Ah well, I suppose we won't have to worry about the damn Champions' League next year, will we? You know, barring a miracle run to the Supporters' Shield or MLS Cup...if we even make the playoffs. Pity that our keeper is a psycho and that our coach, a former defender, needs to learn a thing or two about defensive tactics.
Talking points, since we must...
* Psycho Wicks, partido dos. Does all of our hemming and hawing about who was at fault for the dustup in Chicago seem a little misplaced now? Wicks is clearly a dangerous man to be around. Any of you who were at RFK need to take a look at the replay to see that Josh clearly looks down at Montero's hand and then angles his leg to deliver the stomp. I thought initially that he was just doing one of those full body extensions in disgust at having let in a goal, but his right leg movement isn't matched by his left. Now, I don't mind having guys on my team who have a few screws loose--every team needs their resident "psycho"--but I'm not sure I'd want a guy that petulant and violent, a player who deliberately tries to injure a defenseless player on the ground. One instance of bad behavior is forgivable. Twice in a week? And it's a huge shame because Wicks came to our rescue on a handful of occasions tonight, even if most of them just required him to stand still and block, something his "statue-keeping" style seems pretty perfect for.
* Back to the doghouse, Tommy. It was only this weekend that I was crediting Tommy for some excellent tactical choices, wasn't it? Where did that coach go? Instead we're left with this cretin who seems to only watch replays of Italia '90 for his tactical education. Newsflash: No matter how heroic some of the defensive efforts were, it was only a matter of time before Seattle caught us on the counter. They had at least three excellent chances in the first half that should have had the warning klaxon sounding and Tommy thinking, "Would you look at those gaps? We need another defender in there." And don't give me any of that crap about not having any center backs beyond James who can play in a back four. All we needed was another body to cut out those balls through the middle and to provide support to our fullbacks. With Seattle's counter thus neutered, we could have gone back to patiently picking their patchwork defense apart. The fact that we didn't speaks either to (1) Tommy's slavish and ideological devotion to a formation that clearly doesn't work against MLS opposition with the players at our disposal or (2) Tommy's lack of faith, no matter how justified, in his defensive depth, to the point that he's making bad decisions to avoid playing people.
* A broken record. Let's keep after Tommy for a bit, shall we? Is there anybody else in this digital house that recalls the last month? Yeah, me too. I think I've said time and time again that our attack is slow and predictable and too damn narrow. I could even forgive Tommy for the 3-6-1 if we were managing to create more chances than we were surrendering with our stretched back line. But we weren't. We had a few tries from distance and some set pieces. Where was all the flair and creativity that a side effectively playing three attacking midfielders (Moreno, Gomez, Fred) could bring to bear on a slow, second-choice, central defensive partnership? Why couldn't one of the five other midfielders find their way to the back post on the one good cross-the-goalmouth chance that Moreno conjured? Oh, that's right. I forgot. This is DC United. We don't make far post runs.
* Build around Jakovic. It sucks that the abiding memory of his play in this game will probably be getting beaten by LeToux in the buildup to Seattle's second, because other than that, he had a masterful game at the back, even if he is being asked to do a job that he's not perfectly suited for. Just imagine what he could do on a consistent basis with cover at the back, rather than being hung out to dry on his own little defensive island, where his ball skills, anticipation, and passing are not well used. Screw the second goal, my abiding memories will be his de-jocking of Montero on the sideline in front of the loud side and those handful of times when another defender would have booted long or out of play, but Jakovic calmly picked out a pass to a teammate. If James is the real deal as an enforcer to partner Jakovic, we only need to decide if Wallace is a left back or midfielder. If it's the former, our 2010 back line is set. If it's the later, it's time to cut Burch loose and start shopping for a left back.
* A stirring finale to the match, and credit to the boys for going so hard, even down two with just minutes to go, but you've got to wonder if maybe we had too much left in the tank at that point. Maybe we should have been attacking with more gusto earlier? You know what? Speed and direct play unsettled them a bit. Too bad we were stuck in the same meticulous pattern weaving for so much of the match. Not that I mind intricate passing moves, but the intricacies were all happening along the back line or in the middle third. When the ball got forward, we did nothing dangerous, conspiring to lose ball after ball to poor touches, ill-advised passes, broken-off runs, and general dallying.
* Fred must go. A $200k turnover machine and attacking wet towel. How many times must he cut back to the middle rather than making a direct attack down the flank? Ugh. Manage the minutes, my ass, Tommy. A trophy was on the line. Quaranta should have been on after 20 minutes. And I'd like to see what Shipalane can do on a flank in a 4-4-2 please.
* Emilio's touch with his back to goal is so freakin' awful, you'd think the ball was rebounding off a concrete barrier.
* On a positive note, Simms was spraying the ball about with more confidence than I've seen from him...ever. Was that a function of Seattle not putting any pressure on the ball, or another step in his progression as a player? Tidy finish as well for our one tally.
* Burch is not a defender. I just wonder if Tommy is so in love with that cannon strapped to Burch's left leg that he can't bring himself to realize that he doesn't contribute much else to the cause.
* Benny pulled a few jewels from his bag o' tricks in the first half that brought me out of my seat. Had Sounders chasing shadows with his whirling dervish dribbling, he did.
We win trophies, huh? Says here in my program that we win zilch this year. That's what happens when you've got a bunch of tired old guys on the oars and a blind helmsman who can't see the ship has sprung multiple leaks, is heading in the wrong direction, and is about to get sucked into a whirlpool. I wonder if the FO knew this was our last realistic shot at glory this year and that's why they hyped this final so hard, not the "rivalry" with the upstart Sounders FO.
Anybody got a sack? If we can't stuff trophies in it, at least we can give it to the blind helmsman, right?