According to a writer of the Mid-Atlantic Soccer Report
, DC United, among others, are playing on a completely different level than the rest of the league. I whole-heartedly agree and certain games this year you've seen games that resemble a high school varsity team versus the freshmen (see DC vs. NYRB).
Watching the Columbus game I couldn't help but think that DC sometimes plays like they are the varsity team v. the freshmen. What I mean is that they are expected to win most games and play without any urgency because, well, they know the goal will come eventually. This game for example: They started the game flat as is they felt like they were going to just steamroll over Columbus without any effort.
It wasn't until right after the Columbus goal that DC showed what they are capable of. For their goal, which defines DC soccer, Jaime Moreno started with a gorgeous dibbling display and laid it off to Freddy Adu who ripped a low shot that GK Jon Busch couldn't hold on to and Christian Gomez was there for the clean-up goal. Team play, a little one-on-one, a hard shot and the follow-up if need be are things that define the DC offense.
DC seemed for a little while that the fire that they were playing with after the Columbus goal would lead to multiple goals for themselves. Unfortunately, they couldn't find that last pass to finish Columbus off and in the second half they just got tired.
Towards the end of the game I would've liked to see Jamil Walker come in for Jaime Moreno. I know he was having a great game, but he's always been prone to getting tired early. Everyone was tired and Jamil's speed could have been the deciding factor. I would've also like to see Domenic Mediate come into the game for...hmm...Christian Gomez. Adu and Gros were playing great and Gomez's touch was failing him at the end. Mediate would have been brought on for his fresh legs and ability to get forward (at least from what I saw last game).
The problem is that Novak can't keep changing the line-up. I understand if someone's injured but he can't change the roster every week because the players can't form an understanding of each others' playing styles.
Now the problem is also what it has always been: the defense. That first goal was a defensive mistake but more than that, it was a goalkeeper mistake. Troy Perkins was a step to slow in coming out to stop Joseph Ngwenya's goal. Ngwenya easily chipped the ball over Perkins for the goal. It's always easier said than done but Perkins should have stayed on his line and forced Ngwenya to not only beat a trailing Josh Gros, but also force Ngwenya to have to hit a tremendous shot to beat him. I think Perkins learned from his mistake because later in the half Jason Garey had a similar play but instead of coming out to meet him, Perkins held his position and forced Garey to shoot the ball. On that play Perkins made a great save. Some of you might think that Garey's shot was close to beating Perkins, but I say that I trust Perkins to save those shots more than I trust Perkins to come off his line and time it so that he can stuff the ball when the opposing forward already has control. If Perkins had come off his line to meet Garey, all Garey had to do was either chip the ball like Ngwenya or tap the ball towards the endline away from Perkins and use his speed to catch the ball and have a shot with a wide open net. All I'm saying is that while Perkins makes mistakes, it looks like he's at least trying to learn.
Now the defenders. When I look at the DC backline, I only see two true defenders. Bobby Boswell and Facundo Erpen are the only players that have the ability to shut a player down completely. Namoff (to me) is more of a defensive midfielder. He had an incredible game but still when I think of the defenders of DC, he doesn't come to mind. I wonder if DC would be better off putting him in Olsen's vacated position and acquiring another true defender.
That's another thing. Who will replace Olsen. It looks like there's a massive void in the midfield that DC is trying to fill. Whenever the opposing team has the ball it seems like everyone is covered except of a solitary player that Olsen would have pressured. DC looks like at times they are playing with ten men when the other team has the ball and they are scambling to chase down that extra man. I understand putting Filomeno in that position (offensive player to overwhelm Columbus) but Novak should've known that forwards generally aren't very good defenders and to put him in that position was borderline reckless. DC began to regain control of the game when Simms was able to help Carroll. In my opinion, Mediate in Namoff's position and either Simms or Namoff in Olsen's position may help the defense settle down.
To sum up this game, Novak didn't use his subs effectively (i.e. leaving Mediate and Walker on the bench), Novak's continually changing of the starting line-up disrupts the consistent play that DC United needs, and finally the DC players have to stop thinking they will win every game and actually start playing like they want
to win every game. I know you are supposed to be happy with points on the road no matter how many, but would anyone out there be satisfied if we tied Real Salt Lake or Chivas or New York? I didn't think so.
Next game is a biggie at Kansas City on Saturday the 27th at 8:30 pm (ET). They will be seeking revenge and DC should be seeking to find their game against a World Cup depleted Wizards team.