Apologies if this is a bit truncated, but I just got home 10 minutes prior to kickoff after a couple days on the road, so I'm trying to get situated and my thoughts are a bit scattered.
You want an idea of how much I thought we'd pull the "cardiac" move and snatch this one from the jaws of defeat? Well, I spent the last 20 minutes of the match catching up on my RSS feeds since I've been on the road and internet-less for the last two days. Of course, some of that was prompted by United bringing on Julius James, and me going, "What the hell? When did we sign Julius James?" Not that it mattered; my primary motivation for digging into the RSS feeds was to while away the time until the final whistle blew cause we sure weren't getting back into this match. Talking points?
* Pull the damn trigger, Luci! Now I can see Emilio making a quick turn and getting a shot off, maybe even a little feint to open a gap to fire into, but what the hell is it with trying to beat three defenders on the dribble? And while we're at it, can we pause to examine his running off the ball? Luci's not the fastest hound in the hunt, so when he hesitates on the last defender's shoulder (or flat out refuses to make the run), he's not going to get to the ball first too terribly often. Even if he does, the angle has long since been closed down.
* The problem with Jakovic. For every two slick bits of dispossession or calm play at the back, Jakovic manages to lob one softball to the opposing forwards in the form of trying to beat an attacker with the ball or simply making a terrible misjudgment. But to my mind, the slick bits are what make Jakovic so special and important. He reads the game well and often cuts the ball off and starts chugging up the field. Too bad there's nobody to cover for him when (1) he makes mistakes trying the high-difficulty, high-reward move and (2) moves forward with the ball at his feet.
* Tom Soehn's tactical masterclass. Is there a potential remedy for Emilio's problems? Well, besides telling him to shoot the damn ball, we might try playing someone up top with him. Soehn's 3-6-1 (yeah, I said it) leaves him either holding, trying to fashion something out of nothing, or the only one ahead of the ball to make the run. Pathetic. What about Jakovic's issues? Duh! Give him some cover at the back in the form of a second central defender.
* Slow and slower. Those seem to be our two attacking speeds. Don't get me wrong. I appreciate that we try to build up attacks and actually construct goals rather than lobbing the ball over the top, hopping for a bad bounce or mistake on the opposing defense's part, and relying on luck and speed to grab a cheap one on the counter, I really do. But when all of our pretty possession results in aimless crosses and hopeful through balls that get spit back out by a compact defense that's had time to array itself against us, it's hugely frustrating.
So is all lost? Probably not. This was an important opportunity in the playoff chase, but we've still got time to solidify our position. We've got a couple of new defenders to run into the mix, and might be adding a bit more attacking speed in the coming weeks. I'm still not in desperation mode, but I'm also running out of patience with Tommy's formational choices. At this point, I'd even take an actual 3-5-2 over this 3-6-1 nonsense (though, of course, I'd much prefer something that left us with four at the back).