The long drive home from the Meadowlands this evening/morning provided ample time to assess the match and United in general. First, the ratings:
Perkins 5; McTavish 5, Boswell 5, Vanney 5, Burch 6.5; Fred 5.5, Carroll 5, Simms 5, Gomez 5, Gros 5; Emilio 5. Subs: Addlery 4, deRoux 5. No one was awful, but no one other than perhaps Burch (who thumped some nice long balls and held up well defensively) and Fred (until the red card) made a difference. I'm sure y'all will differ, but that's my unemotional, detached look at things on this night. Indeed, Boswell and McTavish were beaten in the air on the goal, but the back line did not yield much else over 90 minutes. Gomez had his moments, but squandered a clear chance. Emilio didn't see the ball much. Perkins was not seriously tested and not at fault on the goal, but his distribution was lacking.
In the big picture.....
*As we discussed a few months ago and should probably revisit again, United is a good team, but certainly not a great team and, at the moment, not a championship contender. When shorthanded, particularly at that withdrawn forward position, they labor.
*The young attacking players aren't getting it done. Addlery does not finish well. Kpene, when healthy, is confident on the dribble but can't finish. Moose is a promising player but has yet to seriously influence a match and now is sidelined. Dyachenko has been disappointing, especially considering the club reacquired him for a first-round draft choice.
*B. Carroll is late reacting to pressure and has not distributed the ball as well as he did the past two years. Simms is a nice player, but again, does not stand out. Gros is clearly more comfortable in midfield than defense, but still not much of an attacking threat. When given space, Gomez remains a superb distributor, but when crowded, he tends to disappear and struggles to replicate his MVP form. Olsen's grit and determination will only go so far in energizing the midfield.
*Contrary to some of the things I've been reading in the comments here, United's back line is not worse off with Vanney rather than Erpen in the back. It's just not that much better than before. Boswell has had his ups and downs and McTavish is progressing nicely. If and when Namoff returns, does McTavish return to the bench? I like Burch on the left -- big, strong, powerful boot -- but in the long run, is he the solution?
*The Brazilians Fred and Emilio can turn a match in United's favor in an instant, as we saw in Kansas City a few weeks ago. Without steady service, however, Emilio is neutralized. Fred is finding his way and taking more initiative, but needs to continue building chemistry with Gomez. When healthy and motivated, Moreno offers the ability to hold the ball and alleviate pressure from Gomez, Fred and Emilio. He does need to become more of a danger in the box.
So now what? My hunch is that the front office has reluctantly come to the realization that this team must change if it is to make a run at the league championship and be successful in international play. Is Veron the answer? (And could they really afford him?) The midfield could certainly use the Argentine's bite and sophistication. Or should the club be pursuing another experienced forward or flank player?
Your thoughts are always welcome here.....
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