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The Aftermath

So I am guessing you were probably a little disappointed with United's listless performance at Houston last Sunday, right? And I'm think you were probably embarrassed and disgusted by a loss to a USL2 team in the Open Cup, yes? Soooo, how ya feeling about a three-goal meltdown against Dallas at home?

Not a good week for the boys in red and black, eh?

Blame goes all around for this second-half fiasco. I touch on many of the issues in my game report.

Clearly, the Vanney-Erpen trade is not working out as intended, although I don't know if things would have been much different with Facu back there in a wide-open match. Perkins had an uncharacteristic howler, and he knew it, taking blame for the first and third goals. I know Kpene is a rookie, but when you are one on one with the goalkeeper and you have a chance to essentially clinch the victory with 20 minutes to go, you've got to do it, son! Kpene still hasn't scored this year, despite a number of opportunities.

Well, I am sure you have a lot to say on the matter, so go to it. But first, player ratings below and bonus quotes much further below to enhance your reading pleasure.

Perkins 3; McTavish 4, Boswell 4, Vanney 4, Gros 4; Carroll 3, Fred 6, Gomez 4, Olsen 4; Moreno 6, Emilio 6. Subs: Kpene 3, Simms no rating.

(On the injury) Goody [the trainer] said it's not too bad. Hopefully it takes only a week, but with this kind of injury, you never know.
We were attacking and as soon as we got that three-goal lead, maybe we got a little too comfortable. They started coming at us, we had some extra chances to put it away and we didn't.
You are never comfortable with any kind of lead. We could've been up 6-0, the way the game was going, we really couldn't keep the ball very well and it just comes down to two mistakes on my end. I'll take the blame for this one.
(On the final goal) I heard them both coming and I just didn't get enough on the ball. If anything, it was the slightest touch and it didn't do any good.
We got three goals, but we weren't keeping possession well. It was kind of against the run of play - three good goals - and they just found a rhythm there after we scored and we couldn't break their rhythm.
Generally, through the whole game, we weren't great at possessing the ball. Even the goals we scored, I think we kind of got off the counterattacks and caught them with a lot of numbers forward and we were able to get the ball up front to Jaime and those guys to do their thing and we hit them on the break. I never thought we really got into a rhythm with keeping possession all night - that was part of the problem - and then we got the third goal, and I don't know if it coincided with Jaime's injury or what, but it seemed every ball that dropped on the field they were first to it. They had a little bit too much time, they were picking off passes, we were scrambling in the back and a couple of occasions where the communication between Troy coming out for balls and us clearing balls wasn't good and somehow they got in between us and finished goals. As soon as you give a team one, two goals and they believe they can come back in a game, they are going to send the whole kitchen sink and we didn't hit them back on the break to make it 4-2, which would've finished it off.
After they got one goal, it goes back to that dangerous two-goal lead and anything can happen.
We didn't keep enough possession. We kept giving away the ball after one and two passes, it drained our energy, it gave them life and gave them more opportunities and they put them away.
Early on, we took advantage of them and the more we tried to do that, the less we kept possession the more we tired we got, the more possession they got and the easier it was for them. They have some guys that, with some open space, can be dangerous and we just let that happen too much in the second half.
We strung ourselves out and it turned into a race. You attack, we'll attack, you attack, and then when you have a three-goal lead, you have to be smarter than that.
We're a team about being disciplined and organized and trying to stay compact, and we didn't do all of that.
We had a lot of chances. I am disappointed in the fact that we turned it into a track meet instead of being smart and disciplined because they had to chase the game and take chances and it was going to give us opportunities. We didn't manage the game well, and I think that's what I am most disappointed about.
Speed and space, we gave them way too much space and you don't even need a fast guy to expose you when you leave that much space.

By Steve Goff  |  July 15, 2007; 12:19 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Next: Gone Fishin'.....


The Vanney for Erpen trade is looking quite dodgey right now. I didn't understand it when it went down, but was willing to give DCU's front office the benefit of the doubt, because they're usually excellent. Doesn't look like this trade is going to pan out for them.

The need to bring in a good player on defense before the transfer window closes is readily apparent. A good central defender with some speed or perhaps a dominant defensive midfielder. I know, I know: United has a number of defensive mids, but I don't think any of them are playing well.

Posted by: noptov52 | July 15, 2007 12:52 AM | Report abuse

I don't find myself that upset... it was a really wide open game the whole time and it happened that they got their 3 after we got ours. I may question the tactics to play so open, but the tactics got us 3 goals so it's tough to complain too much.

