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The Aftermath (aka The End)

United's got this regular season thing figured out. Now if only they could learn how to win in the playoffs again.

Sure felt like Chicago 2005 all over again in that first half and New England 2006 in the second half. United made a game of it at the end and nearly forced overtime, but let's be honest: The damage was done before the break, just like two years ago when the Fire smoked 'em at RFK.

Mystifying how a team playing at home in the most crucial match of the season can have such game-altering breakdowns. Interesting how Boswell handles himself so well when he has time to anticipate a situation and step up, but falters when he is called upon to react to a sudden crisis. Should Soehn have yanked McTavish after Game 1? I also thought Perkins did not show enough leadership in the back, which led to some of the problems.

Spirited comeback by DCU, relentless pressure (just like last year vs. the Revs in the conference final), but not enough. As for the disallowed goal at the end, gutsy call by Marrufo, but accurate -- Gomez steered the ball with his arm into position to score. And if you felt United should have gotten that call, keep in mind that Perkins should have been whistled for a penalty (and possibly a red card) for upending Carr just inside the box earlier in the half. Instead, Chicago was awarded a free kick just outside the 18.

Okay, player ratings:

Perkins 4; Namoff 4, Boswell 4, Vanney 4, Burch 5; Olsen 5, Simms 6, Gomez 6, Fred 6; Moreno 4, Emilio 5. Subs: Dyachenko 6, McTavish 5, Addlery 5.

Game report here.
Video highlights there.

So that's it. Season over. But fear not, Insider loyalists, your favorite blog rolls on. We've got the rest of the playoffs to monitor, MLS Cup at RFK, inevitable United signings/ trades/releases/contract negotiations all winter, the MLS draft in Baltimore in January, expansion, college soccer (Terps-Cavs Saturday night), national teams, Poplar Point negotiations, the World Cup qualifying draw (oooohhhhh) in a few weeks and the Euro seasons. The sun never sets on Planet Futbol.

Your final thoughts on United's season -- and what you feel the club needs to address in order to avoid another postseason meltdown -- are welcome here.

By Steve Goff  |  November 2, 2007; 12:57 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Playoff Matchday 2: DCU vs. Chicago
Next: Friday Gallery

Comments

I vote for the post-season meltdown.

Posted by: Mastodon Juan | November 2, 2007 1:31 AM | Report abuse

i hope some positive stadium news will make this offseason go by faster. if not, it's going to be a long, dark winter.

Posted by: hogmesh | November 2, 2007 1:39 AM | Report abuse

The awful thing is that Chicago has our number and only our number--I predict that they will not win the Conference. I would at least be happy(er) if we got beat by a good team that would go on and win the thing.

But Chicago will bite it, as usual, for the Conference final, a game we likely would win.

Posted by: Viv | November 2, 2007 1:43 AM | Report abuse

I feel sick.

Posted by: Paul | November 2, 2007 1:44 AM | Report abuse

all I can say is I turned the game on after my happy hour at the bar and players were stunned... playing like they had fate as a wall against them. Still working I neglected many of my bar clients to witness a good bit of why the MLS playoff system is good for American television but not true to who should win the season. Whether this will change Garber's perspective is doubtful, however vamos United, you have the Sheild

Posted by: Lemoyne | November 2, 2007 1:51 AM | Report abuse

Now that I've had a chance to relax, the first thing that comes to mind is that we're still playing in February.

I hope Gros is healthy and ready to play again by then. I hope we keep Dyachenko in the expansion draft, and not just because we wasted a 1st round pick on him last year. I hope we get faster in defense. I hope Gomez and Moreno stay one more year, but without crippling us in the cap market. I hope we find another attacking player. I hope we learn how to play without resorting to the long ball. I hope Arguez develops this offseason. I hope we find a #2 GK this offseason. I hope Boswell resigns and readjusts. I hope nobody panics.

I hope I'll get to see the Inner Harbor filled with Black and Red this January. I hope we're ready and prepared for the CCC this February. I hope we win in Mexico and/or Costa Rica.

Because I know I'll be there in RFK next year, chanting and cheering.

Ohh, and I almost forgot:

Zzzzzz. I want DC United in DC!

Posted by: B.A. | November 2, 2007 1:54 AM | Report abuse

Lots to look forward to next year. Simms is a nat team quality player now. Burch and mctavish are coming of age. Look for caroll n boswell to have bounce back seasons. The two brasilians will be even better. Perkins a year wiser. Namoff, benny and vanny will be sollid vets. Hopefully we keep moreno n gomez plus add veron. ok. Ill cut the crap. Devastating loss. I'm destroyed, pissed that we choked and angry that coach playd moreno and emilio in the final game still won supporters shield and will be in superliga next year. Not a bad year even if this loss hurts. P.s. Real glad the guys made a game of it instead of going out like putos (see 2005 exit)

Posted by: matt y | November 2, 2007 1:55 AM | Report abuse

Good game, great blog. I read this blog pretty much every day, several times a day. I'm glad the sun never sets on planet futbol.

Cheers to Chicago, hope they win the Cup.

Posted by: M.G. | November 2, 2007 1:58 AM | Report abuse

Just to get a pulse, how many United Fans think they'll keep their MLS Cup tickets now and show up in force?

I had the weekend all planned out, but now i'm just bummin'

Posted by: Harkes '96 | November 2, 2007 2:03 AM | Report abuse

First of all, it's obvious that we have five defenders for four positions. I'm sick and tired of hearing on this blog, "I can't believe Soehn played ____ while ____ was on the bench!" Looks like there's a lot of flip-flopping going on. Last week everyone was astounded that Boswell wasn't in to head the ball away; Vanney's too short to win headers. This week it's "Boswell's too slow. McTavish should be playing." I, personally, think Boswell should have come off the bench for the final 2/3 of the season--including last week.

This may seem a little harsh for a team that just won the Supporter's Shield, but I wouldn't be disappointed to see anyone leave with the exceptions of Simms, McTavish, Burch, and Olsen (UVA bias). The others are either aging or I don't see much potential in them.

Please, please, please pick up someone who can put a header into the back of the net. One goal from a corner kick all season is pitiful. In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing Addlery suit up for a couple games next season for no other reason than that he scored off a corner kick.

Rolff's a pretty darn good finisher. He scored two goals that most mls strikers would have blown. Call-up?

With another expansion team next year, will the playoff seeding not be so screwy?

Great job by the supporter's groups tonight. Unfortunately, tv viewers didn't get a good look at the confetti at the start of the match. Also, I thought the Barra had some secret, awesome banners. Were they for if we won?

Deja vu from U.S. - Italy

Okay, I'll shut up now.

Posted by: UVA to RFK | November 2, 2007 2:08 AM | Report abuse

Odd that the video highlights don't show the disputed goal. MLS afraid that Jair got it wrong? Just odd.

Posted by: Sean | November 2, 2007 2:38 AM | Report abuse

The disappointment, for me, is that United won't be playing in the MLS Cup. There may be other MLS Cup finals for the club, but there will likely never be another played in RFK. Even if United is able to someday play a final at home, it will be in a much smaller facility. This was an irreplaceable moment in time, and it ends up being wasted.

What's in store for this club? What goodies should we ask Santa to bring for D.C. United's fans? Goff -- you've teased us with talk of significant rumors, which may impact the club. I would guess that one of those rumors is that Juan Sebastian Veron will finally sign with United, after ditching them at the altar last Spring. Given his credentials, I imagine that would be a nice addition. I think Veron and Gomez would make a nice center midfield.

I assume Gomez will want to stay. If there is aloosening up of the roster rules -- either raising the cap, or allowing for two Designated Players -- United will be able to give Gomez the money he wants. Gomez isn't the player he was last year. He hit a couple of nice free kicks, but over the last month his frees and corners weren't so compelling -- either low, or long, wide or weak. I have criticized Gomez all season, for his effort -- and his condition. I do not think he was in shape this year. Ran out of gas almost every game. Not tonight, though. Gomez put his heart and soul in that last flurry of action. He won me back over. I hope they keep him.

It is obvious that United needs to get someone up top to pair with Emilio. I would like to see Jaime Moreno stay on as a sub, if he is willing to take that role. Jaime can't be one of the main guys up top, since he's not scoring, but he could be effective as a late-game extra attacker.

Having won the Supporters Shield two straight years, it seems fair to say United does have one of the best teams in the league, if not the very best. Their play over the last month has exposed weaknesses, though. We need to see some upgrades in the defense -- especially centrally. I see Rozental didn't make much impact with Puerto Rico, so I'd say we need to look outside the club for new names. We also need another capable striker -- there happens to be a young Brazilian Mauricio Salles, who scored 14 goals for Puerto Rico. Perhaps he's worth a look? Or, maybe a veteran DP. I'd love to see United find a way to bring Chris Seitz back to the area. And, of course, Juan Sebastian Veron.

Posted by: FischFry | November 2, 2007 3:51 AM | Report abuse

Dear Santa,
I'll I want is a single table!
... and one of those sweet United scarves.
United are champions in book.

