As I suspected, KC's inability to finish flattered us last week. I alluded to the defensive wobbles that went unpunished at the feet of Arnaud and others in my reaction to the match against the Wiz. Sadly, Juan Pablo Angel is no Davy Arnaud, and United paid for those slips this time around. I'm not in the mood for much of a discussion, but I'll lay out the usual spread of talking points before I slink back to my cave to sulk.
Alright, let's get this over with . . .
* Our go-to whipping boy, Zach Wells, did have his usual moments of suck, but it would be reckless and irresponsible to blame him for a goal-shy MetroBulls side putting four into the net. Angel's free kick was stuck very well, but the wall has got to do better. Did Zach not put enough men in the wall? Did the wall just fail by disintegrating at the crucial time of asking? Was Simms shoved a bit? Their second was the one where Wells may need to shoulder some responsibility. If he's going to go after that cross, he's got to do better than whiffing his punch and falling down, removing himself from the play entirely. The third I put down to a terrible decision by Burch and an inexplicable pull-out by Carroll. Sure, you may put it in your own net, but it's going in anyway--stick your head in there and at least try to clear it, rather than dodging the post. Sheesh! No chance for Wells on the fourth. Credit to him, he did make a couple of nice stops.
* So Wells doesn't get flogged--who does? What happened after that opening 20-25 minutes? We were in control and looking solid at the back. Was that just the carry-over confidence from last week evaporating under the glare of Angel's opener? Did we just wilt under the usual Osorio-ball brutality that served Chicago so well against us last year?
* One thing is for certain, I've got some questions for Tommy. Why didn't Martinez start this game? Were we "saving" him for the Open Cup? Was he carrying a knock? I find it hard to believe, even if his form hasn't been sparkling of late, that he's worse than Burch or Carroll. While we're on the questions for Tommy: why did Jaime come out at the half? Tino's a decent player, but he looked rusty at best--as you'd expect him to when returning from injury, and swapping him in for Jaime was tantamount to punting on third down (if I may mix my sports metaphors).
* But the biggest problem was that we started to cede possession. When we were controlling things in the early going, it was high pressure, get the ball back, and push it high or wide to start the attack. Then the back line started to make the vaunted "passes to nowhere" that have gotten us in all manner of trouble this year. It also seemed that perhaps Simms was getting a bit too adventurous. This was creating some problems for the Bulls, but it abandoned the "defense first" mentality that the team stressed was at the heart of last week's win. And that has me worried about what's going to happen when Gallardo returns. Will we have to keep Guerrero back to pinch in and cover for Gallardo's advances? For my money, that negates the useful wide threat that Guerrero gives us on the left.
* Speaking of Guerrero--where did he go? Fred was creating dangerous chances on the right, including the goal, but Guerrero was largely absent from the attack, in sharp contrast to the threat he carried against the Wiz at RFK. I find it hard to believe that he'd need to help Burch contain Sassano. Was he dropping back to allow for those marauding runs by Simms? Whatever the case, he'll need to do better against the Revs on Tuesday.
Oh yes, there was that one bit of silver lining this week. Vide and Guerrero are not, in fact, cup-tied according to USSF. Since the Quakes only participated in "qualifying matches" and not the cup itself, they'll be able to take the field against the Revs. Pardon me for not jumping for joy, but I'm more than a little nervous about what the ultra-efficient (and angry, after pretty much giving the Fire a victory on Saturday) Revs might do to us, even if we have a full compliment of players. Obviously, KC was an aberration, and we've still got some major problems to work out. Are the impending returns of Gallardo and Peralta, as well as the signing of a veteran Afro-Euro keeper, the answer?
Color me skeptical.
The UGH is back . . .