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DC United lose to Toluca, 3-1

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I had my doubts about this lineup going in because it just seemed way too defensive. I'm in favor of continuing with the 4-4-2 formation for the duration of this tournament, but my vision of a 4-4-2 involves attacking wingers, and maybe a creative attacking central midfielder. McTavish and Allen aren't really what you think of in terms of attacking wingers, and Andrew Jacobson isn't really the most creative CAM either.

This would have been the perfect match for Danny Szetela. I understand he's in the doghouse, and obviously Coach Soehn knows more about why than any of us so I give him the benefit of the doubt, but it really would have been nice to see his creative skills on the field in place of any one of the previously mentioned midfielders. And if not Szetela, either Gomez, Fred, or Quaranta should have started this match. Oh yeah, and I guess Ely Allen is ahead of John DiRaimondo on the depth chart for now? I guess that might have changed after this match.

As for the back line, I'm fine with Namoff-Jakovic-Burch as our top lineup and Habarugira-James-John as our B squad. I'm also perfectly fine with Marc Burch as a CB in a four-man back. But if we have to add one of the A squad members to the B line each match, do we really want it to be Burch? Why is Burch more capable than Jakovic or Namoff at playing two matches per week?

As I stated, I liked the four-man back line. But from the 28th minute on, I was calling for Gomez to come in for Habarugira. Dude as AWFUL.

1. I've said before that some of DC United's best moments in 2009 have come from the combination of Santino Quaranta and Chris Pontius. These two immediately connected for a goal as soon as the Phoenix entered the match. I wonder if Soehn has been misusing these two in the regular season when he often puts Quaranta up top and Pontius on the right wing. It really should be the other way around.

1. Goal-saving play by Julius James in the 80th minute, and pretty consistently good defense throughout the match. It looked like he might have been the competent backup CB we've been looking for, that is until the deflection that led to the third goal.

2. There have been some mentions on this blog and others about the seemingly increasing number of giveaways from Clyde Simms this year. Well if you watch him closely, you'll see that he wins more balls than he loses. And winning balls is what the man is paid to do.

1. I've been a little bit of a Greg Janicki apologist over the past week, because I have tendency to believe that his terrible match against Marathon was more of an aberation than the norm. Because we've seen better from him before. Thefore I believe that the mistake by David Habarugira that resulted in an early goal for Toluca was much worse than the mistake by Janicki that resulted in an early goal for Marathon. Janicki's error seemed like more of a fluke mistake. I just don't get the impression that Habarugira knows any better! Maybe Wicks should have done better to call him off, but there's no way that goal would have happened with Namoff or Jakovic in that position instead. Habarugira also made several bad passes, left a man unmarked at the back post that led to a free header on goal in the 33rd minute, and earned a really bad yellow card early in the second half. I wonder which defender will have an awful match in our next Champions League appearance? My money is on Avery John.

2. Josh Wicks is usually pretty vocal, but I didn't see or hear him yelling "KEEPER!" to Habarugira on the first goal. He also misplayed the ball in the 80th minute, forcing a great goal-saving tackle by James. And the third goal was a bit unlucky, but if I'm going to blame any player for it, I might put some blame on Wicks.

3. Marc Burch got beat on the winning goal, plain and simple.

4. Removing Ely Allen at the 33 minute mark was more than just a tactical substitution in my mind, as the commentator suggested. I just can't think of one positive contribution that he made. At least it was good to see that it only took Soehn one third of the match to realize how poor his starting lineup was.

5. The more I think about it, the more I'm against the starting lineup used by Tom Soehn in this match. I've been definitively and consistently against the "Fire Soehn" crowd for all of 2009. This is the first match when I've began to consider how much longer I want him coaching this team. I just don't see how this lineup really had any chance of winning.

The next week and a half might be the most important of the season for us. Our road match against Chicago on Saturday is winnable. If they can lose 2-0 to the Beckham-less and Lewis-less Galaxy last week, I think we have a good chance of earning at least a point. And then Wednesday is of course the Open Cup Final (now offering $10 student tickets!), which has suddenly become the most important match we'll play in 2009 based on our nascent rivalry with the Sounders. The week ends with another winnable road match against FC Dallas. Earlier this week I wrote about how a long line of poor officiating has kept us from earning points this year. Now would be a really nice time for kharma to pay us back and shoot some luck in our direction for once.