I sat down at the keyboard last night and stared at the screen. Nothing. I just couldn’t get jazzed to write a reaction piece. Some of that was because I could copy and paste many of my prior talking points. Some was because the match was pretty dull.
But the main reason was because the result was so infuriatingly predictable. Set aside for the moment United’s inability to string consistent results together1. This is MLS. This is no-holds-barred Parity Police action.
Draw was writ large all over this one from the outset. The only surprise for me was that I expected United to score first on the counter and then surrender a late goal through a moment of defensive stupidity.
Having just lobbed the “defensive stupidity” hand grenade, allow me to address the goal. Was Jakovic not strong enough against Nyarko? Of course. But to claim he was terrible given that one incident is to ignore the body of good work that preceded and followed it. Though his distribution didn’t always match his casual killing of dangerous moments and advancing from defense with the ball2, in the main I thought he had a pretty good game. Instead I choose to focus on Woolard’s poor clearing header and a quality finish past a keeper who might have done better (odds that Willis would have given the limited body of his work we’ve been exposed to?)
On the other end, I’m sure Quaranta’s being in the box to assist on Wolff’s (offside?) equalizer will be used to highlight King’s weaknesses going forward. While I agree that King didn’t have a stellar game, I think some attention has to be paid to United’s away tactic being to sit two deep in midfield, limit chances, and look for Najar and Pontius to be the creative engines down the flanks and pinching into attacking midfield areas. Also, if you weren’t worried that Simms was going to see a second yellow when he was robbed of his King-shaped cover by the Quaranta substitution, you weren’t paying attention. He was fortunate to only receive one yellow for two gridiron tackles on Grazzini.
I don’t think it’ll surprise anybody when Davies rides pine on Sunday. His futility was summed up by having the ball at his feet with one defender between him and goal. Result? Hesitate. Hesitate. Try to beat him on the dribble. Fail. Rather than worry about if we can hang onto him post-loan, I think the worry for me is that we will and we’ll overpay in the bargain. He’s young. Maybe someday he’ll be a quality player again. Right now, even with 8 goals, he’s not. Whiny petulance and diving are par for the course in modern striker-dom, but there’s usually some quality against which to balance these negatives.
The larger worry in the context of attack is that we’ve got precious little else. There’s a reason we have to play De Rosario up top. Sure, sure, Wolff finished his chance and continues to infuriate by doing One Good Thing that negates all his uselessness otherwise and brings him back to equilibrium on the loathe-love scale. Given that we have the danger-trident of Najar, Pontius, and De Rosario able to drag defenses around and penetrate on the dribble, even a semi-reliable front-man would do the job as complement. Josh Wolff, Mr. Semi-Reliable? Not sure that gets you to the post-season.
Bum Hammy Hammer strikes again. Pathetic
Olsen wins the subs battle. Klopas seemed intent on removing his most dangerous pieces, while Benny’s moves paid dividends. Also, credit where credit’s due for heads not dropping.
Yes, yes, better finishing by Chicago and we’re singing a different tune. But there’s a reason for their current cellar-dwellling status.
Hey, John Harkes and Rob Stone. Remember when you announced that Pappa had been subbed out? How come you kept saying that he was creating space for himself and getting shots off? Was that from the bench? (sigh)
There’s more, and I’m sure you’ll let me know about it in the comments or the email (for the publicity-shy amongst you), but that’s about all I can scrape up for now. KC on Sunday provides a similar test (athletic, problem-causing front- and flank-men; keeper capable of astonishing saves; short rest period) and I wouldn’t be me if I weren’t wearing my eau de pessimisme (stuff reeks, but it’s more than often appropriate to the occasion).
I’ve seen the unrealistic expectation of 6 points from these two road matches bandied about the blogosphere and am wondering just what some of you folks are imbibing, inhaling, etc. Sure, Chicago suck, but they’ve always been a tough ask for United and are draw-merchants to boot. Likewise, KC have problems, but they’ve also been doing reasonably well in the league of late and have the tools to cause problems, particularly in their new house.
Given injuries, fixture congestion, jack-booted Parity Police, and that United are a middle of the road team to begin with, two points from six seems a much more likely outcome (and one that would still see us in a good position for a playoff run after five games unbeaten). Setting my sights too low? Perhaps, but maybe riding the mean rather than being dragged back to it is precisely the platform United needs to build upon.