Pretty Vacant | a DC United Match Reaction

Well, at least the result was decent, right? Other than the three points and the clean sheet, there was very little that was pretty about this match. United lacked any sort of fluidity, committed numerous boneheaded defensive blunders, had little attacking intent, coughed up the requisite ├╝ber-stupid losses of possession in perfect counter positions, and generally got damned lucky that Jabloteh were so wasteful. But at least United got the job done despite themselves. Just a few talking points tonight...

* Have we forgotten how to move off the ball? United's blunt attack seemed to consist of passing to one motionless guy, waiting for him to find somebody jogging up the field, then kicking the ball to the opposition. The prime example of this was where somebody got up the energy to dash through the middle, beating a couple of defenders (Pontius, I think) to bear down on the back line. And what's our designated player doing? Is he pulling wide to draw defenders? Is he looking to make a darting run in behind so the man with the ball can look for a chip or ball slotted through? Nope. He's sitting there immobile, with two defenders on his hip. He comes the attacker with the ball...aaaaaannnnd....whoops! he strips the ball from his teammate and proceeds to do sweet crap all with it. Kill me now.

* Except when we didn't. Not that we were doing much moving, but we did start to spring players down the right wing in the second half, usually with quick flighted balls from Jacobson. Of course, anybody watching Szetela do his best "Fred" ("I'll cut it back inside, surely there will be more options there, right?") might have been screaming for someone with a bit of speed and willingness to take on defenders to be getting the ball in that position...

* Square pegs in round holes. Tommy's a geometry genius right? That's why, seeing that the right wing is there for the exploiting, he brings on Shipalane, a tricksy winger type with a little speed...and sticks him in up top as a lone striker. Goddamn duck on Arrakis. You could see it in every half-hearted challenge for a high ball and every movement to get out of the middle and onto the wings. Unreal. Of course, maybe Tommy's got an inkling that the guy's out of his depth judging by the lame finish displayed on his golden chance to net the precious second. Ah well, at least he hit it hard and on target, which is better than some of the Brazilians we're throwing the big cash at.

* And now, the inevitable complaint. Okay, Shatz, let's have it...this was the 4-4-1-1 that I've thought would be our best bet for a while now, right? Not exactly. Tommy found a way to flub this one too by putting no speed on the wings and playing Pontius and Szetela too deep. They needed to be higher, looking for quick penetrating balls from midfielders with a good range of insightful passing and offering more support to Emilio, who is not well suited for playing the one up top in this scenario. Szetela, in this formation, offers more in the middle. But Gomez certainly looked more involved, didn't he? I'm telling you, let Gomez and Moreno split minutes at free-role playmaking forward.

* And finally, a little credit where it's due. Tommy gave the right orders at halftime. United came out pressing, looking to grab an early second goal to kill the match. You'll have to admit, that's a far better tactic than his usual "bunker first, ask questions (of your defense) later" approach. Still, when the goal didn't come immediately, I still think you're better off in CONCACAF continuing to go for the jugular rather than leaving things in the hands of the most wretched examples of officialdom you're likely to come across...

* Which reminds me. We were damned lucky. The temptation for the man with the whistle to preen and strut and enjoy his moment in the spotlight didn't cost us too much besides two silly yellows and a dangerous free kick or eight. Thank goodness that Jabloteh didn't figure out how easily flustered our back line is by direct play into the box until it was too late for them to do anything about it. Thank goodness they couldn't find the finishes when we gifted them runs on goal from dangerous positions. Thank goodness they couldn't take advantage of some piss-poor defending on set pieces. Better to be lucky than good?



  1. Hey, you said it, not me ;)

    Actually I was ok with the 4-4-1-1. We certainly had some problems last night, but the formation wasn't one of them. The biggest benefactor of that formation is Gomez, who was more productive as a withdrawn forward than he has been lately in his usual role at the top of a diamond 4 midfield. But here's my question... If Emilio is not best suited to play at the top of this formation, then who is?

  2. Pontius. Not ideal, I'll grant you, but he runs hard, wins balls in the air, and gets into dangerous areas. Added benefit? We might actually challenge for some of those crosses that seem rather pointless at the moment.

    I'd disagree that formation wasn't a problem last night. It did mitigate some of our own weaknesses, but it didn't particularly play to our strengths either. That said, we were handicapped by a rather short roster, so we'll see how things look in the two games next week, given over a week to get guys healthy.

  3. I will second Pontius at the top of the 4-4-1-1. Every shot will go wide left, but at least he will be getting shots and getting into dangerous positions.