I'm going to take a slightly different tack for the meat of this reaction post and focus on one subject. If you couldn't guess it from the title of the post, it's this: where is our Montero? Why this focus? Because, tempting as it is to blame Tommy for our impotence in attack (one shot in the first half and it wasn't even on frame?), there's a larger issue, and it's one that Tino addressed in his rant last week. Despite his subsequent apology, it still rings true. We have no dynamism and speed in attack with which to unsettle defenses, and that renders us slow, predictable, and easy to defend. Talking points?
* Remember when? Do you remember the days where we, as United fans, used to bitch and moan about the physical approach from the likes of the Fire and Revs? The way they bit, scratched, hacked, and generally brutalized our technical attacking types? Yeah, those were the days, hmmm? How's that shoe feel on the other foot? The sheer thuggery we directed at Montero was both embarrassing and had my Nostrodameter pinging like mad that he was going to grab a goal to have the last word. I usually don't hate it so much when I'm right.
* Let's get physical. Continuing on the point, I'd like to address the whole "playing dirty" issue a bit more. Is this Tommy-ball or is this desperation? Whatever the case, it's not a game we're cut out to playing very well. We're the least physical team in the league, meaning we lose too many aerial battles, challenges, and 50-50 balls, and we're nowhere near quick enough to cover when our aggressive tackling goes awry and coughs up counter chances. You can point to the center official and say he was letting an awful lot go, but that generally played in our favor...Anybody else think that Namoff's tackle on Zakuani along the end line smelled suspiciously like a PK?
* Questions for the iron men. Speaking of Namoff vs. Zakuani...that was pretty much a disaster, wasn't it? It was shut down better in the second half, but Zakuani was consistently getting the better of Namoff. And that's somewhat understandable given Zakuani's speed (where's that quality on our roster, eh?) and the lack of adequate cover being provided to Namoff, but I about threw my mouse at the screen when I saw Zakuani beat Namoff in the air at the six. Namoff? Beaten in the air? By Zakuani? And Clyde Simms? Sure, he's playing out of position, but on their first goal, he was waaaaay out of position. Rongen can chew out James all he wants for not covering the gap that Zakuani exploited, but that was Simms' side. Where was he? Look at the replays. He's 10-15 yards up the field. In midfield to be precise. Which looks suspiciously like the easily exploited 3-5-2 we've been suffering with for so long.
* Danger zone? Getting back to the dead horse called Montero...Why are we saddled with the likes of Fred on $200k+ and Emilio on DP dollars, aging and ineffective in attack? Maybe Tommy's not exactly a tactical genius, but I'm sure he'd be doing better with sharper tools in his belt. And that's got to fall on the FO. We had our own shot at a Montero-like player (quick, strong for a small guy, makes runs in quantity and with quality), Walter Martinez, in the pre-season, but we lost out to a second-division Spanish side, where he ultimately washed out and ended up back in Honduras, playing against us in the Champions' League. Surely we would have been better served ditching some of the hefty salaries that aren't producing much? You can argue that we didn't know what we were getting with the return of Gomez, but we had a clue about his decline when we chose to ship him off in the first place, didn't we? And certainly we've known for a long time what Fred's bringing to the table. We win trophies? Not without a little ambition in the transfer market.
* Emilio had two fantastic chances and a half chance. Results? One on frame (a lame dribbler right at the keeper) and two put wide. Does that seem like a solid return on DP investment to you? Also, his first touch is so heavy he managed to hit himself in the face with it on one occasion. And the step he's lost is the step that would probably provide 2-3 more chances per game, given the vision of some of our attackers.
* Wicks needs to take some blame for both goals. The second might be a little harsh as it was deflected a bit and was hit with real venom, but it's still near post and he's a big boy. The first? Pretty lame attempt on the rush out, if you ask me. Sure, he was hung out to dry, but I'm getting sick of seeing him in a statue pose with the ball in the back of the net. Witness Keller getting down on a similar occasion with Emilio.
* I'm all for being a bit more direct and pumping balls into the box, particularly when we're down, but remind me, do we win headers in the box when Pontius isn't in the box? If not, you've either got to get Pontius up top or stop hitting hopeless crosses.
* Wallace's positioning in central midfield and his tendency to cough up possession cheaply are factors against him, but his sheer physicality makes him something we just don't have otherwise, a dynamic presence in midfield. Too bad he's also the only flank speed we have to speak of as well. Way to go, FO...
That was a huge opportunity missed. A win would have put a severe dent in Seattle's playoff chances while significantly boosting our own. It would also have put down a marker that forced the teams around us to step up to the plate or risk being left behind. Sadly, we couldn't deliver, though I'm not entirely certain that it really matters anyway. Consider the KC game on Wednesday. If Arnaud puts a couple of chances on frame, we're staring down the very same barrel.
And what damage are we likely to do in the playoffs anyway given the old, slow, predictable nature of our attack and the tactical inability of the staff to close the gaps at the back? Here's hoping Jakovic recovers before our next league outing (the 27th, home to the Quakes). Time to throw the scrubs to the Champions' League and see if anybody proves themselves useful enough to take part in the final push for the post-season.