DC Loses: What I, and All Y'all, Saw

Here's what I saw, with the commentary of some sharp thinkers helpfully sprinkled in the text:

- CD Chivas de Guadalajara was not a better team last night. I thought that applied to the first leg if only on a player-to-player level, but, till they tired around the 75th minute, DC looked pretty damn good. And they owned the first half.

- DC looked best working the ball up the field, though they looked more comfortable once the ball left the defense (Facundo Erpen's corner of it in particular; still good for a shocker, that guy). But DC worked the ball well, they found openings, and, for fair chunks of the first half, had Chivas pinned in their own end. The final breakthrough eluded them - notably when the ball came down the wing for Clyde Simms, who as Steve Goff points out, is ill-used at that position - at least until it didn't...

- ...speaking of which, there are a lot of adjectives I'd apply to Jaime Moreno's standing bicycle - clever, inspired if I'm in an expansive mood - but "spectacular?" "High-light reel?" It wasn't that good. But the way it came showed Luciano Emilio's quality, who, as at least one smart guy pointed out, was smothered for much of the game. The take-away is that Emilio is the kind of striker you want on your team, one who can hurt the opposition the one time he slips free.

- Not a few noticed DC's defense getting stretched from time-to-time, especially when what I read as serious fatigue set in (take notice Houston; the lungs will burn more still 3,000 more feet above sea level). The best comment I saw on this, from USSoccerplayer.com's Ian Plenderleith, puts it best:

It wasn't another 5-0 hiding like the one this club suffered at Pumas two years ago in the same competition, and at least the MLS team took the game to the home side and caused them a few jitters by taking a 1-0 lead. Jaime Moreno's brilliantly improvised overhead kick wasn't enough, thanks to the kind of elementary defensive errors that can, at times, be a United specialty."

- I bolded that part because I think DC survived most of these. The crucial, second goal was a pure gaffe, of course, but Perkins kept the score close on at least three, if not four, other occasions; when Moreno said the loss wasn't Perkins' fault he wasn't kidding. And, in spite of what Max Bretos or Christopher Sullivan said, I don't think Bobby Boswell "lost his mark" on the first Chivas goal either (and I disagree with Goff's assertion in the Washington Post's main write-up that this was an "easy goal"; Bautista had to adjust to get the shot around a sliding defender); Erpen got beat around the corner and Boswell moved to cover, which seemed sensible enough. What I'm getting at is that there were more gaffes that could have bit DC; that should be a worrying sign for them. Perkins' thing was an awful, and as I see it uncharacteristic, fluke. The other was a fairly routine break-down. But, as DCenters pointed out, DC only became really lose at the back toward the end. The point is, they'll make mistakes, but they do cover pretty well when they do.

- Turning to a perennial obsession in these competitions, I think it's fair to say DC's approach to the game and wholly competent execution opened some eyes south of the border. Based on stray comments I'm seeing, Chivas knew they had to fight for lsat night's win; more to the point, they appreciate that they got a little lucky.

- I think the favorite thing I read about this game all week appeared in the comments on The DCenters first impressions post; it was written by a Matt W:

"I'm looking forward to SuperLiga competition. And I'm a little let down that we have nothing but domestic league competition for the next three months. This must be how Celtic and Rangers fans feel."

Don't get me wrong, because I love Matt W's moxie and I also believe DC will do well this year, but the folly of that statement returns to the defensive issues I suspect DC will continue to have. The lesson for the rest of the league in last night's game is this: be patient with DC; they will make mistakes at the back, especially when you force them.

All in all, I was sad to see DC drop this game. I still believe they have a better shot at winning it all than Houston (though I can't wait to write the "We're all Houston fans today" post if they do win), but it just wasn't meant to be. Perkins' major gaffe and the earlier, back-breaking goal aside (as if those can be merrily excused), DC played a very good game and they look like they'll be a handful this year. And they have every right to return home with heads held high.


Chris said...

Their first goal was one of the down-sides of playing the 3-5-2. We were stretched... Erpen should not have tracked his man out that wide on the right with Olsen and Caroll pushed forward at the same time. There was absolutely NO cover. Boswell stayed with his man until the last possible moment, and BN was actually there at the last second too. If Erpen stays home (recognizing both D-mids were out of position), he could have delayed, instead of chased.

I thought with a 1:0 lead and 5 minutes to go, Tommy should have had BC drop back and "Stop" for the final 5 minutes instead of continuing to push. In that role, BB would have been able to immediately come over to cover Erpen. A simple adjustment with the intent to get into half time (and a well derved hit on the O2 tanks), would have been warrented in my opinion. Goals just before the half are back breaking.

Of course, had we played that well at home, this would be a non issue, or at least we'd have taken it to OT down there. That home game was garbage. We really should have had at least a 1 goal lead - or in other words, allowed room for error. We MUST win at home. In league, in tournaments, in playoffs... period. All Champions do it.

Erpen continues to be the woman of this team (can't live with, can't live without). He's amazing 1v1, and an hell of an athlete, but holy crap he gives the ball away too much!

I am very proud of the team though. We put a scare in them, and won a lot of respect. I'm dissapointed we're not advancing though, mostly because we played well enough to have deserved to be there. It's almost harder to take than losing 5:0... but not really.

The Manly Ferry said...

I can only say to anyone who visits: that comments constitutes a really sound breakdown based on what I saw.
That's some sharp analysis on the goal, Chris. Thanks for dropping it in.