Posted by: andrew | November 2, 2007 4:12 AM | Report abuse

About the handball -- I could not tell looking at the Jumbotron, but I thought it might have been a good call. It's late at night, and I have played and replayed the one look at it on the ESPN soccernet page. I am now convinced that it was the wrong call, regardless of what Goff and Wynalda have said. Gomez' arm was up on the defender's back and the ball hit his arm. I do not think he played the ball with his arm. The ref was probably screened by the defender, and Pickens, who was flying past the play. We can't change the call and get that overtime, but I think that history should reflect that Gomez deserved the goal. This is the Mike Renfro play for MLS. Too bad that this won't lead to replays.

Posted by: FischFry | November 2, 2007 4:16 AM | Report abuse

Is it February yet? When is the next match? How much longer until they finish cleaning Poplar Point so they can build?

Posted by: sitruc | November 2, 2007 4:26 AM | Report abuse

will history also reflect that Perkins contacted Carr inside the box?

If a players arm is away from his body and it redirects a ball into an advantageous position, it's going to be called a hand ball. Especially a slow moving pass from a teammate. It doesn't matter how unintentional it might look.

Such scenarios may or may not be described in the rulebook, but I'd think most all refs would agree that was a handball.

Posted by: undrafted | November 2, 2007 4:56 AM | Report abuse

Well, that kind of sucked.

:(

Posted by: Mike | November 2, 2007 5:17 AM | Report abuse

I'm ready for some serious single table talk. Make the US Open Cup the Playoffs and the Single Table what it is. If we keep seeing crap like this from the Supporter's Shield winners or more teams like the Galaxy winning because they get hot - we threaten to make our regular season as irrelevant as every other sport in the country outside of the NFL and College Football.

I'm really nervous about the off-season. I don't want Veron - I want Riquelme. I want a playmaker if we spend some serious money.

Posted by: UVA-United | November 2, 2007 6:26 AM | Report abuse

Please buy me a center back for Christmas and leave Boswell exposed in the expansion draft.

The thing I am proud of is that they did not check out at half time.

Posted by: Kevin | November 2, 2007 6:53 AM | Report abuse

Soccer is such a cruel, cruel, cruel, cruel, cruel game.

So when does training start for the CONCACAF Champions' Cup?

Posted by: Thumb | November 2, 2007 7:05 AM | Report abuse

A player rating of 6 for Fred? Seriously? Fred was horrendous: demure, static, unconnected passes, slow. A 2 for the first half alone. He was the worst of the bunch in an unbelievable dysfunctional first half. DC United responded to Chicago's quick high-pressure, swarming, chippy defense, with slow, overly-complicated, weak individual efforts. There was known of what Benny said DC United would do to beat Chicago, which was possessions of 7 or 8 passes. There was known of the DC United I know in the first half.

Posted by: Brendan | November 2, 2007 7:18 AM | Report abuse

I agree. Fred was awful. He seemed to be tip-toeing out there. Bad passes and just out of it.

And the defenders (Burch aside) all deserved a 3 or less

Posted by: bristol | November 2, 2007 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Simms was DCU's best player, followed by Addlery and Dyachenko. Emilio was still seriously dinged (thanks Tommy Boy for risking him in that meaningless Columbus game) and Moreno was Moreno with no target forward to work off of. (Remember the left footed shot Emilio shanked in the opening minute? That was his "bad" ankle, clearly he wasn't anywhere near 100 per cent.) Notice the change when Addlery came on, much more energy, a big body that mixed it up in the box and caused Chicago trouble. Dyachenko got assists on both goals. Interesting that Tommy Boy didn't use either one of them last week in Chicago when it mattered. I'm pissed off, primarily because Soehn betrayed either an inexperience (hopefully) or incompetence in his coaching in "big" knock out games.

Posted by: griffin1108 | November 2, 2007 7:35 AM | Report abuse

I hope that Moreno will stay, even in a limited role, but we definitely need some help in the midfield (Veron will not be a bad addition).I think Gomez is a goner though.
A couple of quick flank players are also needed. This team has no speed upfront and that was painfully in display last night.
Finally, a decision has to be taken in the back......Is Bobby B. staying or leaving? If he can regain his last year's form, I definitely believe he is better than Vanney!

Posted by: Charles | November 2, 2007 7:39 AM | Report abuse

24 posts before someone complains about Blanco?? Is it even worth mentioning that he brings nothing positive to the match? He is bad for the league, other than maybe playing the role as a villain. I don't want to watch an MLS Cup with him playing.

Posted by: TheNoid | November 2, 2007 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Our center backs are putrid. Boswell has regressed, and Greg Vanney is certainly not the answer. We must upgrade that area in the offseason. Of course, easier said than done.

And once again, the regular season is proven to be meaningless. Perhaps they need to have a Spring, then a Fall schedule, because MLS' regular season is the biggest sham in American sports. Our regular season is longer than baseball's, but for what? Yes, yes, yes, we won the Shield (thankfully), but it does seem a bit hollow now, doesn't it?

Posted by: Hoost | November 2, 2007 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Personally, I think the problem wasn't in last night's match. The problem was in our approach to the away game in Chicago. When a team departs from what it does best into something it doesn't do very well, the results can't be great. DC went to Chicago to play a defensive match. Why? I think the coaches should have just played honestly and played DC-style soccer. Instead of trying to defend, getting down by 1 goal and having to win by 2 at home. Yeah DC has been dominant at home but who needs the additional stress of having to score 2 just to win? Especially when your lone striker is nursing an injury.

Also, DC needs to get better and more consistent scorers. Emilio was great but none of the younger players have panned out so far. Addlery is gone, Kpene can't score and Dyachenko rarely plays. Another scorer to pair with Emilio and a better central defender are the 2 things DC needs for next season. And also, avoid Chicago like the plague.

Posted by: Bart | November 2, 2007 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Both Fire goals come off in the vicinity of Boswell, coincidence? The first goal was quality attacking, but the second was defensive breakdown.

The ESPN soccernet video recap shows Gomez was clearly onside for his goal, the replay of the handball is far from conclusive. Gomez's arm is wedged against the defender's back, Pickens and another defender are collapsing on him. Is there a clearer video clip out there?

The shot by Clyde Simms was fantastic. It gets better in replay. More of that, please.

Posted by: Gib | November 2, 2007 7:58 AM | Report abuse

What I saw last night was a rudderless ship. Soehn cannot be the captain of it, because he is not on the field. What we need is a leader in the back, a la Beckenbauer, John Terry, Bobby Moore. Someone who will push you up against a locker at halftime and light you up.

We all know we can score when we need to. But it's been defense, defense, defense all year that's decided our fate. It's been way too unsettled. We need to clarify that backline worse than anything.

I agree with those who support the single table structure, and, quite honestly, find the playoffs a bit boring and superfluous. I'd much rather have the MLS Cup replaced in stature by the US Open Cup, with the Supporter's Shield the true Championship. Just like England, Spain, etc. But it'll never happen.

Posted by: Grotus | November 2, 2007 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Regarding Burch, he was really really good when opponents didn't know about him. But after a few good games, they figured out he ONLY plays with his left foot. That's such a handicap. All soccer players should at least be able to use both feet. He simply can't do anything with his right foot. So Burch's assignment for next season: work on the right foot buddy. That way opponents can't just keep turning you inwards and towards your right foot.

Posted by: Bart | November 2, 2007 8:01 AM | Report abuse

@ Grotus: You think they can bring Ryan Nelsen back? Or Dema Kovalenko?

Boswell is a chump.

Posted by: Bart | November 2, 2007 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Defense wins championships.

Posted by: WNT fan | November 2, 2007 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Gutted...
I think we need some time apart.

Posted by: jgildea | November 2, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

What a freaking joke. What is the point of the regular season. Just like benny said, its a complete crapshoot.

Posted by: MLS Playoffs | November 2, 2007 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Amazing how Boswell goes from Defender of the Year to a chump. I agree though, last year he probably benefited from the system, this year he was exposed.

I'm not so sure it's time to blow-up the team though. There were cries from this blog to do just that early in the season when we were in a funk. Moreno has clearly lost a step or two, now is the time to replace him. I'd use our DP to get a world class (we can dream) target striker. Without one, Emilio and Gomez are less effective.

Posted by: London Dan | November 2, 2007 8:24 AM | Report abuse

The tears have ceased to flow, but I am (and will continue to be) simply gutted.
I am predicting Great things for United (including the Poplar Point debacle) next season.
The only good news is only 2 more months until the Africa Nations Cup (ALLEZ Drogba; Allez les Elephants; ALLEZ Cote d'Ivoire). It stinks for Chelsea though.

Posted by: DQ | November 2, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

And once again, the regular season is proven to be meaningless. Perhaps they need to have a Spring, then a Fall schedule, because MLS' regular season is the biggest sham in American sports. Our regular season is longer than baseball's, but for what? Yes, yes, yes, we won the Shield (thankfully), but it does seem a bit hollow now, doesn't it?"

