DCU|FM Challenge, Part III - Let the Games Begin!

And on we roll with my DC United | Football Manager Challenge. When last we convened, I had done a bit of roster surgery and survived a lackluster pre-season relatively intact. Now for the games that matter...

@Los Angeles: Lost 1-0...to a Donovan-less, Beckham-less Galaxy. The horror. Set pieces doomed us, with Kelly Gray scoring off a corner kick for LA. We completely dominated this game and should have been up 3-0 at the half, but "big signing" Henri Camara, playing as the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1, blew the three one-on-ones the midfield sprung him for. After the half, LA started to get more chances as I got more adventurous with my two holding mids. Disappointing to say the least. Already Tommy's ahead of me out of the gate...and Claudio Lopez is out 2-3 weeks as his aging legs feel the none-so-tender kiss of the Bum Hammy Hammer. Sigh.

Chicago Fire: Hurt them bad, and it feels so good! 4-1 to the good guys despite playing many of my "second choice" team to compensate for playing three days after the LA match. I had a good feeling from the start when we kicked off and had pretty much everybody but the goalkeeper touch it in a quick sequence that ended with Moreno burying his finish from close range (hope Monsieur Camara was watching on the bench and worrying). They barely had a sniff in the first 45 before Jacobson, the man of the match (and MLS Player of the Week!), tacked on two screamers from outside the 18 to make it 3-0 at the half. They got a scrappy one back after a scrum in the six midway through the second half, but Gomez tacked on the fourth in stoppage time after Logan Pause got himself sent off for a second yellow. Vamos United!

International Break: The US stumbled out of the blocks in the Hex, losing to Mexico at home and drawing 2-2 in El Salvador (I know...freaky, right? Except this time around we went up 2-0 with a brace by Altidore before they came back for the late equalizers). Then they managed to replicate the 3-0 against T&T, though Julius James managed to bust up his knee for them and will be on the shelf for a couple of weeks for me. Glancing at the US lineup digi-Bob ran out against T&T reveals a central midfield pairing of Jermaine Jones and Mo Edu, with Edgar Castillo at left back. Junior did make an appearance as a sub (nepotism! ;-) and managed to find the net (oh...I guess nepotism doesn't get you in the Bundesliga, eh?).

Houston Dynamo: Match of the young season. They went up 2-0 at the half on a brace from Landin (who is a holy terror--his cyber-self must be laying off the doughnuts) before Moreno clawed one back for us on the hour mark. Camara capped a quick counter off a cross from Tino to bring us level on 77' and get the 23k at RFK rocking. It looked like that was the way it was going to end as Onstad made a fantastic save on a certain goal from Camara, and Moreno and Simms both pinged the woodwork. But in stoppage time, Simms and Wallace combined to put a ball in behind for Rogers to run onto. Both Houston centerbacks followed Camara's near-post run, and Rogers cut it back from the touchline to the middle of the box. Moreno, playing as the central attacking mid in a 4-2-3-1, came charging in and met the rolling ball at the spot, and you know Jaime is money from the spot...3-2 for my boys. Righteous!

After the match (you might have to click on the pic to get a readable size)...

Awwww shucks! Not a bad start thus far, but I'm worried that we've yet to keep a clean sheet.

@Real Salt Lake: These are the games that piss you off as a coach. Take a look at these halftime stats and tell me how we only managed to go into the half up 1-0...

Jacobson, Quaranta, Moreno, and Boswell all blew golden chances to put us up before Boswell nodded against the crossbar and Jacobson cleaned up the mess to put us ahead on an ugly corner kick goal (yeah, you read that right...a goal from a corner!). Predictably, RSL leveled near the hour mark on a long-ranger from Beckerman (on only their second shot of the game...ugh). Fortunately, the boys fought back. Lopez, returning from injury, came on for Moreno and dished off to Fred after a lovely bit of dancing at the top of the box for 2-1. Then Rogers and Lopez combined to set up Camara for 3-1 with his first touch of the game after coming on as a sub. That was with 8 minutes to go. Of course, they scored on 84' and again on 89' to leave me hugely frustrated at 3-3. I need to get things tighter at the back...

Revolution: I went in to attack after laying into my players a bit, and things were going to plan until Jakovic passed back to the keeper...only to put it right past him. Ouch. Szetela then filled his pants (I do miss Ray sometimes...) on a one-on-one after being played in beautifully by Quaranta, but Camara pounced on the rebound to make it 1-1 on the stroke of halftime. The second was a bit of a struggle until Rogers managed to retrieve a ball on the byline that looked all but lost, and cut it back for a wide open Camara to bury from the six. With 15 to go, Olsen chipped Camara in on goal for a hat-trick, but Reis stoned him, only for Moreno (on as a sub for Fred and again playing in the Schelotto-slot) to grab the rebound on the eighteen and slot it into the corner for 3-1. And that's how it finished. Better defensive effort this time around, but still no clean sheets.