What annoyed me more was Kpene. I was watching a fuzzy picture online and would only get excited about a scoring chance when I could finally tell it was Emilio and not Kpene.

Posted by: RB | July 15, 2007 1:03 AM | Report abuse

Oh - and it's great to see Moreno really back (in both senses)

Posted by: RB | July 15, 2007 1:04 AM | Report abuse

Jamie on the field = + 3 goals

Jamie off the field = - 3 goals

Posted by: Roy Stevens | July 15, 2007 1:32 AM | Report abuse

Seems the Erpen-Vanney trade is going real well....for Colorado.

Posted by: Garret | July 15, 2007 1:34 AM | Report abuse

After my (slightly drunken) tivo review... Vanney is at fault on the first two Dallas Goals and the foul that lead to the third goal was complete horsesh*t. Vanney is slow and out of position and got used by Carlos Ruiz.......Toja needs a haircut.
We lost two points at home that could hurt later.

Posted by: Rocko | July 15, 2007 2:51 AM | Report abuse

a nice night at RFK despite the draw, nice crowd. Especially surprised the amount of people that were into the game, cheering, standing, songs breaking out not only on the barra brava side but also on the traditionally quiet side.
Jaime was in great form, guess the copa america call up did more for his confidence than I would've expected.
good game, poor result.

Posted by: cooper | July 15, 2007 2:54 AM | Report abuse

First half vs. second half was night and day. Our dominate possession game in the first half was almost boring as we kept passing it around in our midfield with Jaime leading the occasional attack...resulting in three very well played goals. The first half team could win the MLS. The second half team would struggle to win a pick up game on the mall.

I don't put any of the blame on Kpene. In a 3-0 lead Kpene should have been the last man we needed to think about. Besides, the potential that this kid has is incredible and he positions himself and sees the field very well, this was the best time to have him in the game when we shouldn' have had any pressure on him to score a goal.

For me the low man on the field was Carroll. If you don't think he had an awful game go watch it again. He sucked big time. At one point in the second half he dropped something like 6 passes in a row and did nothing on the defensive end. Vanney didn't play well but Carroll was god awful.

Time to regroup for Houston and the big and scary Yellow Mexican powerhouse.

Posted by: Southeasterner | July 15, 2007 7:29 AM | Report abuse

"Seems the Erpen-Vanney trade is going real well - for Colorado"

Yup, it's going great for them. They haven't won since the trade and haven't even scored a goal. Big check mark in their column.

Look, we can all sit here and blame Vanney all we want but the bottom line is United played stupid soccer last night and got caught up in a track meet they are not designed to win. Had Perkins played his normal steady game that is an easy win for United.

I'm pissed too that they blew this game but the season and the trade doesn't hinge on this one result.

Posted by: A Rickey | July 15, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

dDCU should look at this as a point earned and not lost points. The ref's missed several calls that really hurt Dallas. Dallas dominated this game and should have won, we should be happy we escaped with a single point instean of zero.

Posted by: United man | July 15, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

"I don't put any of the blame on Kpene."

I absolutely put some of the blame on Kpene (although of course not all of it). He seemed absolutely worthless out there - it seemed that every time we got him the ball, we lost possession. I thought he was a significant part of problem in keeping possession during the second half. Throw in the missed 1-1 with the goalie opportunity, and I think Goff's "3" is generous - I would've given Kpene a 1.

I'm hoping he simply wasn't sharp after the time off with the injury, and you gotta allow rookies some bad games, but I'm definitely a little less excited about his potential now than I was before the game.

Posted by: CLew | July 15, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

"I'm pissed too that they blew this game but the season and the trade doesn't hinge on this one result."

I certainly don't think the season hinges on this one result. However, Vanney has not looked remotely good in any match for United. Granted, it is a small sample size, but I haven't seen anything about his game that gives me hope.

He seems particularly ill suited to be combined with Boswell, because both lack good speed. Erpen isn't exactly fast, but he's a burner compared to Vanney.

Posted by: noptov52 | July 15, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Re: the trade, A Rickey writes "Yup, it's going great for (Colorado). They haven't won since the trade and haven't even scored a goal. Big check mark in their column."

Were you expecting Erpen to score goals for them? Are you expecting Vanney to score goals for us? Pointing out how few goals they've scored since they got Erpen -- especially since during that time they've been missing their top goal scorer, as well as four other players from their starting lineup -- is intellectually dishonest.

