United Match Reaction | Benny the Savior

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.

Vamos United!


  1. I agree with you on Jakovic, but as usual, not on Burch. Jakovic is growing on me as well. But despite Burch's giveaways, why mess with a backline that didn't give up any good scoring chances in the first half?

    The Jacobson for Simms move was certainly a game changer. Jacobson's a decent player, but he's more of a holding midfield distributor, not a true CDM bruiser like Simms who can disrupt plays. I'm fine with Jacobson being our first choice replacement for Olsen, but how about McTavish instead as our replacement for Simms if necessary?

  2. I agree with Shatz on this. I'm not a big Burch fan, but he looked fine (a quiet night for him is a good night) and Wallace was causing New England problems down the left flank.

    Jacobsen was okay though both you and Shatz are right, he is more of a holding/distributing mid than a destroyer and punisher like Vide.

    I liked what Gomez and Moreno offered, but this game is a harbinger of things to come - they don't have 70 minutes left in them..much less 90. If this is the best Gomez has to offer and he has to come off after 60, that spells something of a different role for him than everyday playmaker.

  3. Re: Burch

    Defensively, he looked fine, which is more than you can usually say for him, but I lost count of the times he hit long balls to nowheresville. When the name of our game is possession, that's poor play any way you slice it.

    Where I'm really looking to lay blame is the two casual balls that almost created disasters--the soft back pass to Crayton and the ridiculous pass across the middle that got intercepted and led to a quick break for the Revs.

    The Revs specialize in punishing that kind of lax play, which is precisely why I thought Tommy was yanking him. Of course, in the post-game commentary, Soehn seems to indicate that he thought Burch was doing fine. Which begs the question...why change at the half? Why not have words with Burch, try to get him to clean things up, and give him ten minutes to see if he can adapt? Instead, you pull a guy who is doing fine for the most part, and slot in a rookie who doesn't seem suited to play in a three-back system.

    Head scratcher for sure. A post is in the offing regarding this...

  4. I like Wallace on the back line. In the back or on the flank, he has more to offer than Burch. It also makes room for Fred or Tino as they become healthier.

    Apparently Simms was unable to continue after the first half. It looked like he took a pretty hard knock at one point. That would explain the sub.

    Soehn's choices of subs baffle me as well. Although not as much in this game. I don't think he planned on Simms not returning.

    With Moreno, Gomez, and Olsen all possibly needing relief in every game, one of them should be kept out of the first XI and used as as sub. We can't aford to have the same three subbed every game. You wind up with the situation like last night.

    Hopefully Gomez can reach fitness soon. He definately made an impact last night. And, we appeared to lose control of the midfield after his departure. He is the only one of the three not suffering or recovering from injury.

    I think Jakovic had a good game as well. He looks like he may adjust to MLS after all. I like his confidence. He has a big presence, especially in the air, and appears to be technically sound.

  5. I don't like Wallace in a back three. For me, that eliminates what makes him an interesting player, and I haven't seen enough defensive quality from him that would suggest he's a fully baked solution there...yet. Thus, the thug-importation that is Avery John. Ugh.

    Vis a vis Gomez/Moreno, my latest Football Manager effort suggests that they could be rotated at the playmaking attacking midfield position pretty successfully (the starter generally goes 55-65 minutes before running out of gas and giving way to the other).

    You know, because computer games always reflect real life ;-). For what it's worth, Wallace is doing really well as a left back in a back four as well...