Friday, March 28, 2008

MLS/Conference/Team/Game Previews (and the rest of life) Preempted by New Edgell Supporter

After 9 months (37 weeks to be exact) of heavy recruiting a new Edgell Supporter entered the fold yesterday at 7 lbs. 7.4 oz. and 19 3/4 inches and 3 weeks early. We could not be more excited about our first child, a healthy little baby girl. Mom and baby are fine and ready to support DC against KC tomorrow. She must have wanted to get here before the season started.


Vamos United! and cute little baby girls

Friday, March 21, 2008

Dick's Now Officially Supplying Beckham Shirts

"Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. is the official sporting goods retailer of Major League Soccer as well as 10 of the league's 14 teams under terms of a restructured deal, the parties said Wednesday." (source)

What are the chances there will be DC United gear at Dick's now? I'll tell you that a few months ago the chances were 0% on DC stuff, but 110% on outfitting every citizen of Fairfax County with a David Beckham shirt. I should probably stop complaining, money coming into the MLS by any means is a good thing, and besides DC has a team store in RFK now.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

That’s what you’re supposed to do (Result: DCU v HVFC Leg 2)

DCU 5 HVFC 0

Wow. That was fun. This is how DC United should be performing against this kind of competition. Not necessarily 5 goals, but definitely 3 and crushing the opponent when they are down.

Let’s start at the back. Wells had one fantastic save and otherwise played a very consistent game. I like his distribution at the back throwing the ball as often as he kicked it. Burch’s crossing bombs are great when he has time and he seems to be getting faster on the ball. He did not play with the ball at the back this time around. Namoff seemed to do ok; he was always the furthest away for me so I didn’t get to see much. Martinez is calm and makes some great field switches. Peralta is big and mean and I love it. I was encouraged to see that our center backs were stopping the attack near the midline sometimes.

Now to the middle. Simms made some strong tackles in the middle but at times seemed to drift one way or the other too far. To make up for his drifting, he positioned himself in a way to pick up errant passes from others, which were not few. Fred got a slow start but as Gallardo drifted out wide he got a little more involved. Somehow Fred also got a second wind towards the end and was taking the ball from everyone in the middle. Beautiful back heel assist and great composure on his strike. McTavish… Mickey T… he could indeed be our best option on the right wing depending on Olsen’s health. He worked hard and was in the right place at the right time, not only in the attack but also on defense where he was able to shut down service multiple times. Gallardo got knocked around a bit and quite hard several times. For that reason I’m still going to give him awhile before I pass judgment one way or another. He seemed to get pushed off the ball rather easily and rely on finesse rather than hustle. Still his flashes of brilliance especially with balls over the top give me hope.

The attack. Emilio was not great on the ball in the first half. There were a lot of bad passes and questionable decisions. He was trying to play too much of the holding forward and he is just not that great on the ball. In the second half he and Fred started to regain some of their connection from last year and then Emilio cleaned up a deflected Quaranta shot. Niell works hard and he’s quick. He just happened to be in the game with the hesitant midfield, there were several times where he should have been released but wasn’t. He also draws fouls in great spots. I’d like to see what he can do with a more daring midfield.

The subs. Mediate (for Burch) did not look comfortable with the pace of the game. Dyachenko (for Gallardo) needs more time to get himself into a game. Santino Quaranta (for Niell) was fantastic. He was quick and he had vision, while everyone else seemed to be hesitant, he went at it. If he can repeat the performance, he could easily be the back up #10 and maybe the holding forward that we need.

RFK. The grass seemed a bit slow at least that’s what I’ll blame some terrible balls from Emilio and Gallardo on. There seemed to be a lot of missed passes early but they cleaned it up as we went along.

Facts and Reality for the 2nd Leg of DCU vs. HVFC

1. DCU advances in convincing fashion, with a measure of pretty soccer, especially from Mr. Quaranta.
2. Devon McTavish is the leading goal scorer and he does work, probably won’t hear any more complaints for me.
3. The midfield was ok. The early passes were off but got better as the game progressed. Still not completely sold on Gallardo.
4. No gnome noggin knocker yet, but we get a lot of work out of Franco Niell.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Round 2. Fight.

Tomorrow night is a big night for DC United fans. We get to return to RFK to see the Black and Red for the first time in 2008. We also get to sing (and curse the refs) our team through to the next round of the CONCACAF Champions' Cup.

