point where Dyachenko plays the attacking midfielder role again. Not that he was horrible, but he played far from inspiring soccer. Gros played nicely on the left and Olsen was adequate on the right. Simms seemed in control in the middle. Good game from this crew.

Defenders: (McTavish, Burch, Boswell, Namoff, and Perkins) A

A shutout speaks for itself. If Burch doesn't continue to start, Soehn and I will have a problem.

Substitutes: (Moreno, Carroll, and Mediate) C

Moreno still is suffering from a failure to make quick decisions which I think are directly related to how he is feeling. The healthier he feels, the more decisive he is. He seems to hold the ball much longer when he is not 100%. Today he was dispossessed a lot after dribbling into trouble. Carroll was not a factor and Mediate didn't make an impression either.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Preview of Game 17 - DC United at New England Revolution

DC United, 7-3-6 (W-D-L), heads to New England for a Sunday afternoon matchup with the Eastern Conference leading Revolution. DC continues to struggle on the road with a 2-1-5 record and a -3 goal differential. United averages 0.63 goals per game on the road in league play. They have been shut out four different times as well. Jamie Moreno and Guy-Roland Kpene should both be available to play the full 90, so United should have a more potent offense than they have been able to trot out there recently. They are in 5th place in the Eastern Conference (1.50 PPG), nine points behind New England (1.83 PPG) with two games in hand. They are in 8th place in the Supporter's Shield race, ten points behind Houston (1.79 PPG) with three games in hand.

New England (9-6-3) are unbeaten in their last six games (4-2-0) including Thursday's 2-0 win against Kansas City. The Revs are 4-4-1 at home this season with a +10 goal differential. They are in 1st place in the Eastern Conference (1.83 PPG), four points clear of Kansas City with one game in hand, and in 2nd place in the Supporter's Shield race, one point behind Houston.

United and the Revs tied their only meeting this year, 1-1 at RFK. United will be very tired as this is their 5th game in fifteen days. With Moreno, Kpene and Namoff available and Vanney quesionable and, I expect the starting eleven to be Emilio, Moreno, Gomez, Fred, Olsen, Carroll the Elder, Namoff, Burch, Gros, Boswell, and Perkins a 4-4-2 formation. Kpene and Simms should get in during the second half. I'd prefer to see Simms in place of Carroll, but I'm not hopeful.


DC United 1:1 New England Revolution

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

SuperLiga Game 3 - DC United 0:1 Houston Dynamo

What to take from the loss:

  1. DC United needs Moreno on the field. I don't know if it is him or the rest of the team, but when he is on the field, everything seems to flow more smoothly.
  2. Moreno took a cheap shot in the box from behind right in front of the referee. Should have been a penalty.
  3. Direct evidence of why Boswell isn't a forward. Swing and a miss!
  4. Kpene isn't nearly as skilled as I thought he was earlier in the year.
  5. Carroll still hasn't played a good game this year, regardless of the competition. He was finally subbed out by Simms with under ten minutes to play. I just don't know what the coaches see in Carroll.
  6. I'm not sure who hired the officials for these games, but they have been consistently one sided. Game one was pathetic at 22-6 for fouls, game two was better at 18-15 against DC, game three was 20-15.

EDIT: With the Club America win over Morelia, United is through to the semifinals.