So what do you think? Did the Bearded Bombardier save Soehn's job? I was already typing up my invective-laced screed about handing Tommy his pink slip during the inevitable dead ball stoppages towards the end, but Benny and Jaime showed up at the death to throw their boss a lifeline. I almost wish they hadn't...
* I will agree that Burch should have been yanked at half-time if we replaced him with a defender (see my half-time notes)! By putting Wallace on the back line you neutered his one big contribution--speed down the flank. Also, with Simms coming out (Why was that again--injury? I didn't have an English feed), you can't possibly make two subs at halftime. My in-game notes are quite clear on this point, though they're too littered with obscenity to post here. With Gomez, Moreno, and Olsen all likely to run out of gas before the end, you can't waste your subs early, particularly on guys who can go the 90.
* On a related note, color me shocked that we didn't completely lose the midfield battle after we swapped Jacobson for Simms. Jacobson doesn't impress me as the type to throw himself about and Olsen is half-crippled (though he has extra heart!). How exactly were they supposed to win the battle against Larentowicz and Joseph? This is where we miss Vide's energy.
* Pontius needs to get those two big chances he had on frame. Sure the angle was a little tight, but you've got to test the keeper. Those misses changed the game. Put one of them in, and it's game on with plenty of time to go. Jaime had a golden opportunity as well, but at least he forced a save. I suppose the glass half full is that Pontius is getting in the right positions to score. Now he just needs a bit more composure.
* Jakovic is growing on me. He's poised on the ball (sometimes too poised for comfort), strong, gets his head up to pick his passes, and is starting to make some key tackles and interceptions. The biggest benefit to his play is that when he distributes, it's generally to a teammate and to feet. He even started making some dribbling runs up the gut of the Rev midfield in the dying moments. At this point, I'd rather have him in the middle of a back three than Janicki. Still, the glaring best option would be to pair Janicki's physicality with Jakovic's technical qualities. Namoff at right back and Wallace on the left gives Wallace the freedom to bomb forward and ensures that Burch stays planted on the bench where he belongs.
* Jaime was glacial, even before he pulled up lame. I've always admired his ability on the ball, when things seem to slow down around him as he skates past defenders. But in this match, the ball came, he slowed down, and the game proceeded apace without him. Considering how quick some of our attacking play was in the first half, it felt like the ball hit quicksand whenever it came to Jaime. He's still a quality player, but perhaps it's time he becomes a super-sub?
* It's a shame Gomez went off with an injury, because this was his best performance since returning to United. He was heavily involved, had a few chances on goal himself, and generally looked lively. I'll temper that with a note that his touch was unusually heavy at times, particularly when on the run. I wonder if that's down to a lack of sharpness or to some heavy legs owing to extra fitness work? Regardless, I hope he's only out short-term, as it would be a shame to lose him just when we're starting to see glimpses of the old Gomito.
* Here comes the injury express, pulling back into town. How many will be struck down by the Bum Hammy Hammer this time around? At least we've got a bit more depth this time. Now let's see if we can use it.
So what's the final conclusion? It's tempting here to leap aboard the good ship Fire Soehn and start shouting my displeasure. Very tempting. No way should he have made two subs at the half unless they were forced by injury. Who does he think he is, Mourinho? Screw that. Even Mourinho wouldn't have pulled two and left three guys on the field who might not make it to the final whistle. And let's not forget that the direct result of those changes was another goal surrendered in one of those "critical patches" of the game that he's at pains to tell us he recognizes.
Still, despite all of that scorn and doubt, until the injuries to Gomez and Moreno, we were looking odds on to score. Pontius' two chances, Moreno's chance, and Gomez' half-chance were all signs that the breakthrough was coming. So do you attribute the injuries that ruined that rally to bad luck or the inevitable result of bad judgement on Tommy's part? I'd like to say bad luck, but there comes a time when you can't blame the fates any more.