I'm a little late to the party, having been out of town for Mother's Day. Nevertheless, I managed to keep clear of all news sources, shushed my brother before he could spoil the result this morning, and I just finished watching the replay on Match Day Live.
I'm conflicted about what I saw.
I'm still trying to figure out what my lasting impression is. I was encouraged by the first half performance. It wasn't pretty, but the possession and the defensive organization were significantly improved. Hell, even McTavish was doing pretty well. And we even managed to get some good chances on frame rather than blasting them miles wide or over the bar. On the balance of play, the first half went to United.
That said, the biggest problem that struck me was the consistently lame wing play. Castillo sure can crank a free kick from distance, so I'm wondering if he'll ever have a decent go during the run of play. And don't get me started on the holding...holding...cut it back...hit an early, wasted cross. Of course, if we're comparing his crosses to whatever that is that Boyzzz is trying to hit...
Fast forward to about minute 55, when Dallas finally started finding gaps through the middle. At that point, I was overcome by the creeping inevitability of it all. It only seemed a matter of time before the breakthrough came for them. Follow that with what came off the bench. Quick, lively Avila looking to run at defenders and cause problems for them; stodgy old Emilio jogging on for us to do...nothing. I think his little warmup routine was about the quickest thing he managed.
And that's where we really fall short compared to much of the league. Others can bring attacking strength, speed, and danger off the bench. United? We get slower...slower. More technical, in the case of Moreno, yes, but with the game stretched and defenders tiring, that's where you want to bring on somebody who can really exploit the gaps. Moreno's not a bad choice either as he can hold the ball while runners get forward. But there have to be runners with intent and capability.
But that does seem like something that can be fixed. I said before that I felt conflicted. Part of me wants to point at this match and say, "See? Same old, same old. They hold, then they punish." But another part of me, despite my overwhelming feeling that this is still going to be an awful season, wanted to find something positive here. There was a nebulous "something" that felt different about this team.
Maybe it's the belief that a win engenders. I've long been saying that confidence was one of the biggest issues during this terrible start. Whatever the case, I think the best I can say is that we were competitive, organized, and had enough chances to win the match, much less earn a road draw. That must count for something, right?
How about we close with a few quick hits?
* I've defended Morsink in the past here on FBF, and I still think he's a reasonable third option, but if he's a starting central midfielder when late summer rolls around, we'll be even more doomed than I think we already are. He's just not good enough. And he compounds that by his constant thuggery and bitching at the refs.
* I wonder what the refs have against Cristman? He was getting mauled at times with nary a whistle. The few calls that were made were for obvious, cardable offenses. Weird.
* Bum Hammy Hammer strikes again. This is getting ridiculous. Accountability?
All right. I'm off to visit the RSS feeds to see what the rest of the blogiverse thought.