Well, not entirely. By winning the Supporters Shield we get to play in the CONCACAF Champions Cup and the SuperLiga next year and that's a big deal. At least, it's a big deal for me. If you don't care about international club tournaments, well then do you really have a feel for the world's game?

The real sham is MLS' playoff system. Using a "home and away" aggregate series for the first round unfairly penalizes conference champions by making upsets more likely. I suppose expanded playoffs are how we do big time sports in the U.S.A., but it bites. I am aware of no other pro sport in America that gives the weaker regular season finisher such an advantage.

On the other hand, how many supporters realize that we finished 3rd in the Eastern Conference in 2004. Did our winning the MLS Cup that year make that championship any less worthy?

Having said all that, I am devastated this morning. It's a cruel end to the season. But, not inconsistent with our results in all the other club tournaments that we played in this year. It bites.

Posted by: tallguy | November 2, 2007 8:32 AM | Report abuse

They play anti-soccer. They're everything this country hates about the sport, and their advancing hurts the game. They're like the Knicks back in the day...they're allowed to play by a different set of rules. Awful. If Chicago's in the final, I'm selling my ticket.

Posted by: How can anyone root for Chicago? | November 2, 2007 8:34 AM | Report abuse

I don't like the silly playoff system that MLS seems to think it needs to be "American", but it doesn't matter. It's the system we have, and it is NOT a crapshoot. It's a series of matches, just like the regular season. There is no reason why United could not have won these games.

Posted by: Eric | November 2, 2007 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Gutted. Great year. Terrible series. Lots of heart in the end. And damn I wish that had been a Gomito golazo.

The reason I think DCU needs a Dema back is that they need a second enforcer (Olsen does it well but he's only one guy) to protect the skill players. Know this isn't hockey but Chicago's only "tactics" [if I heard Wynalda go on one more time about the genius of Osario's tactics I was going to deposit my dinner all over the TV screen] were to dive and hack, dive and hack. Having a sizable enforcer, particularly one who isn't quite as well known to the refs as Olsen would make thug-life teams think twice before hacking away.

Posted by: -K | November 2, 2007 8:36 AM | Report abuse

A disappointing way for the season to end to say the least. It was a helluva season though. One thing's for sure, me and the wife are joing Barra Brava next year. Those crazies made our gameday experience worth the price of admission. Last nights flag and confetti show was awesome. Hope we didn't see the last of Jaime Moreno. He looked so sad as he walked off the field. I'd like one more chance to let him know what he's meant to us and the organization.

Posted by: QuietSider | November 2, 2007 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Holy crap our defense is sooo bad! Cut Vanney & Boz, send Burch to Eurotech soccer camp to learn how to tackle & read the game. MacTav needs a mentor in the middle. Good bye Gomez, it's been a pleasure but I think your mind has been more on your next contract that lifting any silverware. Jamie, beloved Jamie...player/coach job, please stay. Emilio stop scoring against suck ass teams and step up next season. I hope that Golden Boot wasn't a joke. And Fred start watching El Diablo highlight films so you can see what it really takes to create in this league...it may be a cold day in hell before you get 6 assists in any match much less the Finals. I'm sure I speak for the Black & Red nation when I say this meltdown will sting for quite some time!!! Thanks guys.

Posted by: moupper90 | November 2, 2007 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Regarding the handball, you'll notice that I didn't flip out and spit in someone's face which should tell you that I knew I was guilty. And we really can't complain because Perkins brought Carr down in the box and the Fire didn't get a penalty. Everything evens out.

Posted by: Christian Gomez | November 2, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

simms did play well at times. but missed an open net in the first half. boswell must go. he was awful. moreno did nothing he must go. olsen is the most overated person on the team. he got dispossed so many times and worked himself into a corner. sure he works hard but thats it. perkins bad night. fred horrible passing.
it comes down to poor defending in the first half that sunk us. i would love to see the replays of the last hand ball call. it looked pretty bogus on jumbotron.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

perkins may have brought down carr in the box. but u still have to make that penalty kick.

Posted by: castroviejo | November 2, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

If Riquelme comes, then we can have Ray Hudson as a coach, for sure!

Posted by: BI | November 2, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

I'm a diving whiny hacking clown. Get used to it, it's what I do.

Posted by: CuatehmocBlanco | November 2, 2007 9:04 AM | Report abuse

"Poplar Point negotiations"

do go on.

"Interest in Gomez and/or Moreno from a club in Qatar?"

do go on.

Posted by: more from Goff, please | November 2, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Goff do not be fooled. Carr dove.

Posted by: Kevin | November 2, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I will say this about our club despite all the terrible feelings we have and the second guessing we are doing.

What a season. There were real lows and real highs. There was intense passion. Passion from the supporters and passion from the players to perform - no other MLS club has that.

Our new owners have proven to be top notch and then some. Best of luck to those guys as they look to secure our future even more.

Our team fought. Sure they had moments where they failed and let themselves and us down. But they fought nonetheless and left it on the field more often than not. Shortcomings aside, how many other clubs no what it's like to see their players care from February to November?

Now, before we all jump out the windows, I think we should all offer our thanks for the last few months. I'm sure (even me) we'll all be figuring out the tough issues as they arise between now and our first CCC game next spring, but those players know what an honor it is to wear the crest of the red and black.

Vamos United. Siempre.

Posted by: UVA-United | November 2, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

A lot of whining about the playoff system. Call me crazy, but I'd rather see the best teams in the league settle it on the field. DC had a great season and they've been rewarded with the Shield & a CONCACAF berth, but they aren't the best team in the league right now. Champions step up when it matters.

Posted by: go United | November 2, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I think this team needs some European influence. We have some great Latin flair but lack structure and sophistication of the game. I'm not looking for a 40+ washed up FA reject, maybe a relative unknown from Italy, Spain, or even France. The scouts seem to spend a lot of time South of the equator lets mix in some from east of the big pond.

Posted by: Keith | November 2, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

If only that SOB linesman didn't have 20/20 vision and call the handball on Gomez for that third goal. It was a good call BUT wouldn't it have been magical?

Posted by: Felix | November 2, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

The best teams in the league DID settle it on the field - from April to early October. Short series knockouts are always a less reliable crapshoot than the record over a long season. This is as true in other sports and yes, the World Cup. But Americans are accustomed to the idea of playoffs so MLS is stuck with them.

Posted by: just sayin | November 2, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Can we consider it to be proven now that resting/protecting the regulars in meaningless final game trumps playing them in order to "keep the mojo going into the playoffs"? Especially someone like Moreno who isn't getting any younger and had been on national team duty?

Posted by: gringo | November 2, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Some DCU wins the shield by playing some overall good to great soccer through the regular MLS season....but in EVERY non-regular season "special event" they don't do so hot.

Is there a mental shift that causes a team to perform well under "normal" circumstances yet freeze or fold in special competitions?

Superliga, MLS playoffs, CONCACAF Cup....eerily similar?

Does the coaching staff need to alter their approaches to such events? This consistent inability to play up for special situations is worrisome.

Posted by: special situations needs special focus | November 2, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Am I the only person who thinks that this playoff series was lost in the last regular season game?

I understand not wanting to 'let up' in the last game of the season. But if I was coaching the team, there is no way I play anyone remotely important against Columbus.

A healthy Moreno and Emilio and I have no doubt we pull the series out.

Posted by: isaac101 | November 2, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Really lousy defending in the first half; not sure what they were thinking. I also just don't understand why Perkins feels the need to venture out to the edge of the box so often. It just seems like he's trying to be too agressive, or he's just panicking.

Anyway, it was a good comeback, but there's just no reason why they didn't play good soccer for the whole game. Really, really poor showing. Time for some new players with leadership skills and bite to their game, because these guys just can't get it done.

Posted by: Hacksaw | November 2, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

"Champions step up when it matters."

Right, every game, every day, every night. Thats what United did all season.

Posted by: the cheat | November 2, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Postseason play and not even 20K fans went? Weak...

Posted by: DC | November 2, 2007 9:40 AM | Report abuse

This is why we don't need so called play offs. Team listed 8th would be able to play into play off is all wrong. If you are going to let number one team in the league to drop like this because of the mess up system, MLS big guns need to open up their eyes and think and make sensible system. If the single table system works in the rest of the world WHY WOULDN'T IN AMERICA? MLS doesn't have to fit into the rest of the american game system, it needs to fit into the football/soccer system. Mr. Garber and the team, please think over if this is how you are going to mess up. I admire develping the game nicely but you really to fix this.

Posted by: td | November 2, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I know your hearts are broken but to say Chicago plays anti-soccer is just nuts. I would have to agree with you in Game 1 that both teams went to ground way too easy and the ref bought it all. Maybe the Fire bunkered down in the second half but they had a 1 goal lead and it seems that Osorio is happy to defend with a lead.

This match was one of the most exciting matches I've ever seen. I mean RFK went from dead calm to crazy loud after Simms goal. I had friends over who were shouting and screaming as the game progressed. These are guys that do not watch or follow soccer and they were into it. DC showed a ton of heart coming back and making it a match. I just wonder why they waited so long to put that kind of pressure on Chicago. Where was that in the first half?

