I don't know how many more times I can watch this game. And it does all seem to be blending into one game doesn't it? United shades possession but never manages to look quite as dangerous as the opposition, with everything breaking down once they get within a sniff of the 18. Then a slip, a piece of skill, and United are down a goal. Suddenly, rather than United roaring back, the opposition are the ones with chances in spades, pinging posts, thwarted at the last moment.
Mind you, this is usually happening against teams as gun-shy or low on confidence as ourselves. So how about some talking points?
* Wing Night? Much has been made of the lack of a creative force in the Morsink-Simms central midfield partnership, but at this point, I think the midfield blame needs to fall more squarely on the wings. With two holders taking up the defensive slack and fullbacks looking to overlap, they need to become the fulcrum of the attack, running at defenders, putting them on their heels, making them commit. That creates space and opportunity for others. Instead, our wings either cut back and play negative, dance on the ball doing nothing, or hit the lamest of crosses to a box where two attackers are matched against five or six defenders.
True, I hear what you're already saying, "But a creative force in the center gets them the ball in better positions and pulls defenders out of position for the wings to exploit." Fine, but the clowns we're fielding wouldn't know what to do with space if it were given to them. I was smacking my head in the first half, wondering why Barklage can't get a look instead of Castillo or Khumalo, but as soon as he got in the mix, he went ahead and proved why he doesn't need to be starting. Awful. And as for Castillo? Blasting away from 40 yards on a free kick as time ticked down about sums up his deluded impotence. NEXT!
* Who stole Onalfo's balls? Seriously. That game was screaming out for any kind of attacking quality, particularly from the 55th minute on. We were starved for ideas and needed a change. You've got Jaime sitting on the bench. This is where he does his 30-minute magic sub routine, right? Nope. Instead of taking the initiative and forcing Colorado onto their heels (hmmm, sounds a bit like our tentative wing play, eh?), we continue the 2 d-mid v. 2 d-mid negation dance until...trip, slip, moment of skill, 0-1 to the bad guys.
Of course, then you naturally think, "Down a goal, at home, we're creating nothing, less than half an hour to go. Now we bring on the flair and quality and get back into this thing or go down all guns blazing, right?" But goddamn it if that joker thinks the "hard-working, gritty" stuff on the field is going to get the job done and fails to pull the trigger until we've got 18 minutes left. Ri-freakin'-diculous. I know United don't cut bait mid-stream (or whatever tortured metaphor you want to put in there), but how much longer can this continue? At least he seems to have the defense more effectively organized. Too bad he can't get both the offense and defense working at the same time.
* Speed kills. This has been a recurring theme over the past couple of years, but one we just never seem to have a grasp of. Every time Omar Cummings was on the ball I'm thinking "oh crap." And our defenders were doing the same, struggling not to be put on their asses. We just never look comfortable dealing with speed. And on the flip side, we never seem to have the speed to cause that "oh crap" moment for the opposition. Wallace had his moments last year, but his dribbling was never of a high enough quality to cause fits. Actually, come to think of it, there were quite a few times when our attackers were run down by Colorado defenders (oh, all right, mostly that physical specimen posing as a soccer player, Wynne) after getting in decent positions. There was a lot of noise this off-season about getting quicker and more physical. I'm not seeing it.
Any bright spots?
* Wallace and Graye both played pretty good games with Wallace looking more comfortable on defense and Graye limiting (for the most part) his mistakes on the ball. That's the one area where we shine physically at the moment, and, given a more confident, healthy team, we might be really exploiting a couple of promising attack-minded fullbacks.
* Hamid made one fantastic save in the late going from Cummings that I could have sworn was in the net. But somehow his leg shot out to kick it clear. Tremendous stuff. Getting beat near post on the goal? Tough to fault him there. The ball was hit low, hard, and right through Peña's legs.
* I still can't decide whether to love or hate Morsink. One moment you're screaming at the screen, the next he breaks up a play or hits a quick one-time ball with vision, and you go, "Hmmm, not bad." Then he dumps a miserable, hopeless ball over the top and you're screaming at him again. Can't fault the obvious effort though.
So does anybody really think a summer infusion is going to fix this thing? Maybe if the rest of the team somehow got healthy? Considering our woes in the fitness department, I'd say we've got the proverbial snowball's chance of that happening. I'm thinking back about now to all those off-season thoughts of how much different things would be without the congested schedule. Seems a pretty hopeless dream now, doesn't it?