Back to the Mean, Part Infinity | a DC United Match Reaction
(Your pardon is requested, señores y señoras; I've been sampling the vino tinto while half-watching the Vinotinto in Copa America as I compose this. Subsequent grammatical and logical failings will inevitably occur. You have been warned...)
And that, my fine feathered friends, is why we can't have nice things. Why every savory morsel of hope turns to ashes in our singing throats. Why we'll be drawing up our list for the Expansion Draft come November rather than watching United in the MLS Cup playoffs.
Sure you can point to the fact that the Revs have had our number of late (and are always difficult to play against at the best of times). But this is a Revs side low on confidence and wallowing at the bottom of the league. To be frank: they pretty much suck.
Which says what about a United that manages to lose to them at home?
Talking points, shall we?
* Yes, United had more possession, better chances, and even a spurned PK. But you can't ignore that the Revs were consistently getting chances, and not bad ones at that. The fact that they also consistently flubbed those chances spoke to both the latent danger and their lack of confidence. Robbed of Feilhaber, they resorted to lobbing balls in to Lekic, a tactic which shouldn't have troubled United as much as the quick counter and penetration of the midfield usually do. But it did. Still, it was when they got the big bodies forward for corners that the damage was finally done. The set piece defending has been better of late, so that one will sting, particularly not having a guy placed on the back stick for what should have been an easy clearance.
* I was forced to watch the Revs' coverage of this one, and Jay Heaps predicted Davies' PK miss from the booth. I had my suspicions as well about what was coming based on his body language and effort in the game to that point. Sure he managed to beat Cochrane and test Reis early on, but the defining moments for me were three killed attacking movements through indecisiveness and then De Rosario streaking down the right with his head up, pinging a ball across only for Reis and Alston clatter each other in their eagerness to get to the ball while Davies...Davies loped along without making much effort at all. I get that he has 8 goals (though half were penalties and that total should really be higher). I get that he's potentially deadly. I'd still stick him on the bench if we had any healthy (and quality) options. The effort and sharpness and predatory instinct have still yet to flower. How long do we have to wait?
Some tactical questions...
* Given that Clyde Simms doesn't cover the ground he used to and isn't an aggressive destroyer type anyway (witness Joseph dismissively holding off Clyde's efforts at challenges and the time and space available when we cough up the ball in midfield), and given that our wide mids are both dribbling attackers rather than two-way shuttlers, does a midfield diamond really fit our personnel best?
* Also, given the inability of our strikers to create chances for themselves consistently (and get said chances on target), I wonder if we shouldn't be playing with De Rosario (a player who can create for himself) closer to goal. While playing him as a second forward might rob him of the chance to make those damaging runs from deep, I'd like to see him given a free role off a high forward. Of course, then we're faced with not having a proper lone-forward type. Hmmm.
* Why was I consistently seeing United having five in our own half as the ball moved into the Revs end down the stretch? We were down a goal. Chasing the game. At home. Hard to find opportunities going 5 v. 9. We were keeping four back against one forward. Sigh.
* Ngwenya's touch is usually abominable, but he looked tidy tonight. Still didn't make great decisions with the ball, but he actually looked a proper player, if an overpaid one.
* Not sure I would have pulled Wolff before Davies as I thought the former was contributing more to the attack, but Wolff was still good for 2-3 threat-killing passes behind wide runners while he was on the field. Frustrating trend for a player morphing into a deep-lying forward looking to play guys in.
* I've been guilty of bitching about White's positioning. I think I'll take this opportunity to move on to his distribution, which was poor to say the least. He's still young, and he's got some decent tools, but I wouldn't hesitate to get Jakovic back in the mix when he's fully healthy. Jakovic has his own issues, but I'd like to see how he pairs with McDonald.
Is it too much to ask for a string of results? Is it too much to ask for solid home form?
Perhaps. United is still theoretically a work in progress, a rebuilding mission if you will. That said, it's hard to reconcile that theory with the De Rosario acquisition, which reeks of an urgency to win now. But do you really expect anything beyond lower-mid table obscurity and a failure to make the playoffs with diabolical home form and a decided lack of consistency the defining aspects of this team?
I wish I could say I was surprised at this result...