DC United comes home with a 1-1 tie, an injured Jaime Moreno, a little experience together as a new squad, and the opportunity to win and advance at home. The field will be better, the stakes will be higher, and Harbour View may not have a few of their players, or their chef, due to visa problems. From HVFC's General Manager, Clyde Jureidini in the article:

"We know there is a problem, but let's find a solution. Explore diplomatic means to have national players and club players (avoid a similar situation)."

I would hope that no other means besides diplomatic are even considered. Is this is a threat from Jamaica? Let's hope Mr. Jureidini has no military connections.

Hope and Dreams for the 2nd Leg of DCU vs. HVFC
1. DCU advances. I would prefer some pretty soccer, but I'll take the next round any way I can get it.
2. More attack from the right wing. I like Devon a lot, he is our best utility man, I just want a little more offensive power on the right. Mediate? Quaranta? Kirk? Maybe Devon is our best option and I'm just dreaming.
3. Continued progress from Gallardo and the midfield. I want to see the midfield unit continue to get better, I'll take small steps, but no back steps.
4. A header strike from Niell. A gnome noggin knocker?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

STADIUM NEWS

Not THAT stadium, just good ol' Estadio RFK.

“Our hope is to get something finalized before the first game,” said Gregory O’Dell, D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission chief executive officer. “We recognize they are the primary tenant and we want to treat them accordingly” (The Examiner).
NBC4 and The Examiner are telling us that DC United and the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission still have not agreed on a lease for RFK this year. Everyone involved is confident that it will be worked out and if it does not get worked out quickly DC United will still rent on a month to month basis. The commission is calling us the primary tenant, so that's a good sign, right?

They Were Who We Thought They Were

Harbour View 1 DCU 1

Maybe it was because a work associate recently bought a black and red beta fish, named it DC, and it died yesterday, that's what I'm blaming the draw on. DC United looked like a team playing its first competitive match in a few months. All the signs were there; lack of fitness, chemistry confusion, lapses in focus and errant passes. There is not any excuse for this professional team to be playing at that level at this point, but at the same time, I understand why they were there. Credit must be given to Harbour View for the fast, physical, fit match that they played. As it has been said, "they were who we thought they were."

The attack rarely got out of the midfield building phase. When they did get the ball into the final third it was because of long balls from the back. Marc Burch put several very nice balls out front and Gallardo sent some down the wings. Moreno's injury (hopefully not too bad) and subsequent substitution left us wondering what might have happened. Emilio was mostly absent but it was as much about lack of service as it was about him getting to the right place. Franco Niell is definitely a hustler but we needed more than a one dimension attack to use his abilities.

The midfield controlled the game for stretches but also gave up a lot of balls. Gallardo is fitting nicely into the playmaking role but also goes a little too far back to collect balls. Simms does a fine job on defense but I he really needs to step up as a distributor in the attack. McTavish is a fine backup on the outside but as previously stated by DCUMD his strengths are in defense not on the attack. Devon did have a very nice goal though, great composure and a great finish. Fred had moments of brilliance but he did not have the connection with Emilio that was there last year. The midfield unit has to come together for this team to be a contender at any level.

The defense did ok. They did not get beat on too many occasions and when they did it was on the edge. The recovery speed of the central defense is much improved and there were not as many scary moments as we have grown to expect. Burch gave up at least one ball because he was playing around and he allowed service a few too many times. Wells did very well in goal and I really like that he is not afraid to come off his line to get the job done. The one time he did not come off his line though was on the Harbour View corner that resulted in a goal. It was not entirely his fault though because of the traffic in front of him and I think Burch and Namoff were the closest and nobody shut it down. The goal allowed would not have been so frustrating if it did not come during a period of time when it appeared that DC United had packed their things and were headed back to RFK.

For the way the teams played this was a fair result. DC United played a draw of a game and they left with the same.

Facts and Reality
1. Burch did have one opportunity but he sort of hit it into the crowd, this is just the start though, there are many Burch Bombs to come.
2. Gallardo I believe is credited with the assist after his shot went straight at McTavish who controlled it and then put it passed the keeper.
3. Los Gonzalos looked confident in the back and were able to recover well. Peralta stood up one of the Harbour View strikers in a one on one situation, I love that.
4. Emilio was mostly absent.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Campaign 2008 Begins

2008 will see DC United participating in 6 competitions (CONCACAF Champions' Cup, MLS Season, SuperLiga, US Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions' League, and the most important inter-team competition, The Ben Cup) with the possibility of Copa Sudamericana and the FIFA Club World Cup.

