Just a few things that went bubbling through my troubled brain during and after the CONCACRAP loss to Pachuca . . .
* Gallardo and Fred were magnificent in the first half hour, and we were looking slick--combinations, counters, skill on the ball, even a couple of decent chances that we should have done better with. But as the game wore on, the oxygen fled, the legs got heavy, possession started to fade, the touches went awry, and we pretty much let Pachuca do what they wanted in the second half.
* As impressed as I've been with Los Gonzalos defensively, the Gonzalo of the Peralta variety seems to hit and hope a bit too much, as does Namoff. Of course, if we had a true target forward or somebody not just quick (like Niell), but actually fast (. . . crickets) up top, maybe the long ball works to stretch the opposition. Burch hits the long-rangers as well, but at least he pretends to a modicum of control over them, rather than just blasting away. In the second half, with less possession, an inability to move the ball quite as quickly on the counter, and nobody making Niell's defense-stretching runs up top, Pachuca condensed the field and took over.
* We're still too narrow in attack. As much as Fred seems to get sucked into the middle of the field, we need Burch to start exploiting that space on the wide left more. And forget about it when we get the ball to the forwards and they just turn and go at 3-4 defenders with no support coming from the wide positions to stretch those 3-4. Pull those defenders apart a bit, and Gallardo's passing becomes an order of magnitude more dangerous.
* I'm waiting for a flip-flop on Niell's minutes, as I think he'll prove much more effective coming off the bench to harry defenders and make those testing runs. If Jaime isn't ready for TFC, I'd like to see Quaranta start and Niell for the last 20-30 minutes. Of course, what really worries me most about Niell thus far is that while he's gotten into promising positions, he's done squat with the opportunities--scuffed shots, losing possession, falling over, bad passes, etc. That's got to be a big worry, as last season proved that we must have at least three proven finishers.
* Wells did his level best to top Perkins' brain-fart from last year against Chivas. Not quite the same level of egregiousness present in the mistake this time, but still a basic positioning error nonetheless. As long as he learns from his mistakes, so much the better for DC moving forward, but for now, that's a cold, cold, ice-cold comfort.
* 2-0 is not impossible to recover from, but it's going to take a pristine defensive effort and the sort of ruthlessness in front of net that we just haven't seen from United thus far. At this point, I want the team to really take it to TFC hard, dominate in our crumbling old house, stick some balls in the net, and build some confidence and swagger going into the return leg. Otherwise, we're going in timid, and we're sunk. If the Wiz can exploit us on the counter when we're looking to just get one back, imagine what the likes of Pachuca will do, knowing that we have to attack early and often.
Onward and upward and homeward and such. Here's hoping RFK soothes some troubled minds.