How about talking about how Erpen and Vanney have played? Or talking about something each *does* have some responsibility for? Colorado's defense has given up one goal in those three matches.

Posted by: Bootsy | July 15, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

You probably can't blame him for the loss, but I was really disappointed in Kpene. After being frustrated watching Addlery the past few weeks, I was really glad to see Kpene in uniform last night. And being up 3-0 with 55 minutes left is a great situation to bring him on to get back into gametime shape. But when FCD switched to the 3-4-3 we really should have been able to create some additional chances.

I agree with the player ratings, except that Moreno should be higher.

I wonder why when we're up 3-0 and 3-1 and 3-2 do we keep booting the ball down the field on goal kicks? It would make more sense if we would take some short passes out of the back to maintain possession.

Posted by: Shatz | July 15, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

The Vanney for Erpen trade is a disaster. The "sample size" is enough to demonstrate that Vanney adds nothing that Erpen didn't have and lacks Erpen's "speed" and athleticism. Vanney is past his sell by date and that won't improve as he "settles in." Bad trade that weakened DCU.

Carroll cannot play D-mid in this 4-4-2. He lacks speed, size and bite. Couple him with two very ponderous center backs and Perkins is a sitting duck. His howlers were the result of poor play and bad communication in the backline. He simply thought he had to fling himself at anything near the goal because the defense -- starting with Carroll -- was being shredded. The only one on the backline last night who even looked mediocre was McTavish.

After last night and the KC match that Perkins and Emilio won single handed. Expect more meltdowns like this as the season progresses as MLS coaches realize DCU's center is weak and can be broken down quickly and totally by simple Route 1 football.

Without a D-mid with size and attitude and/or a significant upgrade in the back, DCU is going nowhere in the playoffs -- if it makes the playoffs.

Posted by: griffin1108 | July 15, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

It's nice to see the blind rage toward Erpen also transferred to Vanney...

Posted by: RB | July 15, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

How can we have progressed as a professional sport and still make statements like 'I can't blame Kpene" for missing a critical one on one that almost certainly would have clinched the game.

This is not rec league; this is professional. Players should be held accountable and there should be pressure placed on players not performing.

When was the last time your boss told you don't worry if you get to a critical deliverable or not.

Too often the criticism of MLS has been that games during the regular season are treated too casually and their is insufficient urgency to win.

United stank last night. Their play showed
a lack of professionalism and poise to manage and close out a game.

I am still fuming at the Technical/Coaching staff for the ridiculous decision making on the US Open Cup game. Not giving the Open Cup its due is unconscionable. It's up to Sohn no to play starters, but if his team fails - he should be bounced. If I ware any of the folks who went up to PA to watch United play and they put that team on the field, they should demand their money back.
Again, that was not a "professional" team out there. It happened mid week and it happened again last night.

Posted by: nick | July 15, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

The Erpen for Vanney trade has been everything I expected it would be.

Amazing the two or three balls Vanney passed straight to Dallas didn't lead to goals.

Vanney can't play on the left, too slow. If Vanney cannot match up at all in the center against the likes of Ching and Ruiz, we're up the creek when he has to take on Johnson, Twellman, Altidore, and Angel.

Oh, and where's all that "service" predicted by everyone? His left foot has been worthless.

Great job "organizing" the defense last night, too.



Posted by: JayRockers! | July 15, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Goff, when you get a chance, can you remind us of what you were told the rationale for the Erpen-Vanney trade was (contract considerations, foreign player restrictions, etc)? Please and thanks. Any info appreciated, especially your opinion on other mitigating, if off the record, reasons.

Posted by: ? | July 15, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I think Soehn is every bit as indictable as anyone else. How could he not give the defense some help up 3-0 or even 3-1? He has Simms, DeRoux, and even Jeff Carroll on the bench to help out the defense and Soehn subs in Simms in the 90th minute? At 3-3? That doesn't even begin to make sense. The players aren't without fault, but the tactics and personel on the field rest squarly on the shoulders of the coach.

Posted by: gomez4prez | July 15, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

"How can we have progressed as a professional sport and still make statements like 'I can't blame Kpene" for missing a critical one on one that almost certainly would have clinched the game."

Umm we were up 3-0, in almost every league that would have been a game that was already "clinched". A statement that blames Kpene (an offensive sub) for losing a game where we were up by three points seems to be a little more ridiculous.

Posted by: Southeasterner | July 15, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

If you really miss Erpen that much I'd be more than happy to buy him a ticket to send him back.

