Guess what? United are a middle of the road club. They slot in somewhere between the also-rans like Chivas and the league elites like Seattle. Hard to find these last couple of results shocking when you put things in that perspective, is it? Nor was it surprising to see United struggle offensively in their first game without their second most influential attacking player1.
Some things to think about…
- Is there an MLS side that carries less of a threat from crosses than United? Given that lack and the tendency of all United wide attackers to cut inside, opposition defenses have the immediate advantage of having to defend a quite narrow attack. They can basically ignore the areas wide of the box in their own final third and quite comfortably pack the middle. Small wonder United’s threat revolves around counterattacking at pace when defenses are not allowed time to set up.
- Brandon McDonald has been a terrific mid-season addition, but he didn’t have a game to remember. Any other fingers to point? Woolard’s lack of pace. Simms doesn’t have the wheels or tenacity to play Lone Ranger at d-mid. General lack of coherency in attacking play, particularly linking up with forwards (at least while the game was still a contest).
- When Pontius went down, I’d been thinking metaphorically of a missing link in the chain connecting De Rosario to Davies. The image never inspired enough to generate a post, but I think you saw it here. Da Luz may have the passing chops, but he plays to deep and can’t threaten on the dribble like Pontius. Najar causes problems on the dribble but not so much with his passing. Ngwenya is neither link nor finisher. So that leaves De Rosario trying to form two links of the chain to the poacher himself2.
- I just mentioned Najar’s causing terror on the dribble. Strange then that United weren’t looking to consistently isolate him against Wahl, not exactly the fleetest of left backs in the league.
End of the world? Not really. Seattle just happen to be among the best in MLS at the moment, and United aren’t in that lofty company. Should it have been closer despite that gulf in class? Probably. Was it useful to have both Davies and the team brought down a peg after last week’s comfortable win in preparation for their stretch run to qualify for the post-season?
I guess. But then what exactly is the point? Clearly, United aren’t good enough to win MLS Cup. Is it enough to put reaching the playoffs out there as a milestone, a learning experience for the young core of the team, something to use as a pushing-off point for bigger and better things next year?
Maybe. Kinda flies in the face of the De Rosario acquisition though, which seems to be more about winning now.
Double…no…wait, let’s make this a result-specific triple ugh…