Some quick hits:
- Los Gonzalos were solid though the center official seemed pretty intent to blow up any United player that dared to challenge for a ball in the air, which pretty much limited Peralta's effectiveness. Interesting to see the speedy Martinez dropping off into almost a sweeper role, though I'd put this down more to United being wary of the Jamaicans' speed than an indication of things to come.
- The wings were not so strong, either in attack or defense, though Fred seemed to come more into the match as it progressed. With Gallardo dropping deeper than Gomez ever did and playing some defense to boot, that should give our wide players more opportunity to get forward, but it just wasn't happening.
- Gallardo wasn't exactly disappointing, but he didn't dominate proceedings either. The one thing I like is that he's not the sort of playmaker to dwell on the ball. His touches are quick and he keeps the ball moving. If we can ever manage to generate some wide play, this could be devastating. As it is, he really only seemed to have a good understanding with Fred and Niell. The pitch probably played its part, but I was a bit worried about the quality of the free kicks--one of the things we'll miss most with the loss of Gomez.
- The striking corps weren't exactly on fire either. Emilio looked lost, and his touch was awful to boot. Moreno didn't have much of a chance to shine before limping off. I thought that Niell was going to be an instant impact as he started out in such a threatening manner, but was only able to make a few darting runs. Of course, he should have drawn a red when he got wrestled down on a dash through the middle, but the typically incompetent CONCACRAP ref did what his ilk do best--fail miserably at the critical juncture.
- 1-1 isn't the best result, but it should do. On a decent surface in RFK, with another week of work under their belts, it shouldn't be too much trouble for the boys to dispatch The View, though the ref could always make the job much more difficult. I'll be looking for a more positive approach from United, with an attacking option coming on in place of McTavish on the right wing.
- Though I was excited to see the Bard get some minutes in Jamaica, it's just the same old song from Soehn--bring on the second d-mid for a striker to protect the lead, just like he did so often with Carroll last year. I can only hope that he's just looking to blood the kid, rather than plodding along in the same old rut we wore down last year. How about a little variety, a little innovation? Or am I just expecting too much from MLS (and American coaches in general)? Is it just me, or does Soehn seem too rigid tactically?
- So what's my answer to the initial question posed above? Let's see--I think I've already gone on about the play--fairly miserable with a dash of choppiness courtesy of the man with the whistle and some pretty horrible looking warts owing to the field. The officials? Yes, the man in the middle didn't seem particularly equitable and wanted to whistle everything, though he seemed to have it in for Burch, Peralta, and Emilio in particular. And yes, that far side official needs to be rendered down into shark chum. What the hell was he looking at on some of those offsides calls against United in the first half? And Burch's "foul" that eventually led to the petulant yellow? Ugh. But top honors must go the the dynamic duo in the booth for FSC. I think I'll be hearing Caligiuri's "low risk" mantra and stunningly vacant commentary in my nightmares tonight. But if Caligiuri is bad--and he is, oh sweet Jebus, he's awful--he'll never hope to approach the Prince of Darkness, the Incubus of Inanity, the Antichrist of American soccer broadcasting--Christian Miles. Of course, I really have only myself to blame for going through about 40 minutes of hell before I remembered that I control the volume on the damn television. Oh, to have those 40 minutes back. Better yet, make it the last couple of hours.