So I guess the preseason doesn't actually mean all that much?
DC United fell to the Kansas City Wizards 4-0 and suffered their worst league loss since the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2005.
There was not a damn thing that was attractive about this game for United. Their best scoring chance of the match came just 5 minutes in (of course off the foot of Moreno). The midfield was absent for much of the 90 minutes. And the defense... I've got too many words to choose from for that defense. Awful. Disgraceful. Reprehensible. BAD!
Being the only blogger in the country that actually picked DC to win the MLS Cup, you would think that I would be able to find at least one reason to be optimistic though right?
Well yeah. Actually I've got three:
1. The defense will improve. I mean at least it can't possibly get worse! Defensively, this looked nothing like how great we were playing the preseason. There's a reason for that. Wallace-Jakovic-Talley-Simms is far from our best backline. The arrival of Juan Manuel Pena will do wonders for this defense. And Dejan Jakovic will look like a much better player with Pena next to him. Also, Clyde Simms hasn't played right back in years (and didn't play there once even during the preseason), and Julius James has never played there for us. Look for Devon McTavish to start at right back next week if he's healthy and look much more comfortable.
2. That field was really small! And a small field doesn't fit our possession oriented style very well. United adapted by taking a more direct approach, but it didn't suit them well, and they just looked lost for the entire first half. If only we'd hired a head coach who was more familiar with that field. Oh wait...
3. Onalfo tried to get cute. I don't know why, but for some reason Curt Onalfo thought that this would be a good match to experiment? Usually I would think that playing a road match against an opponent with several new players who you've never seen before would be a good time to be fairly conservative with your lineup. Onalfo, on the other hand, thought it would be a good time to give a 17-year old kid his first league start, and play one of the most consistent central defensive midfielders in MLS out of position. Huh? Don't do that again please Curt!
Player ratings after the break.
I'm doing something different this year because I don't think vodka bottles are quite as appropriate for a nationally renowned blog network (although vodka is certainly appropriate to consume tonight). So my new player rating system will grade United players on a scale from 1 to 5 for their contributions in this match. Not every player is graded because I only grade players who made significant positive or negative contributions.
The sophomores continued their good form from last year. I was shocked that Rodney Wallace looked to be the best defender on the backline, despite this being his first professional start in that position. He probably could have done better to shut down the cross on the third goal, but he didn't totally embarass himself, which is more than I can say about every other United defender. Chris Pontius also should be commended for his hard work throughout this match. He became more involved when moved back into a right midfield role in the second half, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him playing there a bit more often.
I can see where some fans might have wanted to rate Troy Perkins higher since he did have several nice saves. But 4 goals? No, that's not cool. I won't fault him specifically on any goal, but he could have done better to hold onto those rebounds.
Newly acquired teenager Andy Najar had a couple of positive moments in his first match, including a long drooping shot that forced a fingertip save and almost led to a Chris Pontius goal were he not offside. But Najar failed to get involved often enough defensively. He was nowhere to be found on the second goal and it was scored by a runner on his side of the field.
Also in his first match with DC United, Christian Castillo didn't do very much to justify his being our only high profile international signing this offseason. I thought he spent just a little bit too much time on the ground. That's not our style of play here in DC.
The only times that we saw Kurt Morsink getting involved was when he was fouling the opposition. There's a big dropoff from Simms to Morsink in terms of ball possession, and I think that's where we really lost this one. Even DiRaimondo could have done better.
And how about that whole entire defensive group? Clyde Simms looked totally out of place on the right side of the backline (and that's because he WAS out of place). As much as I was worried about Simms once I saw his injury, at the same time I was hoping that Julius James would be an upgrade, but that turned out to be dead wrong. James was very much at fault on the second goal, and he should have to explain to his coaches why it was a good idea for three players to stand on top of Ryan Smith while Davy Arnaud was able to run free. That was your man James!
The center backs were even worse. Dejan Jakovic was erratic, and should not be giving up a handball in the box on a corner kick. And it was Carey Talley's giveaway in the 6th minute that led to the Wizards' first goal. We shouldn't have been surprised to see communication issues at the back, considering that Talley and Jakovic probably shook hands for the first time this morning. But whose idea was it to start a player who had just been signed by the club yesterday? That would be coach Curt Onalfo, and one of his many poor choices for this match.
Well hopefully next week I'll get to show you my new player rating banners for 4 and 5 ratings. Because it wasn't going to happen after this game. On to the next one. Let's all remember that there are 29 games remaining in the season. And a 4-goal loss doesn't affect us too much more than a 1-goal loss in the grand scheme of things.
But there is one thing I know for sure.
It takes a whole fuckin lot more.