Or, more specifically, a lack thereof on the part of both Toms. Thomas Rongen's U-20 side, pegged back by a scrappy goal against the run of play at the close of the first half after having the better of the play in the first 45, never managed to adapt to the change made by the Austrian side coming into the second half and they ultimately paid for it. Tommy Soehn's United, even while leaping out to a three-goal advantage, always seemed to be in danger of conceding and got their goals on the counter. United, having gone in front by a big margin, were still content to play an open, frenetic game that allowed chances on both ends instead of compacting the midfield and maintaining possession to kill the game off.
Let's start with the U-20's. It looked like the US was going to dominate this match early as they were playing some nice passes and working the ball effectively down the wings, while giving up little to the Austrian attack. But the US seemed to fade after Altidore's opener and Austria went from strength to strength. They started to pepper the goal from distance - an obvious ploy given the weather conditions, but one which the US was either unwilling, or unable, to carry out effectively themselves. When the Austrians switched to a more attacking formation, pushing players up in support of their striker, the US just couldn't seem to adapt and wrest back control of the game. Maybe some of that comes down to the fact that their central mids and defenders were starting to pile up the cards, prohibiting them from playing the aggressive, physical style they prefer.
As for United, they just never seemed to come to terms with the fact that while they were scoring goals, Dallas had the run of play and just never seemed to find the final ball. United scored on counters created by Dallas pushing forward too much into the attack since they were seeing so much of the ball. When Moreno had to leave with an injury, United's effectiveness on the counter evaporated (with one exception - more later). Still, Perkins will take the blame for failing to deal with crosses on the first and third Dallas goals, though I still think the first can be attributed to the awful ref, who called a non-existant foul on Benny Olsen that simultaneously killed a United counterattack and lead to their opener.
Now a bit more on that counter exception I referenced earlier. When I was watching warmups, the DC attackers and midfielders were taking first-time shots from layoffs around the 18. Gomez may have put in one or two, though he spent most of the drill working on free-kicks from the corners of the box. Moreno and Fred each scored a few and Emiligol was banging them in at around 70-80% scored, but I don't think anybody else scored. Nobody. Including of course, Guy-Roland Kpene. For all that he brings to the pitch for United, the goals are just not coming and that's a problem. When United's counter gave him the chance to put the game away, one-on-one with the keeper, his attempt was saved. I hope that the elusive first is just around the corner for him, but based on what I was seeing in the pre-game, he may just be missing the "finisher" chromosome that sets great predators like Emiligol apart.
So, a disappointing weekend all around. At least my daughter got to see a lot of goals and a wide open game in her first trip to RFK, though she was running out of steam right around the same time Moreno went off and everything went sour for United. Next week brings a visit to the Swamp, which always seems to be the cure for what ails the Black-and-Red. The Bulls will be missing Angel to suspension, but they'll have Altidore back in the fold after an excellent run with the U-20's. They're struggling and desperate, so it should be a pretty decent battle, though the turf and refs will probably do something to ruin it. Ah pessimism, my old friend, I see you've come around again. Ugh.