Anyway I do hope the Fire move on to the MLS Cup Final because NE has had plenty of chances to win and have proved that they cannot get it done.

PS - I would love to buy Cup tickets if anyone is selling them. GO FIRE!

Posted by: Gilly73 | November 2, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

My guess:

Major offseason overhaul. Kevin Payne will have had enough of this playoff pain and will want to clean house. I don't necessarily agree, but my gut tells me:
- both Carrolls, gone
- Boswell, gone
- Dyachenko, gone
- Gomez, overseas
- Deroux, gone
- Namoff, gone
- Vanney stays because he will be called on to help the younger guys
- Fred? Not sure. The club will want to keep him but he may not want to stay
- McTavish and Burch: the club has made an investment and will keep them.
- New center back? Look for a veteran, perhaps Petke or someone like that, to pair up with Vanney, plus an attack minded right back

Despite the loss, an enjoyable season. But I need a break.

Posted by: Joe Doc | November 2, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I like the playoffs. The atmosphere at the game last night was better than anything you'd see in the regular season--the entire quiet side was standing for most of the second half. I just wish DC could beat Chicago.

Posted by: philofutbol | November 2, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Go United, you said, "Champions step up when it matters." Perfectly illustrates the point that people are trying to make about the playoff structure. Your inference is that the rest of the season DOESN'T matter.

I'd like to see a system in place to more appropriately reward and recognize performance during the regular season. For 30 games United was the best team in the league. That's an amazing accomplishment.

So we didn't win the double. Or the treble. Or the quadruple (?). (I guess that's what you'd call winning the Supporters Shield, MLS Cup, US Open Cup, and CONCACAF Champions Cup.) Anyway, I'm proud of the guys and their terrific work rate over a memorable season. At the same time I'm crushed that we gave up two soft goals in a game that was eminently winnable.

Quadruple for '08!!!!

Posted by: Matte | November 2, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

"I think this team needs some European influence. We have some great Latin flair but lack structure and sophistication of the game."
_________________________________
??????????

Posted by: apqjr | November 2, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

The number was up when you played us, but not because you played your best players. We had nothing to gain except our self respect by winning that match, and your team apparently had no heart to win it. You have a group of players, but you have no TEAM. It showed when we beat you, and it showed when you lost in Chicago and couldn't win in a playoff game at home.

Posted by: the ghosts of the Columbus Crew | November 2, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a huge Fred fan but I agree that he was good. He made fools of 3 Chicago players last night dribbling around them and sprinting down the flank to send crosses in. He's the ONLY guy on the team who is fast enough to beat players in that manner.

From section 139 I had a pretty good view of the handball. IMO it was the right call. The ball took a VERY unatural turn to his foot. I was just pissed they were able to see it.

Posted by: CB | November 2, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Here's an idea for you ... Soehn for Mexican national team coach.

Soehn said, "That's soccer. Not always the best team comes out on top." Where have we heard such babbling before? Oh yes, after each US-Mexico game ends with a US victory!

Umm, the team that scores more goals always comes out on top, Tommy. It is what it is. Is there any other objective barometer of who is "best" that we should use to determine who advances? I didn't think so.

We tell this to the Mexicans after we beat them each time, and let's be consistent and tell it to DC United and its fans now.

Posted by: furia yanqui | November 2, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

This loss stings a lot. But I still think the team is in decent shape for next year. I disagree with those who say that Boswell suddenly sucks; he's not especially sharp right now, but it's way too early to give up on him. Things I'd like to see added for next year:

- Veron
- A third forward (trade Carroll for one, if you don't lose Carroll in the expansion draft)
- A healthy Josh Gros
- More depth on defense
- I wonder if we could take a flier on Cory Gibbs and nab him from Charlton; he might come in handy in the distant future (if he ever gets healthy; he's got a broken foot right now). His stock is low right now, but he'd be exactly what we need in defense: brains, size, and speed. I can't imagine that Vanney will be around for too much longer.

Posted by: Jeff M | November 2, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

It's not that Americans need the idea of playoffs - it's that the playoffs give clubs extra earnings potential. The Playoffs provide for premium priced games that are likely to draw above average crowds. Also, "being in the hunt" will help those teams that are 7-10/11 in the table keep fans interested at the "chance". Imagine if you're trying to sell tickets for the remaining two months and your team is cooked already. It's a business more than American thing.

But, now that we have some serious implications for table finishes - and given the die-hard support of the small few for US Open Cup to be more important I think that MLS should be looking for a way to keep the playoffs alive, and expand them.

1st = Supporters Shield, CCC, SuperLiga, Bye in US Open Cup
2nd, 3rd and 4th = SuperLiga, Bye
5th-8th = Open Cup to play top 4 survivors from lower levels.

Winner gets other bid to CCC.

Then - go forward. Real motivation for younger guys, shifts the burden of midweek Open Cup misery to the end of the campaign, Provides vary level of reward/opportunity for teams in 1-8 Category as well as brings some life back to Lamar Hunt's dream.

Posted by: UVA-United | November 2, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

the season ends, the blog lives on. bless you, insider.

just a thought: gomez out. adu in.

Posted by: dco | November 2, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

"Champions step up when it matters."

Right, every game, every day, every night. Thats what United did all season.

Posted by: the cheat | November 2, 2007 09:38 AM

They've had four chances in the last couple months to beat the Fire -- three draws and a loss. Of the three draws, they didn't score in one, they scored only a fluky goal in the second after being dominated all game, and they fell down by two goals at home in the third.

The only team DC beat in recent memory was Toronto FC. Now Chicago hasn't lost in more than two months.

It's not just a crapshoot.


Posted by: furia yanqui | November 2, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

saw the replay of the handball on sportsrise this morning and it looked like a good call, as much as it hurts. if it were a chicago player in the same situation i know i'd be screaming for a penalty.

simms played great except for the sitter he missed in the first half. can't blame that one on the baseball field, either, although that goalmouth looked pretty messed up from something.

i think it's time to let jaime go, if he can't accept a sub role for next season and doesn't bail to qatar. 3 goals from the run of play isn't enough for a starting foward in this league.

Posted by: pat | November 2, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

There are certain things Chicago deserves a lot of credit for:

- Finishing. Remember when people, on the basis of the Chicago-LA game, said that no one on the Fire could finish? Wrong. We gave Chicago 3 great chances last night, and they got 2 goals and should have had a penalty on the third. They don't get much, but they make it count every time.
- Tactics. As opposed to the poster who said Chicago's only tactics were to dive and hack, the truth is that Osorio made some great moves with his starting lineup. Playing Carr far up at right midfield forced Burch to stay home, which caused us problems every time teams did that. Also, when Soumare came on for Barrett, Osorio pushed Carr up front. Faced with two speedy forwards, Soehn was forced to burn a sub, bringing on Boswell for McTavish, so we had any hopes of keeping up with them on counters.
- Being good at what they do. Yes, Chicago's main object (and not just in the series, but since Osorio arrived) is to sit back, destroy, and wait for a mistake. Yes, it's ugly. Yes, several of their players are completely without class (Blanco and Brown particularly come to mind). However, they make no bones about what they are and they are, at the moment, really good at it. Teams don't just come into RFK and shut us down for an hour; it takes an inspired, focused effort.

In all honesty, I see Chicago going to the final. The Revs have also been pretty flat recently (sound familiar?), and we all know their tendency to go defensive. NY is still too weak defensively, and I feel would have absolutely no success against this Chicago team. From the West, I think the only team able to break Chicago down would be Houston. KC just isn't that good, Dallas is too inconsistent and can't defend to save their lives, and a Chivas team without Razov (and possibly Galindo) is toothless in attack.

This is getting long, so I guess my thoughts on United will have to wait.

Posted by: Chest Rockwell | November 2, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

The sun'll come out
Tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There'll be sun!
Just thinkin' about
Tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
'Til there's none!
When I'm stuck a day
That's gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,
And Say,
Oh
The sun'll come out
Tomorrow
So ya gotta hang on
'Til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow!
Tomorrow!
I love ya
Tomorrow!
You're always
A day
A way!

Posted by: Little Orphan Annie | November 2, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

We didn't bring it last night. Fred at a 6 rating is a joke. He was lousy. We needed one of our technical middies to go get the ball - Gomez, Fred, Olsen - but they didn't. Instead, we had our defenders kick the ball. Ugly. And, Boswell may be at fault for two goals. For my $$$, that deserves a 3 rating at best.

I thought that the cheesy pregame video montage captured everything - we live off our past, and we're arrogant.

Going into the season, we knew a few things:
1) We needed better defenders. Yes, we exchanged Vanney for Erpen, and got lucky that McT and Burch were serviceable. But, we didn't address the problem, and we got burned. It's too bad that Boswell imploded - I like the guy, and I think he can rebound. But, he needs to "man-up" and learn to deal with the criticism (and benching).
2) We needed better athletes. The Gros loss was tough, but look at guys like Robinson, Carr, Brown, and Conde for Chicago. Their soccer IQ is low, and they have almost zero technique, but they terrific athletes. Our guys, well...
3) We had both Simms and Carroll. Carroll had some trade value, while Simms was incredibly underrated (how Toronto passed on him in the expansion draft is beyond me). Trade Carroll.
4) We need a better #2 goalie. Although Perkins wasn't great for parts of this year, we got lucky that this didn't become a major issue.