Posted by: Allen | July 15, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

You know, hindsight is always 20/20, but I think once we got up 3-0, that would've been a good time to bunker down. Instead, it seemed that DC was trying to win 6-0, and kept pushing forward. Of course, Dallas took advantage and countered well.

Posted by: jrnail | July 15, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only who thinks United should switch to a 4-5-1, or even go back to the 3-5-2? Bottom line, our midfield has been garbage of late, and throwing another body there will hopefully compensate for the complete absence of anything resembling speed in our defense.

Or perhaps just consider switching to a 4-5-1 when United has a lead, particularly a 3-0 lead... Based on our regular starting line-up, this would mean subbing Jaime for Simms (or Carrol, depending on who's starting) to have 2 DM's on the pitch. Leaving Emilio (or Kpene/Addlery/Dyachenko etc) alone up top to receive the ball and eat up the clock. If Fred/Olsen get gassed, bring in McTavish and swap him and Gros, putting him back on D, and Gros on the Wing. There are plenty of different combos that can be worked, most of them would result in a much more difficult defense to break down.

Posted by: AlecW81 | July 15, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

My VCR watched this match on CSN last night, and I got to watch it earlier today. At one point in the middle of the second half, they displayed a summary of the scoring to that point at the bottom of the screen. Did anyone notice that they listed Erpen, rather than Boswell, as assisting on one of the goals?

Posted by: Go Penn State! | July 15, 2007 5:44 PM | Report abuse

I think the reserves really need a gut check. Poor performance in US Open Cup, and poor performances when they get first team shots. These guys really have to have more heart when they get their chance to play with the first team.
If you are Kpene, and get your shot at first team action, you bust your butt and you finish your opportunities. Maybe I could forgive him for getting unlucky, the keeper makes a good save, but what really really got to me was his lack of effort. There were countless times where he needed to make a run to get open for Fred and just stood their. When they did find him, he lost the ball. Really, when do you give someone a 0. There are no excuses for how he played and I honestly do not think I'm being harsh.

Posted by: Sean G | July 15, 2007 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone catch the two shots that Gomez completely sailed over the crossbar? We all love him, but he had just as many chances as Knepe and came out with the same result.

Posted by: JKTek | July 16, 2007 12:41 AM | Report abuse

First I must say I was wrong about Moreno. He has upgraded his play and he should be starting; he showed that Sat. night. The minute he went off United could not hold the ball in the attacking zone, and it was all downhill from there.

Kpene, it seems to me, does not have the ability to play at the MLS level. Dallas defenders effortlessly knocked him off the ball time and again. He contributed nothing. Is Addlery hurt?

I don't think Brian Carroll had as many bad giveaways as Emilio and Fred did. Those two were giving dangerous balls away all night long, especially in the second half. Yes they got the goals but we sure had to do a lot of desperate defending because of those two.

Vanney was a real minus. he can't defend, and he can't organize. Otherwise, it was a great trade. >:-(

Soehn has to take a lot of the blame for this one, though. You are up 3-0, you gotta get your guys to defend first.

Posted by: Ron | July 16, 2007 6:29 AM | Report abuse

If I were to quibble with Goff's ratings at all, I'd give Moreno a "7" rather than a "6". His play lifted the whole team. As Steve wrote about him in the profile on the paper, Moreno seems rejunvinated. The offense runs so much better when he is out there. Here's hoping his injury is not too severe.

Posted by: Dsmac | July 16, 2007 7:49 AM | Report abuse

"Kpene, it seems to me, does not have the ability to play at the MLS level. Dallas defenders effortlessly knocked him off the ball time and again. He contributed nothing. Is Addlery hurt?"

Um Ron - Kpene definitely has the ability to play at the MLS level. He's a rookie that had a bad game (albeit a pretty atrocious one!). Did you see any of his appearances before he went down with the hamstring pull? He had earned himself a starting nod in Jaime's absence and was unlucky to come down with the injury five minutes into that game. I think he'll be fine.

Addlery would not have been a better option on Saturday. He has had one solid game over a string of absolutely ho-hum appearances. He is a reserve player at best - probably more appropriately a USL1 first teamer (hey, wait a minute...).

And nick - lighten up. Skipping the US Open Cup in a year in which United is competing in THREE international tournaments is hardly unconscionable nor an indictment of the unprofessionalism of the team.

Posted by: DE | July 16, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

"Did anyone notice that they listed Erpen, rather than Boswell, as assisting on one of the goals?"

