Predictable. Utterly predictable. Combine an emotional mid-week cup win with a cross-country flight; stir in half the regular starting lineup being out through suspension, injury, or national team duty; blend with a couple of starters shaking off the rust; add an opponent riding a good deal of momentum and looking fresh with an infusion of new blood; and dust liberally with Dyachenko going the full 90--that's a recipe for a let-down if I ever heard one.
Truthfully, I'm not going to get terribly upset about this, because I pretty much called it in the wake of the Open Cup triumph. I watched closely until Alvarez banged home the Quakes opener. After that, the game went in a little browser window in the top left corner of my screen, waiting for the inevitable result, while I caught up on some FM (where my DC United side are fairing much better with a 4-4-1-1 ;-), and it didn't get my full, undivided attention again until Tino pulled things back to 2-1. To the Talking-Point-mobile, Batman!
* We're still putzing about with the ball at the back and giving up chances that we shouldn't. The difference between now and a month ago? Crayton bails us out. Perhaps this is still some "shiny new toy glow", but I can easily see us being at least (and this is probably a somewhat pessimistic number) 6-9 points better off right now if we'd had Saint Louis in the net all year. That would be a much more comfortable spot to be in.
* Why the packed middle, Tommy? Everybody and their grandmother knows that everything the Quakes do comes down the wings through O'Brien and Huckerby. And given that Iron Rod's sole defensive tactic is the ugly foul, he was never going to be much help for Simms. True, Tommy did make the adjustment to push Rod up top to help out Doe after a bit, but shouldn't that have been the game plan from the outset? Actually, given how aggressive young Cordeiro looked when he got on the pitch, and considering his recent reserve league scoring exploits, I wonder if he maybe should have had more time on the pitch.
* Rod giveth, and he taketh away. I know, I know, Dyachenko managed to harry the Quakes defense and deliver the ball to Tino for the lone goal, but I'd argue that (1) Tino still had a lot to do, and did it rather brilliantly; and (2) considering the number of balls that he lost, passed to nowhere, or couldn't quite reach, Rod's balance sheet was still awash in red. It was simply astonishing the number of times the announcing crew would say his name, followed shortly by a change of possession. Of course, Rod was not alone in this proclivity for the turnover, but his errors seemed the most egregious to my (admittedly biased) eyes.
I'm not going to dwell on this one too much longer, because I think (and hope) that it was an outlier of a result. Considering the handicaps we had going in, I don't think that 2-1 was too bad of a result. We were never going to create too many chances, and we were always going to be under some pressure. The fact that we still had opportunities to snatch a draw at the end, despite the difficulties, is encouraging.
That said, we're going to be embarking on a rather hellish schedule until the end of the season. After next week, the Champions' League brings the pain in that we're going to have two games a week for nearly every week until MLS Cup. Roster restrictions, injuries, and the sheer weight of fixtures have the potential to result in absolute disaster.
Will we pull a Revs-style rollover in the cup and shoot for league and playoff glory? Sadly, I think that those aforementioned limitations practically force a bit of harsh pragmatism from Tommy and Co. So let's all form a circle of mutual support and end together with a mild and slightly foreboding . . .