I'll get to Golden Balls in a bit. First let's do a proper United Recap shall we? GOD DAMN OUR FINISHING DISEASE!!! Seriously. Benny and Emiligol both had wide open chances in the first 15 minutes and failed to put them on frame. We should have been 2-0 up and cruising at that point. The real shame is that we weren't getting enough shots on goal as Emiligol showed that good things happen when you put the keeper under pressure. Instead, we've got a lot of blazing over the bar and holding the ball too long. Of course, LA do suck, so United still managed to make the one goal stand, which is actually a big mental hurdle to clear with the way that LA has spanked us at home recently.
Their failure to do so tonight is due in no small part to the Crew Castaways (Buddle & Martino) doing their best to demonstrate to the visiting Steve McClaren just how terrible American finishing can get. Oh, and Mr. Marufo pitched in to save the win with his non-call on the PK-worthy WWF takedown of Captain Kissypants by McTavish. The United defense is still making these brain-dead mistakes and missed clearances that lead to far too many chances conceded. Luckily, Perkins was in fairly good form tonight and managed to clean up most of the messes.
Tactically, Tommy Soehn made a pretty astute switch at the half in swapping Fred and Olsen. Fred wasn't having much success on the inside, and as soon as he went outside, he seemed to play with much greater confidence. Enough so that Martino lunged in to take him out and saw red for his efforts. Still, Fred's influence grew throughout the second and he was unlucky not to get at least one assist.
On the other wing, Josh Gros seemed to be making up for lost time spent in defense as he was getting forward at every opportunity. I don't think I've ever seen him play this high up the pitch before. Maybe, without a whole wing to deal with (as Burch takes the defensive responsibilities), he doesn't know what to do with his excess energy and sort of ends up in more forward positions by default. Now, if only he'd learn to cross and make decisions more quickly.
Speaking of quickness, or rather the lack thereof, let's talk about Jaime. Honestly, he slowed down the attack so much and dwelled on the ball so long that I was going nuts shouting at him to speed things up. He did create a few chances and even had a couple of his own, but where is the Jaime of the Copa? On another Jaime note - I'm almost glad he didn't break the MLS scoring record tonight, as it would have been tainted with all of the attention falling on a certain Mr. Beckham.
And that brings us to what I'm sure will be on everyone's lips. The Debut finally happened, with the man himself trotted out for 20 minutes at the end of the game. Thank goodness he finally did get in the game as we were missing whole swathes of live action to watch him warming up on the sidelines! The Golden One had a few good passes that led to chances thwarted by Perkins coming off of his line. Not a bad debut and he didn't look to be suffering too terribly from the injury. Applauding the fans as he left was nice to see as well.
While we're on the leaving bit - what's the deal with the second jersey? The old hobo tramp Benny Olsen (hope he didn't do anything too serious to the hammy!) scored the game jersey, but the Beckham-minions were on the spot to dish the Anointed One a spare to put on for the cameras. What's up with that? Speculation #1 - marketroids from MLS, Adidas, Herbalife, or all of the above insist that he always be seen wearing their product when he's appearing on their dime. Speculation #2 - gotta keep the tats hidden from the kiddies and soccer moms cause this is a "family game", according to the Grand Poobah Brainiacs at craptacular MLS HQ.
Ugh. Well - at least it's over. Now maybe we can get on with the business of an exciting close to the season and dramatic run up to MLS Cup 2007. Right? Please? Oh, okay. Beckham, Beckham, Beckham . . .