The campaign begins tomorrow night with DC United visiting Jamaica's Harbour View FC (HVFC) in the CONCACAF Champions' Cup. Harbour View is in 5th place in the Jamaican National Premier League overall standings, but are not showing as well currently as they sit 8th in the Round III of play (what does that mean? wiki wiki knows all). For HVFC striker Fabian Taylor, who is second in goals scored in the Jamaican league with 10, this will be his first game back from injury. However, Harbour View will be missing captain and central defender Christopher Harvey who is suspended because of a red card during the Caribbean Club Championships last year.

DC United will be playing their first competitive match in more than 4 months. Everyone will be healthy except Ben Olsen who would be playing on the right wing. DCUMD examines the right wing options of Quaranta, McTavish and Mediate and gives the safe start to Domenic Mediate. I agree with his analysis, so with Goff's unofficial travel roster, our starting 11 should look like this:

Wells

Namoff--Martinez--Peralta--Burch

Simms

Mediate------------------------Fred

Gallardo

Moreno----Emilio

I expect DC to come out and play their possession game without shying away from putting pressure on Harbour View's defense. Our offensive style should be a bit different with everything going through new playmaker, Marcelo Gallardo. I am looking for Clyde Simms to be strong in the middle to stop the speedy and fit Jamaicans from attacking up the middle. I am also very interested to see the play between Gallardo and Simms both on defense and in attack. Speculation (paragraph 9,10) says that the Harbour View game plan will be a counterattacking 4-5-1 but the coach says (paragraph 4,5) they will play a 4-4-2 and go for the win at home. Either way, DC should be able to put pressure on the HVFC defense and frustrate their attack enough to come back to RFK with a 2 goal lead in the series.

One thing DCU will not be able to win is the cheerleader competition.


Where to watch: FSC (Wed. Mar. 12 Harbour View (JAM) v D.C. United (USA) 8:00 p.m.)
Other previews: Quarter Volley, DCenters, Poplar Point Perspective, Harbour View FC

Hope and Dreams

1. Burchie Bomb
2. Multiple assists from Gallardo.
3. Clean, but very hard tackles from Los Gonzalos.
4. Emilio continues in his CONCACAF-goal-scoring ways.

Learn more about Harbor View:

Wikipedia: "Harbour View Football Club (nickname: Stars of the East) is a Jamaican football team, that currently plays in the Jamaican National Premier League."

Official Website: "Like David, minnows, Harbour View FC, the 2007 Caribbean Club Champions, will have to be very tactical in the first leg of the 2008 CONCACAF Champions Cup game at the Harbour View stadium on Wednesday if they are to travel to the RFK Stadium on March 18 with a good chance at slaying the giant D.C. United, and moving on to the semi-finals."

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

just a matter of time

Today Goff reports on the renegade scrimmage in Texas:

United won, 2-1, on goals by Luciano Emilio (assisted by Marcelo Gallardo) in the first half and Franco Niell late in the game.

DCU STARTERS: Wells; Namoff, Martinez, Peralta, Burch; McTavish, Simms, Gallardo, Fred; Moreno, Emilio. Subs: Niell for Moreno, Stratford for Simms, Quaranta for Namoff (McTavish moved to right back), Dyachenko for Gallardo. Red card: Fred in second half, but Mediate was allowed to replace him (just a scrimmage, folks).

This is exactly the report I want to hear, over and over again throughout the season with the exception of the red card and no mention of a Burchie Bomb.

The news is still about as important as it was a few weeks ago, that is to say not very, but I can feel the importance getting closer. It is merely an issue of time. If we just push this report into the future one week...

Yesterday Goff reported:

Clyde Simms, a returning defensive midfielder, has had to adjust to Gallardo, whose style differs from Christian Gomez, the playmaker the previous three-plus seasons. "Gallardo likes to come back and receive the ball more so than Christian did," Simms said. "He likes to get as many touches on the ball as possible. It's a learning experience." how it all works."

Soehn believes that, with time, his new-look team will find its old rhythm and be well prepared for next week's debut. "It's always difficult when you add new faces," he said. "But the guys we added are experienced and we have enough guys from last year who have a good understanding of how it all works."

I like that Gallardo comes back a little. I like that he wants the ball. The gap between Simms and Gomez was too big last year. That gap made our attack slow and our defense vulnerable. I hope that Gallardo will not only come back to collect the ball for the attack but that he will help slow the opposition while he is back there. Simms says we have a little bit of change to adjust to but Soehn says in the end we will be alright. Here's to believing.