I was admittedly distracted by the Capitals playoff game while I was watching DC United's 2-0 loss to the Chicago Fire. So maybe I missed the continuous improvement that we were supposed to be seeing every week. Maybe United actually played some really attractive soccer and I was just too preoccupied to notice it. Maybe the team had some great chances and were only kept out of the net by miracle plays from the Fire defenders.
But I doubt it.
Because I'm pretty sure what actually happened was that United was once again toothless in the attack. It wasn't Dykstra, Conde, and Brown that thwarted United's offense; it was a total lack of creativity.
The defense actually had their best game of the season. Well they did for 79 minutes at least. They fell at the end as a result of giving their opponents too many chances. And then rather than fighting back and pushing for the tie like that other DC team, they gave up another undisciplined goal that never should have happened.
What else went wrong? Tell me if this sounds familiar...
And it was also the case of Steve Nicol bringing on a substitute who changed the tone of the match, while Curt Onalfo failed to make any noticeable adjustments
Now take out Nicol's name and add in Carlos de los Cobos. Just like Kenny Mansally came off the bench for the Revolution and scored 2 goals, Brian McBride came on for Chicago tonight and immediately assisted Pappa's goal, then scored himself just minutes later. Meanwhile, if you weren't watching closely, you wouldn't have even known Onalfo's second half substitutes of Adam Cristman and Boyzzz Khumalo were on the field.
Read on for more punishment.
Both fullbacks Rodney Wallace and Devon McTavish had decent matches. Each got involved in the attack whenever possible and did well to shut down Chicago's wingers. Although I'm not sure where McTavish was on Pappa's goal, so I reserve the right to make adjustments to his rating.
The high school junior Andy Najar did not disappoint with his first appearance playing in the middle of the park. Despite being the shortest player on the field, he won two headers on corner kicks, and looked composed.
The two center backs Carey Talley and Julius James were tough to grade, because they each had some good moments and some bad. Talley had a great first half, and won many defensive headers, but he missed the one that mattered most when he allowed McBride to beat him for the final goal. James also played fairly well in the back, but he put two free headers over the bar on corner kicks. We really could've used those. Onalfo is going to have a hard decision next week, as only two of Talley, James, and McTavish will be able to start.
Troy Perkins continues the nightmarish start to his season. He didn't have a chance on the first goal, but definitely should have done better on the second. Meanwhile, zero shots on target from our two forwards Danny Allsopp and Jaime Moreno is unacceptable.
I always look for positives to take away from losses, and I'm in a generously good mood thanks to the Caps victory, but I'm still struggling to find very much that was worthy of praise.
Well I guess the attendance was a positive, once again eclipsing 18,000. I wonder how long these strong numbers will last though if the team continues to be terrible. Another positive is that the football lines are now gone from the field!
But seriously, the defense did play well for 79 minutes. Despite many Fire possessions in the box, the defense managed to either prevent shots, or force shots leading to easy saves from Perkins. Also, I thought Castillo and Wallace worked well together on the left today, which was certainly an improvement from previous weeks.
Maybe the best news of all: This season is now one week closer to being over.