Not With a Bang, But a Whimper | A DC United Match Reaction

So which excuse do we go to this time? Because, for the life of me, I can't figure one out. Sure, you could play the "fixture congestion" card, but San Jose played midweek as well, and they did it at altitude followed by a cross-country jaunt. Add in that they have little to play for but pride and the fact that they were missing Cannon in net, season with our first-half dominance, and the resulting head-scratching gets so intense it starts to bleed.

Some questions before I start to weep...

(1) What did Fearless Leader say at halftime that saw us come out so flat and lame in the second after controlling much of the first half? I'll take a stab. "Keep things tight, boys. Don't take risks. Play within yourselves. We've got this one in the bag. And for God's sake, DON'T MAKE MISTAKES, OUR PLAYOFF LIVES ARE ON THE LINE!!!" Curb the ambition, pile on the pressure. That sound about right? The silver lining here? Whatever small chance the Champions' League turnaround may have given Tommy to stay in a job this off-season surely just went up in smoke, right? RIGHT? Did you see how the chances started to flow when we got desperate? For christssakes, why were we not desperate to get the second goal in the first place?

(2) What is Burch good for besides launching bombs from distance? And if he can't get said bombs on target, is he, in fact, more a liability than a neutral force? The sad, sad punting of our playoff chances pretty much consigns him to the former. Yes, there is blame to be meted out elsewhere, and he was returning from injury, but that one moment, more than any other (and there were a few), killed any chance we had of winning this match. Hitting a ball really hard is not sufficient qualification to be a top-flight professional. USL beckons.

(3) Why do folks insist that Wicks could be our long-term solution in the net? The guy is a walking brain-fart. What the hell was he doing charging out to the top of the 18 to try and punch out a corner kick? We're lucky Toledo equalled Wicks' stupidity by blowing the play dead, because that sequence probably should have resulted in the Quakes' first. Whatever the case, it was probably should be up there with Burch's error as a humungous turning point. Wonder how much of an effect his leaving injured had on the patchwork back line slowly crumbling, and I wonder as well how much the Quakes started licking their chops when Kocic came on.

(4) I fail to see why Pontius does not start at forward for us. Yes, he did manage to blow the biggest chance that fell to him, but he was consistently getting into dangerous positions, forcing the defense to adapt to his movement, winning balls in the air. Contrast this with Moreno's assortment of balls to nowhere and ill-advised flicks. Contrast it with Emilio's stunning lack of movement (do you really want your striker's response to an incisive dribbling run to be "Screw running off the ball to open up space or present a passing option, I think I'll just stand here and wait for that guy to give me the ball because I get payed an obscene amount of money relative to my talent and deserve to have the ball delivered on a silver platter by a naked slave boy...oh, here comes the ball, let me boot it about 10 feet with my iron touch!").

Quick mentions before my head explodes...

* Benny, flinging himself prone to execute an outrageous backheel. Favorite. United. Player. Ever!

* Was it just me or did James go from winning virtually everything in the air in the first half to winning virtually nothing? Against the same player? How does that happen?

* Why did we swap Pontius and Quaranta on the flanks? Pontius can cross with his left, an ability that led to our goal. Quaranta consistently pulls it back onto his right to deliver the in-swinger. Effective at times, but only when we have guys in the box who can win headers. Also...predictable in the extreme.

I'm done. I hope this putrid abomination of a result serves as a fitting answer to all those who fell victim to having hope bloom optimistic in their hearts in the wake of the false dawn on Thursday. Wake up call! We've got a blind, inept helmsman steering a leaky, slow, overpriced boat, and half of the rowers consistently fumble their oars overboard. Are we completely sunk yet? Not yet. But that was a huge chance squandered. Now we depend upon others' results, and we saw how far that got us last year, didn't we?

Ugh (squared, cubed, raised to the nth power, god help us all).


  1. You words sound so clear. I agree with your concluding statements. DC United has to do some major shake-ups for next season. Playoffs? I think so if we can pull away 5-6 points in the last 3 games. And also if lady luck is on our side. Get rid of Soehn, Emilio, Fred, Moreno, Olsen (sorry, too old), Burch, John, James, Janicki - and rebuild with what you got there. Shop Szetela too - we can get a decent pickup with him.

  2. Random thoughts:

    1. Benny, flinging himself prone to execute an outrageous backheel. Favorite. United. Player. Ever!

    This. Could not believe that. In addition to having a great deal more technical skill than I think he's usually given credit for, Ben is easily our smartest player. Replacing him (as we ought to start to do next season) will be hard, though I suppose there's potential to Simms-Wallace. (Too bad we never got to see Simms-Veron or Olsen-Veron...)

    2. Jaime is finished, as is this season, regardless of whether we squeak into the playoffs through some other team's greater incompetence.

    3. How bad was the decision to get rid of Guerrero? I'd trade him for Gomez in a heartbeat, and I think we'd be in the playoffs. Not winning the Cup, but respectably in the playoffs.

    4. I still think we've got a decent chance to be good next year and very good the following, if we make smart moves in the offseason. The upside is that our best players are our cheapest players, which is a much better situation to be in than the one we've had the past couple offseasons, where our best players were our expensive players.

  3. @LaMancha
    The playoffs are a long shot, given who has games in hand on us, but, like rob says below, making the playoffs is only going to be a matter of pride, cause we'll do jack-all if we get there. I'd keep James around as a cheap project, and I've been surprised by Benny's durability this year. I think he can go one more as a player/coach. The rest you've mentioned can go, though Jaime should be back as an assistant next year once Soehn/Ashton get their marching orders.

    #2 - Yup, time for Jaime to work on his coaching badges.

    #3 - If nothing else, it might have meant that we didn't screw around with the 3-5-2 so long. That in itself may have grabbed a precious few points. I still don't see us being a dangerous playoff side though.

    #4 - The problem then becomes the FO. They've made some good acquisitions, but those are far outweighed by the bad, overpaid, and flat-out useless cadre we've brought on board. Just think, wasn't Jakovic the emergency option when the short, ancient Brazilian Roger backed out? Can you imagine the implosion from a Janicki-Roger centerback pairing to start the season (we were doing the 4-4-2 diamond in pre-season)? Yikes.

  4. Emilio came from the Honduran League and proved he can still play in the Honduran League with his two goals mid-week. Maybe he should go back. Pontius needs more time up front where Santino can find him either from the right flank or the withdrawn forward position. I can tolerate Wicks while our younger keepers mature (more so than Crayton and Wells) and would rather see us invest our resources in someone who can work with Santino to generate a creative attack (either a left mid-fielder which would allow Wallace to either play left fullback or defensive mid or an attacking central midfielder who can see the field well and get balls to the right players in the right spaces. That would still require us being able to finish (Pontius misses a lot) so an additional finisher might help too.

    Burch is a lost cause. When asked whether he ever considered putting Burch at left back, the Maryland coach just laughed and said "It never occurred to me". He's a good coach - one I would recommend to replace Soehn.