Who Am I and Why Am I Here?
Greetings from Estadio RFK's training grounds, where the weather is warm, the sun is out, the spirits seem incredibly high and the press corps is doing some major MLS stat crunching for tomorrow's advance. More on that later.
Wanted to give a quick introduction. Many of you know me from the D.C. Sports Bog, our sort of offbeat, irreverent look at local sports. Many of you might not realize that I used to be an actual reporter; my last beat was Maryland football and George Washington/George Mason men's basketball.
Well, for the next month or so I'm going to try to be an actual reporter again. I'll be filling in for Goff in his absence, both in the paper and on the Insider. I'll be doing much, much less of the goofy stuff I've done on the Bog, although some of that might slip in here. There are a few concerns you might have:
1) I still have to post over on the Bog, and I'm already pledged to certain non-DCU events. For example, Sunday afternoon I'll be in Landover, which means another reporter will be at Estadio RFK to file the match report. I'll also have to go out to Ashburn for several Redskins practices, and to Ballston for the Caps, and so on. But I'll do my level best to keep some regular D.C. United reports flowing on the Insider. Soccer editor Jon Denunzio will also chip in with some national and international thoughts, and Goff will be with us from China. Since the Insider clearly has the most articulate and cleverest commenters of all our sports blogs (and I'm not just saying that), I trust that we'll manage to keep this thing going until Our Leader returns.
2) I'm clearly not an Insider in the sense that Goff's an Insider. So, for example, I won't be posting player ratings after matches. I haven't seen every game this year, and I'm just not sure that would be fair for me to do. If any of you want to form an executive committee and e-mail me your ratings so that I can create a composite, I'd be happy to tabulate and post the results. E-mail me if interested. Obviously, this requires a certain level of dedication and sophistication, so only contact me if you're serious.
Now, for actual soccer stuff. Tomorrow's advance will attempt to discuss Tom Soehn's substitution and lineup patterns, and whether this year's side will be fresher heading down the stretch than last year's. A few numbers for your consideration.
Through 23 MLS games last year, five DCU players had started all 23 games. Through 23 games this year? Zero.
Through 23 MLS games last year, 15 different lineups had been trotted out. Through 23 games this year? Twenty-one.
Through 23 MLS games last year, DCU had fielded the same lineup in consecutive MLS games eight different times. Through 23 games this year? It's only happened once, in the Dallas-Chivas back-to-backer that just wrapped up.
And even in those games, Emilio, Ben Olsen and Jaime Moreno all had early trips to the bench (not always happily, I might add).
I'll have some player and coach comments about this in tomorrow's paper, but for now I ask you, do you support Soehn's approach? Do you worry about a lack of consistency with all the changes? Do you think the team looked burned out at the end of 2006? Do you think this year's team looks any fresher?
Oh, one more stat. Through 23 games last year, DCU had 13 wins. Through 23 games this year, DCU also has 13 wins. But you might recall that in the final nine games last year, DCU only recorded two wins. We'll see if this year turns out differently.
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