How then to take a draw delivered on a plate by an incompetent ref fooled by a dive?
There will be those that point to heavy legs after three matches in seven days. There will be those that point to Arena’s Galaxy specializing in 1-0 wins even without their best player. Some may even shrug and nod in the direction of two second- or possibly third-choice rookies (plus Marc Burch) on the back line.
All true to some extent, but then what to make of an incredible lack of decisive balls from midfield, an attack that was largely narrow and static, and giving up a goal on a header direct from a corner to a guy who is what, 5’8”? And let’s not forget that we very easily could have surrendered a stoppage time winner when Franklin came steaming onto Magee’s cross with a big chunk of net to aim at but skied the finish.
That would have been a fitting end to a night that was 90+ minutes of misery with one pinprick of light provided by Davies from the spot…after a bit of professional play-acting.
Some talking points…
- I’m going to say this again because it pisses me off to no end. How does Magee score direct from a corner? With his head? Mike Magee? I’ve been harping on the set piece defending since we got our first glimpses of this team in pre-season, and it hasn’t gotten anything like better.
- Santino Quaranta never sees a low-percentage through ball he doesn’t like. I’ll forgive him the red card. Stupid to give Okulaja the chance to send him off, but at least he was giving his all for the cause. What I can’t forgive is the near constant conceding of possession through wasteful passing and holding the ball too long.
- I was actually not too hard on Burch in my notes. There might even have been a mention of a good ball or two…until he hit three balls in a row into touch just when DC seemed to be building a little momentum in the mid to late second half. Sigh and shrug, that’s all I can do. And while I'm at it... I love Jakovic's potential and the threat he poses when stepping up from the back line with the ball at his feet, but he made some terrible decisions with the ball tonight. There comes a time when potential's not enough any more and progress needs to be made.
- Lots of running, too little quality. Until Boskovic. I’ve been hard on him of late, but at least he brought precise, well-struck balls from midfield that found gaps in the defense. I do have to wonder about Benny waiting so long to bring on Najar and Boskovic. My halftime notes said “Davies for Wolff, Najar for Quaranta.” Thought we might have seen some earlier looks to the bench when we weren’t creating much.
- Shades of Moreno on Davies’ chipped PK down the middle, and, credit to him, he got into a dangerous spot, felt the slightest bit of contact, and made Okulaja make a decision. Since Abbey usually makes the wrong one, that’s a pretty good tactic, even if it’s done with a wink and a nod towards the “rules.” I suppose that’s what strikers do, right? That said…am I the only one who winced a little when he went to get in the car as part of his celebration? Sure, he’s a kid having fun, but still…
So what message am I left with here? Do I praise the late equalizer from 10 men with a mini injury crisis in defense coming off three games in a week? I’ll admit that, as much doom and gloom as I was feeling through almost the full 90, I went 180 degrees when that ball nestled delicately in the back of the net. But when the euphoria wore off, as much as I want to think there’s a different character about this team and as much as I want to believe that we’re taking baby steps in the right direction, those specters of last year loom large. Surrendering a cheap early goal. Not creating enough in the final third. Wasteful in possession. And that late, late Franklin chance… Had the fates been looking a different direction the roller-coaster from despair to exultation would have plunged right back down into the trough of despair.
I suppose it’s of some small comfort that this team is doing enough to keep me guessing and asking questions. Are they gritty comeback specialists just beginning to come into their own? Are they the type of team that’s unlovely to watch but somehow manages to get results? Are they eking out points on a long, slow march to competence?
Are they just lucky?
There’s that old saw that says you make your own luck, and maybe that’s the difference. This team, for all its faults, can manufacture a bit of luck when they need it. Or, failing luck, penalties…