United drop a 1-0 result in Guadalajara to go crashing out of the Copa Sudamericana at the first hurdle. Chivas had the overwhelming majority of the play, as was to be expected, but United had a few decent looks at goal of their own. The biggest difference, barring possession and red cards, between this week and last was that DC's strikes from distance were saved or off target.
I can't fault Soehn too much for his team selection or tactics. The injury to Fred and Burch's suspension pretty much dictated the team he put out. Tactically, I thought United's approach was sound given the result from the first leg. Chivas had to come after the goal, so why not absorb that pressure and look for chances on free-kicks and counters? The alternative, to come out and attack, trying for the killer early goal, would have left too much space for the quick Chivas attack, which was already bombing down the flanks. I was concerned that we didn't seem to be closing down the crossers hard enough, but I think the idea was that we could control the aerial game in the box, so avoid diving in, getting juked, and giving up the hard cutback cross for a runner to slam home.
It worked for most of the match, save for one really good chance at the back post in the first half for Chivas. Correspondingly, United got their chance from a free-kick, which Gomez hit well, only to see the keeper make a diving stop. Chivas' goal came from a bit of scrappiness around the edge of the box and a nice hit. The goal came early enough that United had a chance to respond, and they did have several decent chances, though most were driven wide of the net. Worryingly, I thought that Moreno would be key to us in holding up clearances, drawing fouls, and prompting breaks, but after the early knock he took, his control seemed off and he made some mind-blowingly bad decisions for a player of his quality and experience.
So, a tough loss, but United can now focus completely on MLS as claiming the Supporters' Shield will get us back into continental competition to try again next year. The squad has looked fairly comfortable in the three international competitions, despite falling short in all of them, and that bodes well for the future, assuming that we can hold on to key pieces this summer.
Next up are the floundering Wizards on Friday. They'll be without starters Conrad and Arnaud owing to their mysterious hatred of Pete Vagenas. Three points would be a massive result in putting pressure on the chasing pack of Chivas, Houston, and the Revs, all of whom play after United. Don't forget to check if you've got CSN+ to catch the game. DirecTV subscribers should tune in to channel 669. My match recap will be delayed, or possibly non-existant, as I'll be heading to the beach for a last gasp at summer. Thank whatever non-denominational supreme being or beings you opt to place your faith in for TiVo!