Yes, yes, there were injuries, some real, some worryingly drawn out, some perhaps emphasized in order to justify the team selection and thus cover the coaching staff's asses, but . . . this is a team built for international competitions, right? I suppose you could say that Tommy faced the conundrum of roster rotation and which competition to place the highest value on and made his decision. We took the Nicol route and punted in this one.
This won't take long . . .
* Boyzzz looks like a useful pickup. Not spectacular, but useful.
* There was nobody out there ready to grab hold of the game for us. We lacked ideas and inspiration, and it showed. No Moreno to hold the ball and dictate tempo. No Olsen to get nasty and fierce, nor Guerrero to inspire with tireless running. And no Gallardo to hit lovely balls into space that forwards either (1) don't make the run for or (2) make the wrong run for.
* Speaking of Gallardo, let's address that "built for international competition" issue a bit. It seems funny that the FO's emphasis has been on success on the international stage, and yet so far we've (1) dropped three matches at home in SuperLiga and (2) pretty much sacrificed our Champions' League advancement for an MLS playoff push. I've got a couple of thoughts on that. First, it seems that SuperLiga and the CCL both fell prey to the injury crisis. An injury crisis that's now almost entering its third month! Ridiculous. If I may, I'd like to make the humble suggestion that perhaps we sink some of Gallardo's $1.9 million into fitness staff. I know, I know, it's all MLS's fault for the pathetic size of rosters and the salary cap and blah, blah, blah. Whatever. The fact is, any craftsman knows you've got to take care of your tools if you want to get the job done.
* What about that second thought? Uh, metaphor machine? Right! Never buy a $75 hammer for a $12.50 job. Let's torture this one thoroughly, shall we? Okay, we entered the season knowing that we had 6 nails to pound into the plank (Champions' Cup, MLS, MLS Cup, Champions' League, SuperLiga, Open Cup). We bought one expensive hammer (Gallardo), rather than a series of cheaper (but perhaps more rugged!) instruments. Of course, MLS roster restrictions being what they are, we were always going to be a bit limited in this department, but how many of you are looking at Gomez riding the pine in the Rockies and wondering, what if?
* So, any positive thoughts? Well, Burch can certainly belt a free kick and hit a cross. The Saprissa keeper kept us from getting at least one off Burch's boot (or Burch's boot to Simms' head). But those chances were all free kicks and balls from distance. That was a huge difference between the teams last night. When Saprissa attacked, they did so with intent and ideas and speed. We did alright knocking it about the midfield, but there was no quick, decisive cutting edge to our thrusts into the final third.
That's it. I'm done. Let's just say I'm embarrassed. Sure, Count Mexula may have been a bit quick with the tarjeta roja and we're certainly the walking wounded, but it seems to me that this competition was one of our two main goals (alongside MLS Cup), and we've pretty much gone the seppuku route at the first opportunity. Would Jaime and Marcelo and a full-match-fit Fred and Emilio have made a difference? Perhaps, but the result last night demonstrated everything that we know is wrong about MLS in international competition. We're just as talented as the other guys, but we're like acne-scarred teenagers at a house party, drooling over what we might be doing with the cute girl in a notional broom closet, rather than the über-cool, experienced exchange student who's already in there with her.
Damn. Better shut that metaphor machine off before it explodes.