Shades of 2010 | a DC United Match Reaction

Boy, that felt awfully familiar, didn't it? Makeshift starting lineup due to injuries/suspensions. Decent amount of fight and a few nice combinations in the middle third. Missed marks and poor one-v-one defending. Lack of a cutting edge. Undone on the counter. It could almost be 2010 all over again.

That said, biblical weather at altitude without half of the normal starters...Maybe not so much of a surprise to come out on the wrong end of a spanking, even if things looked pretty even up until 2-1. How about a roundup of talking points?

* Bye-bye Boskovic. So frustrating that he has those neat little touches and moments where he sees (and attempts) things nobody else on this roster can, but then there's all that time he's not on the ball. Barely making an effort on defense. Striding about languidly, or, to put it another way, not making hard runs off the ball. And the diving! I don't remember him going to ground so easily last year, but then maybe I was distracted by Pablo Hernandez falling over if the wind changed direction (speaking of another one that promised much technically, but just didn't fit the league). Boskovic has got to be fourth or so on the depth chart both out wide and in the middle. That's not good enough for a DP. Summer move back to Europe?

* Brasesco burned. Okay, so maybe he'll get better as he learns the league. Maybe he's more comfortable at right back. Maybe Folan is just a beast (he certainly looked the part — big, strong, quick, and technical). But Brasesco's footing/positioning wasn't great on Folan's first, and he wasn't exactly dominating the air on the second. All of that aside, I thought that Braseco and Woolard, though nowhere near the level of physically brought by the Rapids' forwards, did a decent enough job for most of the match. Things fell apart at the end, but considering they're not the starters and I'm not sure they've even played together in the middle in a competitive match, they held their own until...

* Things fall apart. Until the second goal, United might even have staked a claim to being on top in this game. They weren't giving up much defensively, only being undone by a moment of magic and some suspect defending at the end of the first half. We saw the fight we've come to expect, and the equalizer was a nice piece of play from Korb (with possibly the only good cross of the match save one Tino corner) and a good finish from Quaranta. But when that second went in from Smith, it was like United hit a brick wall. True, maybe the weather and altitude had an effect physically, but the crushing blow was the psychological one, combined with...

* Impact subs? Unless I missed something, I only saw a handful of touches from Wolff after he came on for Pontius, and only one of them went in a positive direction. This was the big problem last year. No cutting edge up top and nothing dangerous coming off the bench. Now, of course you have to look at Davies being missing as a big factor here, but where was the insistent, driving Wolff of his debut at RFK? For that matter, how long do we wait for Najar, also on as a sub, to start sparking again before we begin to whisper about the dreaded Sophomore Season Curse (something I've been worried about since those first few glimpses in pre-season)? Contrast, if you will, Colorado having the depth to go to Cummings off the bench.

Quick hits?

* Brettscheider looks a useful player, though not one that should be starting at this point. Can he transition his reserve scoring to the first team or is he just Cristman in a younger package?

* The Marc Burch plan of attack: cross first, get your head up and think later. Sigh.

* Should Onstad have come for the cross that Smith nodded in for their second?

* Is Woolard that slow or Folan that fast?

* If there's a d-mid that dives and bitches more than Morsink in this league, it's Mastroeni.

Be honest. When you looked at who we were missing and what we were going up against (and where), did you really expect to take anything here? I had outside hopes of riding a hard working defensive outing and the crappy weather/field conditions to a draw, but little more. Still, it stings to ship four considering we played decently enough for the better part of the match and even managed to find an equalizer.

The response this week (home in the Open Cup qualifier to the Union midweek and home to LA at the weekend) is a defining moment early in the Olsen Era. What response does he get and does the returning depth make the difference? I know it's still very early and this may smack of hysterical over-reaction (what else are fans/bloggers for? ;-), but to my mind, the answer shapes the season. Is this a brave new dawn or are the shades of 2010 rearing their ugly heads?


  1. The internet tells me that:

    2009 Colorado 3, United 0
    2008 Colorado 2, United 0
    2007 Colorado 2, United 1
    2006 Colorado 2, United 1
    2005 Colorado 1, United 0
    2004 Colorado 2, United 0

    In 2003, United managed a pair of ties.

    Last year, United won for the last time since 2001.

