Wait, wait, wait--stop me if you've heard this one before. United keeps the ball in their opponent's end for much of the match without ever looking truly dangerous. The opposition, when they do have the ball, go right for the juglar and make United look worryingly inept, managing more and better chances than we do with all our precious possession. Then, roundabout 75 minutes, the visitors kick it up a gear and United are suddenly wounded, a puzzled, haunted expression plastered on their faces. And it's only a matter of time before the coup de grâce arrives in comical fashion.
Welcome, my friends, to the Curt Onalfo era...
Well, let's not blame it all on Onalfo; there's a fair bit of blame to be shared around here, particularly by the FO that's built this team. Are there really enough dangerous pieces here for Onalfo to fashion something threatening that might offset his inability to organize a defense? Moreno had his moments, but there's no way he's a starter anymore, much less a 90 minute player (Can somebody explain why he was left on the field all 90 when he was clearly done? Is Onalfo afraid to yank him?). Castillo looked a little better than in previous outings, but didn't ever really look dangerous. And Allsopp? Square peg in a round hole. He just doesn't seem to be playing the same game as the rest of the team: flicks to non-existent runners, dribbling into blind alleys. And how about the big deal that was supposed to solve that looming problem in net...?
Perkins looks utterly lost. He's tentative coming for crosses, gets all confused with his defenders when looking to clear, and what about that second goal? Sure, Talley was doing his best traffic cone impersonation (and had been all night) against McBride...but beaten near post on a flick-on header from a keeper's dead ball clearance from his own end? Really? This is worth a first round pick and a starting attacking midfielder (you don't think Fred could start on this train wreck?). Jeebus! It's no wonder we can't get a stadium built with smooth operators like this at the helm.
Of course, Perkins' giant pile of suck was perfectly in keeping with the quality of his defense. I don't know if they were just being gun-shy about making tackles in their defensive third because of the stunning number of terrible free kick opportunities we gave up last week by being too aggressive, but the inability to close down angles, close down players, and clear balls in and around the box was enough to make you weep. For crap's sake, Collins John was playing alone up top for the Fire and he consistently had time and space in which to operate without having to drop deep. That's pathetic. Sure, sure, I know we were without our starting center backs, but...ugh!
Still, the thought that sticks in my mind comes courtesy of the Fire color guy (electrical difficulties last night meant I had to watch the replay this morning on Match Day Live), who said, as the match began, "DC United are pointless this season."
Spot on in so many ways. We are still without a single point on the table, which was what he meant in the first place. But we also lack any sort of cutting edge that might threaten an opponent (our only goals came courtesy of defensive errors by the expansion team). Worst of all? We don't seem to have any direction. Possessing the ball is nice, but it means squat without creating chances or being able to limit the opposition's chances. The only time we managed to look mildly threatening was from one free kick and a couple of corners. And our defense, as previously pointed out, doesn't seem to have a clue.
We may recover somewhat as the injured start filing back onto the pitch (of course, seeing the Bum Hammy Hammer strike down yet another player [Pontius], we may need a revolving door installed in the treatment room), and maybe there will be some movement in the transfer market this summer that adds a bit of quality if Chang decides he's seen enough of the Kasper-Payne Comedy Hour. But at the moment, I think we need to set ourselves a pretty low bar.
How about beating the points total for the 2009 Red Bulls? At the moment, that looks like it might be a stretch...