@NY Red Bull: Top of the conference clash with them 3 points on top, but us with a game in hand. Angel has been destroying the league with 10 goals in his first six matches. This might have been a shootout, considering our own defensive woes, but proved a bit tighter. Guess who's starting for them? Chino Alegria! How's that for a blast from the past? That Osorio, always plumbing the depths of the transfer market! Petke opened for them in the second minute, nodding home from a corner (wanker!), but Rogers made a mirror of the second half by opening his United account off a cross from Tino in the 47th minute. He had a second called off eight minutes from time after Moreno played him in, only for the offsides flag to wave. It ends 1-1, but we looked horribly vulnerable to corners. That said, we did managed to completely shut down the en fuego Angel, so that's a plus, right. Still no clean sheets.

So a month in, here's how the table looks...

Yep, the MetroCows have almost matched their actual 2009 points total in seven games. As it stands, I'm pretty pleased thus far. We play some neat passing stuff, and we do get the goals. The two points of trouble seem to be that we're a bit physically frail in midfield, and we can't seem to keep a clean sheet. I'm casting a serious eye towards acquiring a physical, holding force in the middle of the park. My shortlist at the moment is Ricardo Clark, Shalrie Joseph, and unattached Uruguayan, Marcelo Sosa. Clark and Joseph will both cost a pretty penny in trades, while Sosa would come in on a free. Hmmm...

Until next time, Vamos United!


Think I'm making a mess of this? Grab a copy of Football Manager 2010and have a go yourself. Then write it up and post it to your own blog or send me a copy and I might post it here on FBF...


  1. Haven't heard much from Wallace or Pontius so far. How are our two rookies doing?

    LA's 0.8 GAA average might be just as surprising as NY's early success. Have AJ and Omar been getting much playing time for them? They might have some extra defenders who could help you out. Surely they would be interested in a trade for a skilled attacker like Fred since they already dealt away Donovan and Beckham.

  2. Hey there, I'm following your blog with interest. I am new to FM and pretty much a novice when it comes to soccer. I've decided to take on the game/sport during the baseball off-season (I play a baseball simulation, as well). About three weeks ago I started playing with DC United as my first FM10 team. I am at the same stage in the season that you are. I've really hit a rough patch and I simply can't get the offense started. I see that you play Jacobson a lot. He has moments of brilliance but is otherwise disappointing for me. I'm sure I'm making many managerial mistakes since I barely know the players on my team, no less the league. And, my tactics probably lack congruity. It is fun learning though. Anyways, enjoying the blog and I hope you keep United on top.

  3. Sorry about the delay guys, long weekend...

    Pontius hasn't really featured. He had one great game as a sub in pre-season, but has only seen limited minutes thus far in the regular season.

    Wallace has started all but one game at left back for me, and is doing well. I had originally intended him to be spot cover for d-mid, left back, and left mid, but the roster deadline day shuffle that saw me jettison Avery John pushed Wallace into the starting role on the left. You'll be delighted to know that the UMD connection down the left between Wallace and Rogers is really clicking.

    I'll have to check on the minutes that the Terps at LA are pulling, but the Galaxy are little more than than a kick and rush, keep it tight and narrow at the back, counter-attacking side at the moment, relying mostly on set pieces for their scoring. Bolton under Big Sam, if you will.

    Jacobson is a shock to me as well. I figured he might make about a dozen substitute appearances with a couple of Open Cup starts, but he's blowing Szetela away at the moment, mostly because my formation gets him into shooting positions at the edge of the box, and he's hitting the target. Without the goals, I'm not sure his ratings would be so high as he's not as mobile or strong in the tackle as I'd like.

    The biggest hurdle with FM now (it was somewhat different before the tactics creator came along) is really man management. Keep your guys happy and motivated, play the guys in form, and things should start to fall into place once the team starts gelling. The biggest help for a new player would probably be getting in an assistant manager with high man management and tactical knowledge ratings, and sound him out for advice regularly. If you're still saddled with Mark Simpson, I'd advise replacing him as a first step.

    Also, you probably want to keep the tactics simple and not give your players too much freedom until the results start to come. Then you can get more expansive.

    If you'd be interested in writing something up about your experience, let me know. FM can be a dangerous addiction ;-).

    Good luck with "your" United. ;-)

  4. @Shatz
    Just checked on the LA UMD-ites, and Omar has started every game for them with great success, but DeLaGarza has yet to feature. They're now down to a shocking 0.5 goals against average after 8 games...