    We have a history of futility in Colorado. And as ugly as it is (I think it's pretty ugly, partially because I'm still angry Conor Casey was ever allowed to play for the US and partially because it really is ugly), Colorado does have a very effective attack. Yes, it was an embarrassing result, but given that it was the third and fourth string centerbacks with the third string goalkeeper and the second string right back and the second string defensive midfielder... not terribly surprising.

    Agree that recovery this week will be key. Not Ben-Olsen's-job key, but key.

  2. Comment #2: Really liked our forward and midfield players' pressing (for me, this includes even Boskovic) in the first half, you could tell that Colorado was getting frustrated by their inability to move the ball out of their own half. Wasn't sure what Ben's plan with it was, though -- would be perfect in a home game, but away at altitude against a team that depends on speed to beat you it seemed inevitable that United would get tired late in the second half and start making mistakes. Which is exactly what happened.

  3. For my money, Boskovic is much better for the team than Gallardo ever was. Yet, I seem to remember you defending Gallardo all of the time. At least Boskovic seems to actually care about his performances (as evidenced by his play in reserve league action).

    Speaking of the reserve league, with the exception of McCarty and Onstad, wasn't this the same lineup from our first reserve league game? I think that Olsen may have just chalked this up as a loss from the beginning in order to rest starters for the home stand.

  4. RE: Gallardo. Don't think that was me, Jeremy. I liked the idea of his talent, but not the product we were sold. Case in point...

    Don't get me wrong, I'd part with Gallardo pretty quickly. It's not that I don't believe in his talent, it's that I don't think he has any dedication to the cause, and that's going to effect what he can accomplish here. He may spew pretty words about the faith shown in him and how he wants to prove he's worth his salary, but actions speak louder than words. I'd have no problem letting that mess go and moving on.

    (Note: You made me doubt my memory so I had a quick search back through the archives and found a few glowing mentions, but mostly negative stuff about injuries and commitment.)

    I feel much the same about Boskovic at this point. Theoretically, his technical panache should compliment the aggression, hustle, and energy on the rest of the roster. In practice, the mix doesn't seem to be working so well. The reserve performances (to which I'm not privy beyond hearing somebody else's thoughts on the matter, so I don't rely upon them) are promising, but I've yet to see evidence in more than flashes.

    Don't get me wrong. I'd be delighted if Boskovic worked out. His ability to provide quick, geometrical passing is exactly the type of play I love to watch. I'm just not seeing enough of it.

  5. @rob

    Agreed on both sides of your pressing argument (though I didn't see the hustle from Boskovic — maybe blinders, maybe that hangdog look ;-). Through 70 minutes, I was pretty impressed with our play. Maybe that's why that last 20 left me with such a sour taste. I tried to get that across in the post, but I guess opening and closing on more negative notes drowned that out.

    And yes, I am aware of our history in Colorado. I thought the...

    When you looked at who we were missing and what we were going up against (and where), did you really expect to take anything here?

    ...line summed that up pretty well. No need to stat-flog me ;-)

  6. Yeah, sorry for the stat-flogging. It was as much to satisfy my own curiosity (I had the impression of general futility in Colorado, but didn't realize the specifics) as anything else.

    Gotta agree about Boskovic (generally). He seems like he should work out, and he's easily one of the best players on the team (probably the most technically proficient), but he seems somehow less than the sum of his qualities, which would probably point to "not a good fit with the system".

    He's not going anywhere yet, though, so I'm hoping that changes.

  7. No saw the smiley, right? I'm an American sports fan; stats are mother's milk to me.

  8. (Jeremy here... comment section doesn't work right for me from work...)

    I may have been mistaken, so I apologize. I remember commenting on a post where the blogger said something to the extent of "if you don't see it, you are blind, stupid, or Brazilian". Maybe it was D. I spread my anti-Gallardo vitriol around pretty well back then.

    BTW: I think that you did get the point across that you were generally impressed with the team until the break down. I think that everyone agrees with you there.

    I just can't get down about it, since even during our shield runs, we still lost in Colorado, and they were a pathetic team back then. I still think that this team is capable of giving a full 90 effort and I expect to see that this weekend against LA. If we get another late breakdown, I will change my tune.

  9. @Jeremy
    I usually don't attack readers like that...usually ;-).