Posted by: jj | November 2, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Hand ball: good call, unfortunately.

Perkins challenge: good call, fortunately

Dump: Fred, Moreno (sorry, dude, thanks for the memories), 2 defenders (take your pick)

Chicago: crap team. go revs.

Posted by: Terp | November 2, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Tough loss...for awhile, I thought the Black and Red were going to stage a Liverpool type comeback, but they just fell short. I believe Gomez is gone and Veron is coming in. I really hope that Jaime stays, but his "walk-off" looked as if he might not play next year. Hopefully he'll remain at DCU as a coach...goodness, our coaching staff does need some expertise on the offensive side of the ball!!! Jaime will always remain my favorite DCU player. I just wonder who we can get to pair with Emilio?? Carrolls and Boswell are surplus to requirements now. Trade them for a great central defender of some sort. Keep Vanney for experience off the bench. Time to scour the mountains of Bolivia and the plains of Argentina for the next DCU prodigy.

Posted by: BigWave | November 2, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Manyoo falls to lads from the Emirates on Saturday

Posted by: Gunners | November 2, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

The following was obtained exclusively by DCUMD following the match last night
http://dcumd.blogspot.com/2007/11/osorios-notes.html

Posted by: Shatz / DCUMD | November 2, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Shatz, that's awesome. And, the best part is that you seem to think that making up fake notes about a coach is almost the same as beating that coach. Let me know where you're golfing at this afternoon, the weather's perfect for a quick 18 or so.

Troy Perkins sucks. Sucks, sucks, sucks. Here's to the DC fans who actually thought that he was going to be better than Pickens.

Posted by: kebzach | November 2, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Get rid of the back. They lack speed and indecivisness. They are the reason for all of United's setbacks in each tournament this season. We need a better attacking midfielder, a winger who can serve the ball in the middle, a new goalie, and fast & smart defenders. I wish we get Riquelme, but that is unlikely. So we will probably end up with Veron and lose Gomez and Moreno, and replace them with younger players from Argentina. We should look to Europe fo our defenders. Disappointing end to a good season. I look forward to thye offseason all the player moves. Vamos United.

Posted by: C United FAn | November 2, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I'm still bitter that DC lost to that "soccer" team. Of course the Fire don't actually play soccer, they defend as if they're playing rugby and attack... well they don't attack, they play ugly crap and DC's defense made three horrific blunders or lapses, and credit to the Fire strikers for making DC pay. MLS Cup just went from what could've been an awesome experience and a great showcase for soccer in America with a sold-out insane crowd, to something much more pedestrian. So sad. I'm not pulling the Mexico "the better team lost" thing because even though I do think DC is the better team (it plays so much better soccer), the Fire are the only team with DC's number and it sucks and until DC wins a playoff series against them I can't argue otherwise.

As for the team, I think a huge thing people are forgetting about Burch is this was basically his first full pro season. He hadn't played regularly during a long MLS season yet and for someone who has only played a full college season there will naturally be a tail off at the end in pros. And even then he only played one year at Maryland so this was a big jump for him. He'll improve and he's a big find, so I'm looking forward to his development.

Simms really improved throughout the season and was probably the best player last night.

We need a fiery leader in the back. Olsen is the heart of the team, and Moreno makes the attack click (I thought he was awful last night), but the D needs a bonafide leader as many have noted. I don't think Boswell was ever really a great defender, he was masked by the great regular season team last year. He's young and can improve, but something's gotta change, too much drinking his own kool aid.

How shocking was it that Addlery came in and helped sparked the attack. What it shows is how important speed is, and exposes the blatant lack of it on this team. DC needs speed on the flanks considering they don't have a true winger besides Gros (well I guess Olsen's revival there this year makes him a winger again), and they need a fast striker up top to play with Emilio. Speed kills and DC just doesn't have it.

Posted by: G-Dub | November 2, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Regarding the Gomez disputed goal, it did hit is hand, it was unintentional, and I have no idea how that referee could possibly have seen that. And if he did, how could he NOT have seen the Fire defender using his right arm stretched across Christian's waist to keep him from the ball? I think THAT should have been a foul, and it occurred before the alleged handball, and was deserving of a PK at the worst.

Posted by: c-hawk | November 2, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

And by "wait", I meant like 2 minutes.

Top to bottom, here's what needs to happen, at least from where I'm sitting:

- Coaches: Soehn did well overall this season. He got outcoached last night by someone with more experience. The good news is that Soehn has shown that he learns from his mistakes, and usually pretty quickly.
- GK: Perkins is solid. His dedication to improvement and fitness in the offseason means we should see a better #1 next year. The problem is with our other keepers. With Crowe apparently unable to move past Nolly on the depth chart, he should get replaced by another college keeper. Meanwhile, Nolly inspires no confidence. There's got to be a backup around MLS that doesn't make me nervous whenever I see him. We need to get on that, in case Perkins picks up a knock.
- Defense: I'm not going to say we need to toss everyone, but it needs to be better. Boswell needs to find himself again, Burch needs to deal with the fact that people will no longer give him the freedom they did at first, and McTavish will need to keep improving. Vanney, if he's re-signed, will have to emerge as even more of a leader. Namoff gets a pass, as he was our best defender and is one of the top MLS right backs. We also need a bit more depth, since we really only have 5 starting-quality defenders.
- Midfield: Olsen had a great season, but seemed to peter out towards the end. We could probably have rested him a bit more. Simms is a keeper. Fred will need to be a bit more consistent, but should still be good for near 10 goals and 10 assists again. The Gomez situation will need to be resolved by January, so either he or Veron (I still think there's no way we have both of them) can get a full preseason with us. Gomez's effort last night was a good example of the fact that he loves it here, so I would be sad to see him go. Carroll could be used as trade bait, but I have a feeling he might be taken in the expansion draft. The return of Gros will be a help, if it in fact happens. After that, I'd hope we can add one more dangerous wide midfielder to our current group (ideally a true wide man).
- Forwards: Keep Emilio, obviously. Everyone that said Moreno needs to be replaced obviously didn't watch us play this year, since without him we were painfully mediocre and with him we were at our best. Replacing him is going to be very, very difficult. If his body holds up, he should still be a regular. I like Kpene, but his lack of goals really harms his odds of staying on. Addlery played had 2 good games and many bad ones; I don't think he's worth keeping. We need a reliable back-up for Emilio and someone creative to replace Moreno from time to time.

Last night didn't make us a bad team; it did, however, make it obvious that we are prone to choking. Back in '04, we had guys like Nelsen and Stewart to give us that confidence and urgency to perform when the spotlight was brightest. We need that again, more than anything else. The current squad, in form, will get itself into big games; the question is whether we can show up or not. More than anything else, this is what we need to fix in the offseason.

Posted by: Chest Rockwell | November 2, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

That picture on the front cover of the Post this morning is just TOO good. Now we have no argument!

I want to see a replay of the Olsen to Gomez to Addlery attempt in the second half that Addlery whiffed on. My thought is that if Emilio is at full strength, then he plays the full 90, and he's in the game instead of Addlery at that point. Emilio would have buried that pass. I agree that Addlery made a big difference for us with his speed, but that dude needs to learn to finish!

If United takes that match into overtime, it maybe goes down as the greatest game in MLS history. And I disagree with everyone who says the Fire weren't playing "soccer". Playing defensive in that match was a solid strategy, and they did manage to get two goals on us.

Perkins does not suck. He's probably the most athletic keeper in the league. Did you see how high off the ground he got trying to stop the second goal? There's not another keeper in the league that would have got a finger on that.

Posted by: Shatz / DCUMD | November 2, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

we need players who can think the game quicker. Time and again the way to beat United is to pressure us, we don't know what to do with the ball other than just pump it up field when moving at full speed. This isn't exposed in the regular season because we're usually give lots of space, but in the tournaments and playoffs when good teams put pressure on us, we collapse like folding chairs.

we need to think faster, play smarter, and stop panicking.

honestly i could care about Superliga and Copa Sud if we can't win MLS.

Posted by: Faster minds | November 2, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I feel so bad for the fans. Looking around last night seeing nearly 20K all dressed in black on a Thursday night -- better attendance than Chicago had with both a SSS and big name DP on their roster. Would have been a hell of an MLS Cup if DC would have made it to the final.

Hard to feel too bad for the team itself. The tactics were poor -- chipping long balls up for Emilio and Moreno to run on to was moronic. Neither one is particularly fast or tall. And the handball call is irrelevant -- Chicago should have had a penalty and probably Perkins sent off a few minutes earlier. DC deserved the tie, but didn't deserve the win.