After a Dallas player had a bicycle kick, Lagerway quipped that he didn't think he'd see one with Erpen gone.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | July 16, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm still trying to digest this:

1. We have a 3 goal lead in the 2d half, at home.

2. Our defensive midfielder has a couple of national team caps and, while not a likely candidate for South Africa, has justly been looked upon as one of the better players in the league at his position.

3. Our new central defender is a national team veteran, all star, solid, experienced,etc etc etc. No crazy bicycle kicks to his keeper from him.

4. He's paired in the middle with the reigning MLS defensive player of the year.

5. Behind them is the reigning MLS goalkeeper of the year.

6. We blow the 3 goal lead.

Posted by: Dave | July 16, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Brilliant analysis Dave. Rarely does sarcasm bite so harshly.

Posted by: LeesburgSoccerFan | July 16, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

On the bright side of things, I thought our offense looked good. Fred's goal was outstanding. Now if we could just find a way to hold a 3 goal lead. Is that too much to ask? As much as I like BC I have to agree that he is not well suited to playing the destroyer type d-mid that is more needed in a 4-4-2. Toja bullied BC, and many other players, all night.

Let's hope the team takes a lot out of this and learns that they need to use as much energy to defend and hold a lead as they do to get the lead. Everyone describes this as a "track meet" in the second half and that may be true, but it was a track meet that Dallas invited us too and I think we took the bait.

Posted by: Dan | July 16, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey DC front office we want are designated player. Stop messing around, and get us guys who can actually play.

Posted by: DC United Fan | July 16, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I miss ErpFucito.

Posted by: David | July 16, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Overconfidence Case Study (ought to be mandatory reading):

1966 World Cup. North Korea runs out to a 3-0 lead over Portugal in the first half. In the second half, the North Koreans did not play to protect the lead. Eusebio took the game upon himself, and scored 4 second half goals. Portugal won 5-3.

BTW, this was the first "Game of Their Lives" and was a documentary rather than a Hollywood re-telling. If you have a chance to see it, it's worth the time.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | July 16, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

how about making a flippin sub. when your up 3-0 and then scored on once, then twice, dont you think he should try to right the ship, get some fresh legs in there..i think soehn gets some blame

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

"Skipping the US Open Cup in a year in which United is competing in THREE international tournaments is hardly unconscionable nor an indictment of the unprofessionalism of the team."

Totally disagree with this point. There are at least four pieces of silverware that United ought to take seriously every year: MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield, US Open Cup, and CONCACAF Champions Cup.

These trophies are there to be won. "Skipping" the Open Cup, or even losing in the way we did, is not conscionable and is arguably unprofessional. Starting with the coach and the lineup, DC United should have taken that game more seriously. I think they must know that, and I hope they remember it next year.

Posted by: Joe S. | July 16, 2007 6:38 PM | Report abuse

"I think they must know that, and I hope they remember it next year."

We hope for that each year when they are dumped by a lower division team. But they don't. It's not a priority of the organization.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | July 16, 2007 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Hey DC front office we want are designated player. Stop messing around, and get us guys who can actually play.

Posted by: DC United Fan | July 16, 2007 02:36 PM

Dear DC United Fan...

Any "DP" have more goals than Emilio right now?



Posted by: JayRockers! | July 17, 2007 8:20 AM | Report abuse

IMO, Brian Carroll has not been Brian Carrol since he went to Europe during the off-season to explore/pursue other opportunities and the Euros all said "Thanks, but no thanks"." Then he came home empty-handed and with a huge chip on his shoulder and probably felt like he had to settle for something less when he re-signed for DCU. Goff, Anybody... Did he get an upgrade on his contract or did he get the same or less? He's been very dissappointing this entire season, even beginning with the CCC he showed no heart.

All you Facu haters wipe the egg off your faces, please, you look ESTUPID!

Posted by: Soy United! | July 17, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

"Hey DC front office we want are designated player. Stop messing around, and get us guys who can actually play"

Speak for yourself. I think most of us are actually against DCU acquiring a designated player. Unless it were to mean that that would be the only way of keeping Gomez here next year. It would depend on who the player is, but I think it would disrupt the chemistry of the team.

We're all being pretty hard on Kpene (me included), and rightfully so for the most part after that game. But one poor game doesn't mean that he can't perform at the MLS level. I'm inclined to think that he was probably not yet fully recovered from his injury. He still deserves to be ahead of Addlery on the depth chart. And if Moreno is injured this weekend, I'd rather see Kpene start than Addlery.

Posted by: Shatz | July 18, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

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