Gee, I sure hope we don't need any luck coming down the stretch cause I think we pretty much used it all up to get a result in this one. Whether it was big saves by Perkins, last ditch clearances, terrifying misses by the Fire, or Pickens' complete brain fart, we used it all and we used it hard. Wait, did I say "fart"? More like a Hudson-esque filling of the pantaloons by the Chicago netminder on Moreno's goal. Whatever. I'll take the goal, the point, the unbeaten run going to ten (let's hope this thing goes all the way to eleven - and well beyond - but watch out for exploding drummers!), and get out of Dodge on the first stagecoach that comes along.
When I saw the Simms-less lineup at the start I was getting my fingernails prepped for some serious abuse. A second-string midfield on the road against a team desperate for points and buzzing like a nest of sodomized hornets (wait, is that possible - call the staff entomologist!) after getting buggered by the Little Fish in stoppage time Thursday night? Color me crapping my pants. Well actually - don't. That'd be a bit disturbing and I don't even want to know where you got the picture.
Now, all of that said regarding sweet Lady Luck, I do think Chicago's goal did have a bit of her mercurial touch as well. Great ball from Blanco - no arguing that - but it looked to me like Chad Barrett took a basketball dribble with his leading arm to push that ball down into his path. Credit to him, Rooney's doppelgänger took the goal well enough when it did "make its way" down to his feet, but "Hand of Chad" doesn't really have that great of a ring to it, does it?
Regardless, though I think things would have proved different with our "real" midfield in play, the Fire are not a team I would relish facing in the first round of the playoffs. Their normal thuggish approach to playing us was tempered a bit - possibly by the introduction of new blood at the helm, possibly because we really only had Moreno out there who would be the target of such knavishness.
The lack of creativity in midfield was a real hindrance to the United offense, though we did hit some testers from distance, McTavish proved how valuable his positional adaptability is, and Mediate proved that he deserved getting his roster spot back. I actually thought that not having Wanchope in the lineup hurt us more than Chicago, as Boswell-Vanney is not the speediest combo at the back and probably would have dealt with his physical threat better than the pace of Barrett and Carr (though Carr's complete lack of anything resembling quality does make him a significant hindrance to any attacking force).
As we'll see in tomorrow's Table Talk column, results this week see Chivas narrow the gap at the top, though we do have the tiebreaker advantage over them courtesy of a win and draw in our two regular season meetings. That said, they're now only three points back with a game in hand and DC has a significantly more brutal home stretch than the Goats, if only by virtue of the fixture congestion and travel brought on by the Copa Sudamericana rearing its ugly head. To add further spice to the nasty two weeks ahead, our Sudamericana opening tie brings us a rematch with our Champions' Cup semifinal opponents, the original Goats de Guadalajara! Goats to left of me, Goats to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with U(nited).