Have to see some big changes in the off season. Our lack of speed up top is killing us (I guess Kpene has it but he can't score). Would be nice to have a guy like Rolfe. Midfield seems OK but would prefer to see someone faster than Olsen on the wing with him shifting to the center. Defense needs some work...

Posted by: Colin | November 2, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Gutted...
I think we need some time apart.

Posted by: jgildea
-----------------
I am absolutely where you are. My perspective about the team and the game needs to have some time to return to what it was before last night.

I now truly understand Fever Pitch.

And whoever said this is a funny old game is a masochist.

Posted by: seahawkdad | November 2, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Was at the game and the last bit was completely on edge. Neat experience but sad to see DC lose.

I'll still be at the MLS Cup just to see some good soccer...and to meet up with the Sons of Ben. C'mon Philly!!

Posted by: P | November 2, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Can someone PLEASE post a link to the disallowed goal?

I think it's BS that the official highlights don't even show it.

I've GOT to see this with my own eyes. In my opinion, the ref decided the match. To disallow a goal in the 93rd minute. Having not seen the replay, it doesn't seem that it was an obvious handball. To disallow the tying goal in the 93rd minute on something that wasn't blatent is wrong, I think. But I'm biased.

Posted by: David | November 2, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Wishlist:

Striker with pace, playmaker to replace Gomez, someone that can actually take a corner, and a central defender that can mark and win balls in the air.

Posted by: trip | November 2, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

"Football is not just a matter of life and death: it's much more important than that."

Too true after last night.

One thing to say and note, as strong as all the Supporters Groups were and the way that they came alive in that second half: we need to show more class. The throwing beers at the Fire and the refs, the "F U ref" chants; we're better than that. Congrats to the Brava's cheer leaders for trying to stop that, but especially after the game when the Fire came over to thank Section 8 and were still getting beer thrown at them. We love it when United thanks us after the game, we should love it when the other team does it to their fans too.

And that was classy by the guys for throwing their shirts in and taking Brava shirts. Very classy. Now if anyone wants to send one my way ...

And yes, I need time away too because Shankly's quote (which might be the best sports quote of all time) is ringing way too true right now.

Posted by: Bill Shankly | November 2, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Chest Rockwell: excellent post, although I would argue a fairly significant infusion of new blood is needed, particularly in the defense. I have completely lost faith in Boswell, for example and would be more than happy to see him discarded. But your final paragraph says it all for me. The team put together a nice body of work over the long haul of a season but in the matches that meant the most, they came up small.

Posted by: CMJ | November 2, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

as I had to say last week about the VT-BC game, sometimes a good team just finds ways and gets breaks to win.

I know Chicago is the "#8" team, but it's the playoffs and that really means nothing. Based on their form the past two months, they are a good team. They showed it last night. They finished their chances, they got the breaks, they won the series.

I don't like Brown, or Blanco, or Rolfe when they go against DC, but as another poster put it, that team does what it does well.

I also don't think it's really "anti-soccer." To see anti-soccer, wait until the semifinal when Chicago has to play the prince of anti-soccer, Steve Nicol, and the Revs.

Ugh - the feeling last night watching the "third" goal and then seeing it waived off was the worst. But that's sports as a fan.

Go DC United.

So when is the Champions Cup!?

Posted by: Rob | November 2, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Everyone's made good comments already, but here's my take.

We need speed, speed up top and speed out wide. A true wide player would do wonders for DC. Olsen can't really do it anymore, he got too tired by the end of the season. Fred is not a wide player.

The defense has never instilled confidence and you saw why last night. I'm fine with keeping everyone as long as Boswell gets it together (Namoff and Burch in particular are set in stone), but I would like a strong, leading presence that can inspire us. Great teams have them (Chelsea - Terry, Barca - Puyol, Italy circa World Cup 06 - Cannavaro), and DC's defense hasn't been the same since Nelsen left.

I'm hamstrung by the Moreno conundrum, if you will. Clearly DC's attack is great with him, much more dangerous. He probably has another good year left if he's used and rested properly. However, playing him up top takes away a spot that could be used by a new, fast striker partner for Emilio. DC would be deadly with someone with pace and athleticism (can DC ever get someone who will be dangerous on corners, please). The lack of depth in attacking options hurts.

Addlery showed how important an athletic striker can be, but also showed his glaring shortcomings. Same applies to "I can't score if my life depended on it" Kpene.

I would love to see Veron in a United shirt, he's simply world class, but it would be extremely hard to see Gomez leave. He has such a passion and when he's on it's a thing of beauty. From banging on the drums in NY to the fire he should after his goal last night, it'd be sad to see him go.

Oh yeah, Blanco disgusts me and it'd be a shame to see his team rewarded with a championship. However I can't root for NY ever (aside from wanting to see Altidore develop), so I guess it's go Revolution! Or maybe hope Houston wins.

Posted by: Luis | November 2, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I just hope they sign a decent defender and an actual 3rd forward to come in occasionally/play up front in some games. Throw in some more speed (which this team lacks on the flanks for the most part) and there you go.

Oh, and maybe not play Starters in worthless games?

Posted by: Chimaera | November 2, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Yes the Fire have good, talented players (Blanco, Rolfe, Conde). Yes they play ugly, anti-soccer, you can't call it anything else, they don't attack. They defend (quite well) and hack (quite often). Then they play the ball to Blanco and then go direct up top while everyone sits back to prevent any counters. It's an anti-soccer tactic but they're good at it and it beats DC.

Blanco is classless. Brown is dirty. I really hope they get their comeuppance in the conference finals.

DC needs to shake things up. Not a major overhaul, but maybe two or three big changes. It's hard to say because they do well, play attractively, and have back-to-back Supporters Shields, but before you know it they will fall into a New England-type spiral of "almosts" and this team will get sucked into the desire to finally break through so much that it will ultimately hurt them in the end.

Posted by: Gutted in NoVA | November 2, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Lets give a little credit to our boys. There were some bright spots.

First, Clyde Simms. Heck of a goal. Absolutely gorgeous. Patrolled the back of the midfield pretty well. He's got some star potential if (and thats a big IF) he decides to get a little more 'rugged' and to play with more urgency.

Second, Addlery. Provided a needed spark when he came on. He got his head on a couple of balls and brought the crowd back into the game.

Third, Fred. Now I know some people were upset with his play. I agree that he did nothing in the first half, but he returned to form in the second half and had some nice runs down the right side of the field.

Posted by: C | November 2, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

DCU's defense is AWFUL. Nice choke job guys!!!

Posted by: Ryan | November 2, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Disappointed, but proud of the guys for fighting back last night. We got 90 mins of exciting soccer on national TV - isn't that the point? In a single table we would have won the trophy on a Sunday night at midnight when no one was watching and most fans were asleep. Were we the best team? I'm not that sure. To be fair, I'd say we were 1 of 4 elite teams: NE, Houston, and Chivas were right there with us the whole season and had more players miss games w/ national team duty. Not saying you single table fans aren't correct, but that I like the playoffs. 4-6 teams would be better though. Enjoyed the season and see you at RFK in 2 weeks.

Posted by: go United | November 2, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Nice to see some sanity here, still. It isn't as if DC was last this year and missed the playoffs. Major changes aren't needed -- this is the Supporter's Shield, after all.

Let's get some depth up front, do something with the D, and get a big guy or someone that can actually put a corner in. Don't forget, this was the highest-scoring team - by FIVE goals, and third-best in defense (34 goals against -- Houston with an unbelievable 23).

Posted by: RK | November 2, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

BTW, loved when Wynalda called Blanco a big baby for his temper-tantrum on the sidelines late in the game...

Posted by: RK | November 2, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

2) We needed better athletes. The Gros loss was tough, but look at guys like Robinson, Carr, Brown, and Conde for Chicago. Their soccer IQ is low, and they have almost zero technique, but they terrific athletes. Our guys, well...

Posted by: jj | November 2, 2007 10:17 AM

No offense, but this is a joke. Honestly, were you guys impressed by the way Vanney failed to clear the ball, leading to Rolfe's goal in Toyota Park? Or how about Boswell's and Burch's great way of tracking Rolfe on that same play?

How about DCU's method of tracking Rolfe and Barrett on their goals @ the armpit known as RFK? Did Segares fail to read the game the same way?


You might have an argument that Burch [the former forwrd] and possibly Vanney [the former international] have better technique on the ball than Robinson, Brown, Conde, and Segares. But in terms of reading the game? You're kidding yourself. Blown marking assignments by DCU defenders [which means a POOR read on the game, BTW] led to all three Chicago goals.

Did you see Robinson fail to track a forward IN THE BOX, as Burch and Boswell did? Did you see Brown fail to do the same? Conde's only lost header in last night's match was the one that led to the disallowed goal.

I agree that the FIRE have a more athletic back line than DCU's. But to suggest that they "have a low soccer IQ" is silly. The FIRE's defenders didn't make the amateurish mistakes that DCU's did. Period. And that's [one of] the reasons why Chicago will be playing next week.

The other reason [IMO] is the Arena-ish 4-5-1 that Soehn trotted out in Bridgeview. Arsenal previously could play this formation to good effect, but that's because they had Thierry Freakin' Henry! This formation virtually guarantees a loss, unless a team has an otherworldly forward to make it all work.

