A Poor Effort From Distance | a DC United Match Reaction

This won't take long. I'll put in about the time that Tommy did for his team selection. Remind me again about the FO's commitment to international competition. Aren't they always claiming that we "need" to be involved in these types of tournaments? So what the hell were we doing throwing our Open Cup roster out there, punting so we don't have to deal with the group stages in the fall? Some fodder for discussion...

* Anybody else getting flashbacks to the bad old days of 2008 in this one? Did Janicki's putzing about and delivering the goal to Firpo on a silver platter not have a touch of Martinez' "overplaying" in defense about it? How many of you watched Kocic mishandling a variety of shots and thought, "hey, when did Zach Wells re-sign for United?" And Peralta's got nothing on Avery John when it comes to resorting to the long dump over the top when he can't connect a simple 10-yard pass. As for disappearing #10's...I won't even go there.

* Clear the damn ball! Honestly, I can understand if the message was, "play possession, don't give it away needlessly." But once you've been burned once for trying to be cute at the back, don't you think tempting fate should be out of the question? I've often forgiven Jakovic for this behavior because he's so rarely punished and his technique is decent, but god, if the rest of the defense is trying to emulate him, we're in for a world of hurt.

Quick hits?

* I wonder if N'Silu's early exit was planned, because he was actually hustling for his 40 minutes.

* Why was Szetela wide with DiRaimondo in the middle for most of the match? Isn't DiRaimondo a wide player, and doesn't Szetela bring more to the party from a distribution standpoint?

* We were lucky to get that ref. Sure, he called things a little tight, but he also wasn't the typical maniac with cards that you usually get from CONCACAF.

* Defensive help, please? That open senior roster spot beckons. Time to fill it.

See? Told you I'd be brief. The worry for next week, of course, is that away goals leave us needing to win or grab a scoring draw. Either way, we need to create goals. And that doesn't even take into account that we might not be so lucky with cards or PK's next time around. Here's hoping we get more space to play and that somebody has a word with Tommy about running out a stronger lineup. I wouldn't have minded trotting out some second-stringers if the road leg was first, but we've just placed all of our eggs in one uncertain, Central American basket.


  1. As a fan of the team, I agree with you and was looking forward to tonight for months! Fingers crossed for next Tuesday.

  2. I’m glad you tried to spend as much time as Soehn did on the starting 11 but despite your best efforts, I think you still gave it more time.

    I don't like the CONCACAF competitions. I probably don't like them because DC never does well and I can't stand the other teams fans. I am a season ticket holder and have been to most of these games over the last 3 years. I did not attend the game last night because of a medical procedure but I did watch on TV.

    Quite frankly, I would prefer that DC stay out of these dive fests altogether. I do however watch the games and root for my team. I would never turn my back on the team. But…the MLS can not afford to compete against these teams unless the cap goes up, we have no experienced depth.

  3. But isn't that one of the things that makes soccer such an interesting sport to follow? Multiple competitions involving opponents from other leagues, cultural playing styles, and levels of ability?

    Your point about depth of roster is a valid one, but it's precisely the availability of more games involving more scenarios that allows young players to get the game time they need to develop and mature. Imagine a 30-34 game MLS schedule (playoffs add the extra games) with little to no fixture congestion. The only time the "scrubs" get minutes are in cases of injury. If one of MLS's goals is to develop young players for the national team program, surely it's a benefit to have more games on the calendar against varied competition?

    Having said that, I'm not going to pat Tommy on the back for rolling out the scrubs for Firpo. We don't play again until Saturday. I think this was a chance to blow this qualifier open without endangering our league play, thus setting up the possibility of more games on the calendar that we can use to develop the younger players. Now we have Houston on Saturday and the away leg against Firpo on Tuesday. If we were well ahead, Tuesday would be the day to run out the scrubs. Instead, we'll really get to see how strong our commitment to international competitions is...I think we already punted.


  4. I wrote my post when I was just a bit pissed that DC had once again dug itself into a hole. I do have to say your response has made me re-think my position. I’ve also calmed down. I would like to add, I agree to a point. Your analysis is spot on regarding the pounding Firpo should have received. But the travel plans for this team leave a lot to be desired.
    You wrote "But isn't that one of the things that makes soccer such an interesting sport to follow? Multiple competitions involving opponents from other leagues, cultural playing styles, and levels of ability? I agree but that is not what is happening with these CONCACAF matches. The whole approach seems bass ackwards. It can’t always be about throwing our younger players in the deep end (you confirmed that at the end of you post). If they could play with a good mix of veterans the learning experience would be invaluable. Regarding the coast to coast travel, I ask the question; Is it Soehn, Is it the FO, and is it the MLS? Who knows but it isn’t working. Year after year we roll out at least half the B team because we are sandwiched in between matches that require 1,500- 2,000 miles of travel on consecutive weekends. Who plans these trips?
    I've been to every Open Cup match the past 2 years as well as the final last year and we seem to accomplish your statement during this competition. I only wish COCACAF was the same.
    Thanks for the response and I enjoy your blog.

  5. I almost forgot one of the key factors. Fans need to start showing up to these marches to make it work as well.

  6. Maybe calling them matches instead of marches would help with attendance? ;-)

    The Open Cup has basically become a single-elimination reserve league, which is all well and good as long as you keep winning, but if you go out at the first hurdle, the kids are screwed. Other MLS scrubs and lower division opposition doesn't exactly check the "variety" box either.

    Scheduling is definitely an issue that MLS has always failed at. More stadiums with MLS teams as primary tenants will help, as will having more teams in the league, but I'm not holding my breath that it'll get fixed any time soon.

    Thanks for dropping by FBF and participating in the discussion. Detailed comments (and challenges!) are always appreciated.

  7. Interesting that we both independently cited the similarities between this match and 2008.

    As you say, the great thing about soccer is that its a global sport, and Champions League is the best chance for American clubs to get exposure to different styles of play from around this region, with the chance to earn an opportunity to participate in an international tournament as the prize. So if the point is exposuring our players to different styles, don't we want to expose our BEST players to different styles? It's nice for guys like DiRaimondo to get this sort of opportunity, but I'd rather give it to guys like Pontius.

    Definitely hoping to see more of the starters in the away leg.

  8. Agreed.

    If this were my WSM '09 team, I would have started Kocic, McTavish, and Szetela from amongst the non-regular starting crew, but would have left much of the lineup intact, bringing on the likes of John, N'Silu, and DiRaimondo if things were going well. Hindsight, of course, is 20/20, but you'd think MLS clubs would have learned their lesson by now.

    Sadly, I think they have, and I think maybe we're deliberately flaming out in order to best position ourselves for the playoff run-in, where six extra games will put a real strain on a 24 man roster.