Well, that wasn't comfortable, but in the end we got away with it. Your pardon if this match reaction comes off a bit light or disjointed, but I was entertaining a 6-year-old through most of the game, so my attention may not have been focused to its usual laser-like intensity ;-). I suppose the most important thing is that we got the win, but I'm still not entirely pleased with what we saw on the field. Once again, we let the opposition hang around and have plenty of chances. If it weren't for Wicks making a couple of key saves, the storyline may have had a less happy ending. To the talking points!
* Keeper question settled? Two big saves. No major gaffes. Looks like we'll be lighter one Liberian netminder sooner rather than later, eh? Wicks has won the starting job, and $175k is a lot to pay a backup keeper, so I think we can be relatively certain that Crayton is history. Now a couple of questions have to be raised. (1) Do we add another keeper, and (2) what's the salary story? Addressing the later first: does Crayton count against the cap for the remainder of the year if we let him go? If not, then we've got some decent cap space to play with. Which leads us to the first question. Do we run with Wicks as the starter, Kocic the backup, and sign a kid to the developmental roster as cover, or do we bring in somebody reasonably priced on the senior roster to push the pair of them? Or do we go with just the two?
* Wallace in the middle? I thought the Mouse was doing its usual mind-blowing worst at sorting the lineups when I saw Wallace projected in the middle, but damned if they didn't get it right. I'll be interested to hear what those in attendance thought of his play, because it looked pretty decent on television, given that it was his first professional action in the middle of the park. He was quick to cut out balls and showed a lot of energy to cover the ground he did, thus taking some of the burden off of Simms and allowing them to alternate making bursts forward. Score another for the rookie class--this one goes a little way towards easing my fears about depth and mobility in the middle of the park.
* Temper, temper. You knew Terry Vaughn's cards were burning a hole in his pocket. He dealt a few yellows, but Emilio's tantrum allowed him to play his favorite color. I can understand being frustrated that you didn't really have any attempts on goal. I can understand being frustrated at being pulled when maybe you feel you have more to offer the cause. I can understand that you feel perhaps the ref didn't blow the whistle in your favor as much as he might have. But, come on! You're a professional. What does throwing crap on the field accomplish?
* We need to get lethal. Once again, we got an early lead and didn't exactly look to press the issue for a second. Thank goodness Angel wasn't sharp (Shep Messing claimed in an interview that he's carrying an injury he's not fessing up to, and on the strength of the last couple weeks' performances, I can believe it), Borman got his feet all messed up, Richards puts his head down and charges without a thought of sharing, and Wicks was up to the challenge. When they brought on Wolyniec, I groaned aloud because I thought he was going to pop up to kill us in ridiculous fashion. Thank goodness my Nostrodameter was off, I don't think I could have taken that kind of pain on top of the sorry events of the past week.
* Fred in the middle. Fred was terrifically mobile in the attacking midfield again, and, while his performance wasn't quite as impressive as the first half last week (the slick surface probably contributed to that), he did provide the assist on the opener after a nice patch of play. When he's pushed wide and his freedom of movement is restricted, as he was in the second half, he's just not the same player. True, he made a couple of solid defensive stops, but that's not his strength. That said, while I like the idea of a mobile, energetic midfield, we needed more poise and composure, both of which I thought Gomez added when he was introduced. It's nice to have options though.
* You'll never take our freedom? Pontius looked more dangerous than he has in the last two outings and some of the positional interchange in the first half was enticing. Pontius, Fred, and Quaranta all seemed to be roaming the attacking midfield in the first half with the wings getting forward regularly. Was that a result of Wallace + Simms being able to cover more ground that Wallace + Olsen/Jacobson? Whatever the case, it was in full flower when Fred raced in from the right and pulled back for an onrushing Quaranta.
Some quick hits..?
* That Zimmerman kid looks a real find for the Bulls.
* We had a bad case of the "thump it clear" blues. A product of the wet field or an increasing tendency towards direct play?
* The conditions may not have been conducive to our normal possession style, but I thought we connected the dots well at times. Still, in the main, I was disappointed that we didn't control possession and the flow of the game better.
* Burch's "balls to nowhere" count didn't seem as egregious when the rest of the defense was getting in on the act a bit. And can Namoff please learn to cross?
* Let's grip the rosary beads tightly, cast our eyes heavenward, and thank the Big Sky Daddy that Borman's crossing was abysmal and that he couldn't get the ball out from under his feet when presented with the best chance of the match.
* Did our stoppage-time PK look a little soft to anybody else?
Well, that's about all I've got. Anything else catch your eye? Got a bone to pick with me? Looking forward to having a weekend to just sit back and enjoy the zen-like bliss of the neutral for the MLS action, or does the USA's qualifier put paid to that plan? Let's hear it in the comments, folks.