DCU has a fine team. Tommy Soehn is a good coach, one that I wish had stayed in his hometown team, instead of Sir Dave the Short. IMO, with a better approach to the 1st match [2 forwards, Tommy], and more composed defending [This means MARK YOUR MAN], and it could have been DCU advancing.

Posted by: khan | November 2, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Definitely Shoen's decisions to play all the starters on that final game cost him but you have to figure we are in this for a the long run. We still by far have the best team in MLS and we haven't even used our DP slot yet. Next year I see further dominance in MLS but along with them success in our other tournaments i.e. CCC, superliga etc....

Posted by: OutofTwnFan | November 2, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

goff, thanks for the insights this DCU season. i'm looking forward to checking the blog just as often during the DCU off season. thanks again.

Posted by: hokie soccer fan | November 2, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

They're keeping the playoffs. Can you imagine if only 2 or 3 teams were in contention for something meaningful in the last two or three months of the season? Remember this is a relatively new league and the league still concentrates on attendance numbers.

Posted by: Mike | November 2, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I forgot about the legendary Brian Namoff when discussing DCU's backline. Sorry.

[sarcasm] Yep, his ballwatching technique and soccer IQ were on full display in this series. Certainly better than Robinson, Brown, Conde, and Segares.[/sarcasm]

Posted by: khan | November 2, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

now lets concentrate all our efforts into getting our stadium

lets fill up rfk for mls cup, i got my tickets, i hope we all go, no dc united, doesn't matter, this is our domestic national championship, show our mayor we need a new stadium, that ward 8 needs us

now is our time, lets get this damn stadium

Posted by: hokiepride | November 2, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

For those who haven't seen it - here's a link to the photo gallery from last night

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2007/11/02/GA2007110201130.html

Posted by: emanon | November 2, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

How does Boswell find himself 35 yards from goal before Barret makes his run?

Barret is horrible and going to do nothing with the ball if he gets it out there. However, if he gets in a footrace, he's got a chance. Terrible.

On the second goal, Boswell knew where is man was but had no sense of Rolfe bearing down on the ball. Probably a case of rust from not playing the last month. A good player touches that ball away.

I agree with the previous poster. Sure Chicago has a bunch of hacks in the back, but they know their jobs and they win balls they should win.

Adderley looked good when he came on, got in good spots in the box, but whiffed terribly on a couple of chances.

Soehn: I guess you can dispute starting Boswell, but for the most part the onus is on the players to get the job done. He only started 1 forward in Chicago, because he felt like thats the formation that got his best players on the field. Probably the right move.

Playoffs: Before we start knocking the playoffs, think about how crazy RFK would have been if DC had made it. Insane.

For pure excitement, they cant be beat. Yes, it doesnt seem right to declare the champ based on 6 matches out 36, but how anticlimactic is it to win the championship based on a draw between two teams playing 3000 miles away.

Posted by: srfinger | November 2, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Fred needs to be anywhere but the left wing. He's needed to be anywhere but the left wing all season. If Boswell was to start in a crucial match like this there had to be a damn good reason PLUS he needed to be brought into the mix more prior to this. The game 1 lineup was absurd, necessitated in part by playing the front line (which was getting gassed/run down due to long season & tourneys) in the Columbus match when it was clear that the first round playoffs were Thursday with no earthly reason not to rest up the strikers and give the bench strikers some serious minutes to be in tune.

These are not personnel issues, they're coaching issues. A coach is not to be measured on a sunny day when there is no pressure, but when the heat is on and results must be earned to live on. At that level, what you don't need is klutzy management, and that's what Soehn brings. Maybe he'll learn, but we don't need OJT any more -- get somebody in here who's an assistant in the Premiere League and has credible experience at the level that we want to get to. Let Soehn go coach college ball.

Finally, what do you really expect when defenders on the average make less than waiters? The one guy who's getting paid on the back line is Vanney, and he's definitely not worth it. We need some Africans to shore up the D, IMO. Good in the air, physical, and fast. Let Gomez/Moreno go, take their salary, and get some Nigerians who will bring it. Then put Fred on the right wing, decide how to use Burch (maybe get him up on the left), and take Vanney's money and spend it on two worthwhile up and comers who will play more aggressively beside the Nigerians. Then we'll have some football.

Posted by: spike_2.0 | November 2, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I think the hatred of the playoffs is coming from DC United's failure over the last few years in them. If DCU was finishing 6th or 7th in the regular season and winning conference and MLS championships, I don't think people would be so upset with the playoffs.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

(opps - helps to refresh before posting)

Posted by: emanon | November 2, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Ben Olsen -- where were you?

Posted by: Atlanta | November 2, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Marseille is awful this year, so maybe they could use Boswell...

Posted by: RK | November 2, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

no, no, no....Marseille is winning group play in champions...see, they could suck and win the whole thing....our playoff system is no different, stop complaining

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Another season-ending fade. Let's step back and look at the schedule. I see DCU playing 40 competitive matches in a six-month period with a roster that has about 20 players that can be fielded.

Compare this to a mid-table or below club in the Premiership. The season is 38 games -- and whatever cup matches come along -- over about eight months. Check their rosters. Far larger than what MLS permits.

Fatigue is definitely a factor for DCU. The Fire played about 25 percent fewer competitive matches. They simply had more energy left than DCU at the end of the season.

After giving up four goals to the Fire in two playoff matches, it's easy to jump all over the defense. Step back. In 10 regular-season matches in September/October, DCU conceded 10 goals (while scoring 20). A GA average of 1.0 ain't bad. This said, DCU needs another defender or two to allow the resting of the first choices. And, yes, Boswell was an enigma this season.

Gomez and Moreno? They are not getting any quicker or more durable. It may be time for them to have more-limited roles. How about Fred in the central midfield? He was Aussie League MVP in this role. Veron? DCU doesn't need an aging head case.

People who say DCU (and MLS) should be looking to Europe for players should understand the economics. Salaries in Europe are the world's highest. Even donkeys get what are big bucks by MLS standards. Dollar for dollar, Latin America provides MLS with better talent.

Let's hope that DCU doesn't let Dyachenko go in the expansion draft.

Posted by: Running Cloud | November 2, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I'll just say this: It's a good thing I didn't make the trek up to DC for the match. Otherwise I'd be hungover in a jail-cell, and Jair Maruffo would be laid up in a hospital bed with a broken nose, jaw, left orbital, and missing several teeth.

You simply don't call that goal back in stoppage time. It was a great match, but the pure mayhem that would have transpired had the goal been allowed, the match concluded 3-2, leading to the 30 minute "mini-game" and then PK's (as both teams would likely have played ping-pong in an effort to keep the ball centered at mid-field) would have been unsurpassed. (dear god that's an ugly sentence)

Hopefully Reis will drop Blanco with both knees to the head, forcing him to roll around on the ground in actual pain for once, while the ref allows play to continue.

Time to catch up on some reading, bulk up a bit for my Spring Rugby Matrix, and continue in my efforts to pickle my liver.

No EPL, Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, etc... If it's not DC United, I just don't care.

Posted by: AlecW81 | November 2, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

So much to say -- First though to David: head to the espn.go.com site. Click on Soccer, then to MLS. If you look at the right side of the page, they have video. At the top of the list is the post-game wrap-up from the game, and has a replay of the disallowed goal.

Chest--I respect your comments, but your logic is flawed. Yes, Moreno helps make the offense go, but you dismiss Kpene becaue he can't score. Moreno did not score much either, besides the penalty kicks. I would keep him as a third attacker, not No. 2. United needs someone younger up top, particularly someone who has a good game in the air. We also need speed. Oh, man, do we need speed! We had it for a weeks with Gros, but he never really found his position, and who knows if he can play again? Of course, we need at least a better back-up keeper. Personally, I would like to talk with RSL again -- about Seitz...to start.

I thought Fred looked pretty good out there in the second half. Created some real ole moments with his dribbling. Maybe he needs to be on the right side? It will be interesting to see what team takes the field next year.

Playoffs? Did anyone see Arena's idea? Make a bigger deal about the regular-season champ. Have a second season -- the playoffs. League-wide elimination tournament. First plays last, etc. through the table. Gives the first place team some further reward. I like this for when the league moves to 16 teams.

Or, go with the Americanized system we have. Americans understand a champion coming from the playoffs, though it was not so long ago that winning a pennant was a really big deal in baseball. I do not think it is really about revenue, though. Not yet, for MLS. The crowds aren't that good, especially the first round. Historically, they are often smaller than regular-season crowds. Maybe that will change as fans start to care about the competition, not just coming out for a game.

Posted by: FischFry | November 2, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I really like that all teams/knockout tourney format for some reason.

Posted by: Mike | November 2, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Can someone PLEASE post a link to the disallowed goal?

I think it's BS that the official highlights don't even show it.

