- Is it just me or is Kpene backsliding? The kid was so promising early in the season, but now the touch and the daring, and perhaps a bit of the fire (no pun intended), seem to have faded. I think that has everything to do with confidence. The kid can't catch a break and get one in the net. Last night he was active early, but after he pinged that shot off the post, it was like he took a punch to the gut. It also doesn't help that Soehn keeps yanking him at the half. That can't be good for a young player's mentality, can it?
- There are some worrying signs coming from the back line. Too many times last night, Perkins was called on to clean up some mess in front of him that came from either tentative tackling or putzing about with the ball. I know we're a "possession team", but that kind play at the back has me pulling my hair out. The other big problem was distribution from the back. Sure, some of that has to do with not having Moreno's "sticky" feet as an outlet--Kpene and Emilio have too many "hard" first touches and pathetic flick-on attempts that concede possession from clearances. But the majority of the mistakes were clearances directly to the opposition. Fortunately, Chicago were not able to take advantage like KC did last week, but the worrying trend is still there and does not make for happy viewing with the playoffs just around the corner.
- Osorio has done some nice things with the Fire. They may not have the most talented roster from top to bottom, but, unlike under Sarachan (and unlike a lot of MLS sides to be fair), they now have a definite direction. The team is organized, knows what is expected of them, where the ball should go, and where they need to get back to defensively. Soehn is a decent coach, but imagine what Osorio could have done with United.
- Did United peak too early? As I said previously with the back line troubles, I'm getting a worrying sense that maybe we're past our best for this season. Little niggling problems that may be indicative of a bit of rot setting in at the core. Of course, the last two matches were draws despite some significant hurdles (missing Fred + missing Moreno) and the unbeaten run is still an impressive accomplishment, but we really need a win at home to Columbus next week, not just to wrap up the Supporters' Shield, but also to build some confidence and convince ourselves that we're still a winning side heading into the post-season.
- Dyachenko must have eaten his Wheaties yesterday. He looked pretty damn good out there--enough at least to justify trading away a first-rounder to get him back from the Canucks. Confident, full of tricks, running at defenders--where has that been for this entire season? We saw flashes in the away win against New England, but not much else until now. Is it a matter of being stuck behind too much talent at his favored position, a questionable work ethic, or something else entirely? The one thing that kept popping into my head last night as he started to break out the step-overs and backheels and attack defenders from a wide attacking position was--dare I say it--Clint Dempsey. The size, the moves, the creativity, the willingness to have a go--now if only he could find the finishing to complete the picture!
United Recap - Five Talking Points
Some talking points from last night's disappointing, but somewhat fortunate, nil-nil draw at home to the Fire: