Well, the happy dance had to come to a close at some point didn't it? United looked to be in the same unstoppable, steamroller form that they've ridden hard through the last month or so as they built a two goal cushion in the early going. But just when things were looking rosiest and Chivas were in disarray, the Perkins debacle gifted them a goal and the wheels fell off. Chivas have never gotten a result against United and the two early goals seemed to have killed their spirit, but getting a goal back renewed their confidence and they proved that their own status as the second hottest team in the league is no fluke.
Despite Chivas' dominance from that point on, they only managed to find one more goal and United held on for a draw. On the positive side for United, Luci's back on top of the Golden Boot race with a brace, United are now in sole possession of the top spot in the league, and they managed a draw away to a team in good form that doesn't lose at home. But what's all this Reagan-esque "mistakes were made" jive I'm on about? Who made those mistakes? Well, just about everybody, as I'll elucidate now . . .
1. DC United - Don't you hate it when cliché's come true? "Most dangerous lead in soccer" my ass, but didn't it just prove true to form last night? Fortunately, while Perkins looked understandably shaky in the aftermath of his howler, he did seem to recover as the game progressed. The same can't be said of United's defending. Not that the blame falls on the back line entirely.
United is a possession team, but when your midfielders are consistently giving the ball away cheaply (Fred in particular had an awful passing night), you set yourself up to fail. This is really galling given that United's players seemed to be aware (in pre-game comments) that Chivas lives on the counter. Then they go and gift them numerous opportunities to do just that. Worryingly, the speed issue that haunted United early this season also seemed to be back with a vengeance. You remember, when the opposition kicks into a higher gear and United just can't keep pace?
2. The Coaches - Before we dismiss United with a severe scolding, let's not spare Tommy Soehn. It's hard to be critical after a six-game win streak . . . who am I kidding? Once again, Soehn fails to make adjustments until it's too late. The pre-game planning seemed to be spot on as United jumped out early and looked to be in control, but when things started to go wrong, he was at a loss for answers or unwilling to pull the trigger on making changes. Speaking of changes - I'm wondering why the starting lineup was unchanged. Tommy admitted that the team looked spent in the first half during the post-game, which leaves me wondering why we didn't trot out some of the reserves either in starting roles or as earlier substitutes when things started to turn sour.
Fortunately for United, Preki pulled a trigger he probably shouldn't have. As soon as Nuñez replaced Razov, Chivas stalled, sputtered, and died, thick black smoke spiraling up from the wreckage. What had been a dangerous attacking force that looked likely to march on to the three points suddenly dried up as the game devolved into a tense, nervous Wild West standoff in the dusty street outside the Toolbox Saloon.
3. The Officials - Stott was his usual, awful, reject from a "Grease" casting-call self. There's something to be said for allowing the game to flow, but not when it means that the undercurrent of violence keeps building until a sudden flurry of yellows isn't enough to stem the tide. You could tell that he was eager to be the center of attention with his mistaken display of the red to Vanney. He was just itching to send somebody off. Or maybe just itching in general? Those greasy locks look like they might harbor a colony of something nasty and gnawing, be it parasite or scalp disease.
Luckily, Stott copped to his mistake, though the Union of Concerned Referees may revoke his membership for daring to do so. Didn't he get the memo that officials are infallible? Also luckily for United, the linesman absolutely blew an offside call late on that probably would have resulted in a stoppage-time winner for Chivas. "Instant Karma" for Stott's incompetence in the rest of the match? "We all shine on" indeed. Well, except for one notable exception . . .
4. ESPN - Okay, let's ignore the intrusion of pointy-ball that nixed the first 10 minutes for a moment. That's de rigueur for these clowns. How about the outage late in the game where we're forced to endure a Bataan Death March of pointy-ball and Beckham till somebody finds the outlet and plugs the cameras back in? Again, frustrating, but rather expected (blah, blah, ESPN hates soccer, blah, blah). But not nearly so egregious as Dave O'Brien's idiotic statement on our return to action - "You haven't missed a thing!" Typical. No goals = nothing happened in the free-scoring minds of the American Sports Nincompoop who can still somehow manage to enjoy a "pitcher's duel". YEEAARRRGGHHH!
Of course, Tommy Smyth, in his crusade to prove that ignorance isn't a uniquely American phenomenon, goes on his little tirade about three points against Chivas being equal to three pionts against New England. In a single table world, yes. But in the Land of Regional Conferences, three points against the Revs are much more valuable than three against Chivas. He said some other equally ridiculous stuff as well, particularly bringing Becks in where he wasn't needed, but by then my "Irish Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle" filter was in place and I managed to block most of the idiocy. I thought that maybe they were going to put Smyth out to pasture after some recent absences on Thursday nights, but I guess the "Sports and Entertainment Leader" can't see Americans paying attention to soccer without an accent in the booth.
So yes, mistakes were made and boy were they plentiful. Congratulations on making it all the way through this meandering and long-winded post. In general, I'm disappointed with the draw, but all things considered, it wasn't a terrible result. If we can grab a victory at the weekend over the Revs, we'll be in excellent position heading into the playoffs and this result should fade into memory like a bad dream. Like a bad dream of Razov's ass and Irish Ninja Turtles fellating Golden Balls as the Beckham Cam zooms in on a zip line that somehow manages to decapitate Ben Olsen, though the bearded one's head continues to prophesy the impending ruination of the franchise through a combination of the return of Freddy "team-killer" Adu and being forced into miserable exile at the SportsPlex as cackling DC politicians dance around the ruins of a demolished RFK. Now where's my coffee?