Whatever else we think of August, it was better than July. But it still wasn't good, especially in league play. But we're not here to debate exactly what went wrong over the last calendar month: We're here to assign blame on a single individual for whatever it is that did go wrong (which was lots).
Last month, James Riley took the dubious honors, denying Ben Olsen the chance to become this year's first two-time "winner." Adding him to the list of honorees gives us the following -
- July: James Riley
- June: Dave Kasper
- May: Ben Olsen
- April: Every single attacking player on the team, jointly and severally
- March: Lionard Pajoy
This month's nominees are:
Dejan Jakovic: If I could name one nominee and leave it there - actually nothing is stopping me but myself - there's no question that Deki would get the nod this month. He had a horrendous August, losing focus at critical moments that allowed opposing attackers to get in behind (to score a goal) or deciding a backheel clearance is a good idea (and shortly conceding a goal) or being spun by a slow midfielder with one move to his credit and failing to close down the cross (which led to a goal) or failing utterly to shepherd a lone attacker away from the goal and instead allowing a cut back (which then became a goal). Jakovic has always had an incredibly high ceiling, and after last fall's run, we thought he might be approaching a consistent level of play. This year, and August in particular, has proven that it's not the case, and Dejan is who he is.
Daniel Woolard: Jakovic wasn't alone out there on the field for all those goals, and his partner center back surely deserves some of the blame for the shambolic defense we've seen at times over the last month. Most recently, he was in position to challenge Tim Cahill's game-winning header on Saturday but failed to make Cahill's shot difficult enough. When you're a slow center back who doesn't often out-jump players, putting in that well-timed nudge or being in the right place has to become your bread and butter. Woolard has had games where he shows that it has, but there haven't been enough of them.
Dwayne De Rosario: This isn't the first time this year that we've nominated somebody for Player of the Month and Goat of the Month simultaneously, but DeRo may have the best chance of claiming both titles of any double-nominee this year. For every moment that made us stand up and applaud, there were three that reminded us that one of the best players in league history just isn't quite what he used to be, at least not all the time. At times he tries to do too much, failing to compensate for improved defensive talent in the league as he tries and fails to nutmeg the opposition at a full run. And then he does it again. And once more for good measure. At this point in the season, United has other players capable of putting the ball in the net, and even though DeRo is very good at bringing other players into the buildup, when the critical moment comes, he still overwhelmingly calls his own number whether there's a better option or not.
The fullback corps of James Riley and Chris Korb: In a month where United's defense was the obvious weak spot, I had to find away to include all of the back four. This actually wasn't the worst month we've seen from the fullbacks - they weren't targeted nearly as much as our center backs, and they got into positions to help with possession and even send in a few decent crosses - but it's clear that the position is still a glaring need for the Black-and-Red. James Riley is still to often where good passing moves go to die, and Chris Korb is late tracking back entirely too often for a guy with his kind of pace. At this point in the year, it's apparent that both are starting by default rather than winning their places, something that will have to change going into next year.