Accepting the Inevitable | a DC United Match Reaction

It wasn't so long ago that Kevin Payne railed on about the likes of Colorado and New England making MLS unwatchable by playing a disruptive, counterattacking style that went against everything that Payne claimed that was good about United. So how's that picture look less than a year on? You want a mirror, Kevin?

The "Genius" of Onalfo. Now, assuming my three decades and change in the game haven't lied to me, the general tactical plan in soccer is to have an organized shape defensively and to use movement, both on and off the ball, and position-switching in attack to try and disrupt the organization of your opponent's defense, thereby creating chances to break them down and score. Did I get that right? Because Onalfo's plan seems to be employing a rigid attacking shape and to interchange positions order to confuse attackers? Huh? What? Instead of Seattle being punished for being static and narrow, they had more attacking possession, more corners, more danger than they should have carried.

A Tale of Two Rookies. Without seeing their physiques or bios, you'd be hard pressed to figure out which of our rookie starters is 17; Najar's decision-making on the ball is light-years ahead of Graye. And while I appreciate Graye's physical tools, ability to get forward, and generous upside, his choices when passing are often abominable, something I've been harping on for a while now. By the time he gifted Seattle the goal, his ill-fated distribution had already fashioned a couple of half-chances for the opposition.

One Brain Not Enough. Much has been made of Boskovic being the missing link in central midfield, and, upon introduction, things seemed immediately to go to plan. His touches were quick, confident, positive, and opened spaces for his teammates to exploit. The problem? Sigi's boys, Alonso in particular, recognized the problem and started killing the angles and the space around Boskovic, forcing the ball onto Quaranta's boots as the other creative "force" in midfield. Sadly, Quaranta's two settings seem to be (a) fire shots from distance and (b) try killer balls that don't come off. Not particularly conducive to building attacks and maintaining possession. In fact, after a 5 minute flourish, United reverted to the midfield of the first 70 minutes: starved of ideas, bereft of runs, narrow, predictable, tame, and boring.

It's gotten to the point now where my reaction to Seattle's late winner was less heartbreak and more a muttered, weary curse and grudging acceptance. Acceptance that this team is going nowhere. Acceptance that we've been reduced to a disruptive, counterattacking team that can't score, can't keep the ball, can't create enough danger to even worry defensively shoddy teams like Seattle. Najar and Jakovic are the two bright points in a dim firmament. Maybe Boskovic can add a third when he settles, but that's still not enough to light a path to the post-season. Eyes on the prize boys: the Open Cup is your only shot at winning squat this year. Good luck with that.



  1. When Graye passed the ball right to Nyassi's feet, I said, "Great, again." When Montero crossed and Levesque headed it in, I said, "Of course" and threw something across the room.

  2. Nice to see some fresh blood out there tonight at least.

    I thought Boskovic looked interesting, might be able to provide more of an attacking thrust than King or Simms.

    I thought Hernandez fell over way too easily.

  3. Amen about Quaranta. I've always been a fan of his technical ability, but skeptical of his creativity. He's just not as sly as Jaime, or even Najar.

  4. Actually, I think Pontius and James deserve a shout out. I totally think Pontius would be thriving statistically at another club right now, he has many positive qualities. And how many times did James take the ball from Montero or snuff out a threatening situation? I lost count. He's really coming into his own. We need to find a goal scorer, that's for sure, cuz we can't act like the defense is our main issue.

  5. For all the struggles United and Onalfo have had this season, this game was the first to really confuse me in a Soehn-like way. On such a hot humid day when you are planning on introducing your two new signings why start Jaime when you know he can't play 90? I get that he was going to be removed for Hernandez, but what happens if there are injuries or cramps early? Plus Jaime is probably the 5th best forward on the roster presently. He just doesn't have it anymore.

  6. A goal scorer isn't going to add much when we can't keep the ball or get it into dangerous positions consistently. Here's hoping Boskovic helps with that.

    And defense is a team effort. For most every incidence of Jakovic and James's heroics you can point to a blown clearance, failure to pressure a passer/runner, or poor shape/positioning. Sure they deserve kudos for their efforts (and I really should have mentioned James's performance), but they're being called on far too often.

    Dancy said... "For all the struggles United and Onalfo have had this season, this game was the first to really confuse me in a Soehn-like way."

    Interesting, particularly given that we're worse off in the league and don't have a congested schedule to blame. Lowered expectations?