I've GOT to see this with my own eyes. In my opinion, the ref decided the match. To disallow a goal in the 93rd minute. Having not seen the replay, it doesn't seem that it was an obvious handball. To disallow the tying goal in the 93rd minute on something that wasn't blatent is wrong, I think. But I'm biased.

Posted by: David | November 2, 2007 11:10 AM
-----------------------------------------
I think the fact that the ball was played back right in front of him is what made it obvious (unintentional or not). It gave him an advantage and that's why it was called. If you watched the replay last night from behind the goal you could see the ball was going across the goal, but hit something to stop it. the second re-play shows it hitting Gomez's hand, which gave him the advantage. I was as upset as everyone else when it happened, but the fact is it did hit his hand and he knocked it back in front of himself? Bottom line is it shouldn't have come down to that!!!

Posted by: donkey king | November 2, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Good season. Crushing loss. Chicago played well and they deserve to go to the final if they keep playing this kind of soccer. Why can't we get up for the big games? Lose to Chivas when it counts. Lose to LA when it counts. Lose to Chivas when it counts. Lose to Chicago when it counts. I don't have any answers. I thought Soehn did a good job for most of the season. He rotated players to keep them fresh and adjusted his formations and tactics when things were ebbing early on and in mid-season. We didn't play a beautiful brand of soccer as in years past, but we were integrating new players who were learning to play with each other. If Fred, Emilio, Gomez and Moreno could have clicked at the same time on the same field, that would have been nice, but it never seemed to happen though things got better as the season went along. Maybe it will happen next year, but maybe it is also too late for Moreno (age)and perhaps Gomez (contract).

Like most, I also wonder about our speed and positioning in the middle of the defense? Boswell was a riddle, Vanney is too slow and McTavish was just too inexperienced. We might want to start thinking about getting someone really solid with some recovery speed (Erpen without the weekly "oops" moment). Burch and Boswell will be fine on the outside and Simms is pretty good at defensive mid.

Like everyone, I also think we need another forward off the bench. Maybe its Moreno and we get someone new to pair with Emilio or maybe we move Gomez up and have either Moreno and someone new off the bench, but Kpene and Addlery have not shown an ability to score and are not the short-term solution (although I would want to keep Kpene around to see if he can grow into the role).

Still, it was a good season with rewarding games and plenty to look forward to every week. Now there is nothing to look forward to for a few months.

Posted by: noname | November 2, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

We need a new playmaker who can pass the ball on a dime. Jaime can pass, but can't run too well anymore. Fred can beat people, but most of his passes are lacking. We need that Schelotto in the middle.

Posted by: Dave | November 2, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Agree on the need for an additional productive striker/aerial threat. Drafting either Findley or Christman sure would have been nice, right? Here's hoping United adds a key player or two in the upcoming draft.

Posted by: go United | November 2, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

So exactly how ugly might it get if Chicago makes it through to the final in two weeks? Particularly those putzes who mocked the supporters after the first goal.

Posted by: stuck in 200 | November 2, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Although I believe the ball did touch Gomez's arm, he did not handle it "deliberately." Here is the rule as it is written in the Laws of the Game:

"A direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following four offences:

- tackles an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before touching the ball

- holds an opponent

- spits at an opponent

- handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area)..."

Here is a link to Laws of the Game:

http://www.fifa.com/mm/document/affederation/federation/laws%5fof%5fthe%5fgame%5f0708%5f10565.pdf

Gomez did not try to tough the ball. He didn't move his arm in the direction of the ball to gain an advantage. So, I disagree with the ref's call.

One caveat: Refs seem to generally be making a distinction today. If the ball touches a players' arm or hand outside the box, the refs will generally call a handball even if the players clearly did not intend to handle the ball. But if the ball touches a players hand or arm in the box, the refs generally don't call a hand-ball unless there is evidence that they players deliberately handled it. However, the usually applies to defenders and not attacking players. In other words, I often see refs not call a handball on a defender if it touches his hand in the box as long as there is not evidence that it was not deliberate. But I haven't see any instance in the past when a ref has had to make a decision as to whether to call hands on the attacking player if the ball hits his arm or hand in the box unintentionally. So, the ref's pattern for calling hands in the box only if it is deliberate doesn't apply as much here since there isn't a pattern that I'm aware of, since I don't think I've ever seen a ref be face to make a decision as to whether to call a non-deliberate hand-ball on the offensive player.

It is important to take the law as it is written seriously. Because everyone has an opportunity to read the laws. Also, if there is a pattern here, it is that the refs don't call hand balls in the box if it is not deliberate. So, that supports the idea that the ref should not have called Gomez for a handball.

However, FIFA should address this rule. It's affecting too many games. They should say that hand-balls outside the box will be called for fouls, even if they are not deliberate. And hand-balls in the box will be called for fouls if and only if they are deliberate. This would end the confusion. And it would be a just rule. Games wouldn't be decided by the referee. Penalty-kicks are too easy.

One final point: The ball might have also touched Dasan Robinson's arm, namely his forearm. Look at the picture and the replay of the play.

Posted by: Ed | November 2, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

This whole celebrating by mocking the opposing team's fans trend has got to stop before someone gets injured. How does Marrufo not give a yellow card to Barrett for his celebration? You do that anywhere else in the world and you are not leaving the stadium alive, same goes for Marrufo's handball call on Gomez (as correct as it may have been).

Posted by: uniter | November 2, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Don't know if anyone will read this far down on a Friday afternoon. I hate those all day meetings.

Season post-mortem

1. GK -- Perkins made most of the saves he should have, a lot of saves he shouldn't have, and missed a few simple ones. Overall good play. The drop to second-string is like falling off a cliff. I expect new blood next year.

2. Defense -- McTavish and Burch proved to be better than anyone would have expected for so little experience, and make up for our bad luck with the developmental players up front. We all expected much worse from our defense when the season started. The Vanney-Erpen trade was definitely positive. Next year, we need a central defender that's at least 6' tall and fast for corners and counters.

3. Midfield -- Big questions for the offseason here. Gomez didn't earn a fat new contract this year, so I expect he's gone. Carroll and Simms could both be trade bait this year, especially if Veron is signed. Is Gros coming back next year? This is the part of the team that could be decimated in the offseason and where I worry about most.

4. Forwards -- Kpene and Addlery are both gone. Emilio needs another serious scoring threat, and we won't be looking to developmental players to do that. I expect Gomez's SI spot to go to a new forward. Moreno may not be back, but if he is, he becomes a super-sub to help replace Gomez in midfield if we get a new forward. I would expect an American forward for second string to be replaced by a trade for Carroll or Simms.

Posted by: LeesburgSoccerFan | November 2, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Ed, you're right in pointing out that refs generally make a distinction on calling handballs in and outside the box. However, it's not as simple as whether it was deliberate or not. Part of the question in terms of how refs look at it is whether the hand ball clearly negated or affected a scoring opportunity, be it a shot or cross regardless of the chances of it going on goal. It might not be deliberate, it can be purely unintentional and accidental, but if it alters the ball's path clearly then most refs are going to call it.

Posted by: G-Dub | November 2, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

GDub wrote:

"Part of the question in terms of how refs look at it is whether the hand ball clearly negated or affected a scoring opportunity, be it a shot or cross regardless of the chances of it going on goal."

If it hits a defender's hand in the box non-deliberately, refs usually don't call it. If the player moves his hand in the direction of the ball, they usually call it. If the ball just hits his hand without his moving it toward the ball, they usually don't. Especially important is how far the handler is from the player who touched the ball before he did. And in Gomez's case, it seemed like he really didn't have time to react. The ball seemed to me just to hit him. So, the precedent is at least not in favor of calling a handball on Gomez and it may be in favor of NOT calling a handball on Gomez.


"It might not be deliberate, it can be purely unintentional and accidental, but if it alters the ball's path clearly then most refs are going to call it."

In Gomez's case, the ball did touch Gomez's arm, and, in touching his arm, the ball's path might have been affected. However, when the ball's path is affected by coming in contact with an arm or hand, the referee often does not call a handball [b]in the box[/b] unless the touching of the ball is deliberate -- unless it is "hand to ball" rather than "ball to hand." In the box, deliberation seems to be the key to how refs call the play.

Moreover, the way refs tend to call a particular kind of play should not be the only factor that refs X considers when deciding how to rule on play Y. For example, refs should also look at the way the rule is written. And in the case of handballs, the word "deliberate" is used and is very important. And from what I saw, Gomez's handling of the ball was not deliberate.

Posted by: Ed | November 2, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse

In Gomez's case, the ball did touch Gomez's arm, and, in touching his arm, the ball's path might have been affected. However, when the ball's path is affected by coming in contact with an arm or hand, the referee often does not call a handball [b]in the box[/b] unless the touching of the ball is deliberate -- unless it is "hand to ball" rather than "ball to hand." In the box, deliberation seems to be the key to how refs call the play.

Moreover, the way refs tend to call a particular kind of play should not be the only factor that refs X considers when deciding how to rule on play Y. For example, refs should also look at the way the rule is written. And in the case of handballs, the word "deliberate" is used and is very important. And from what I saw, Gomez's handling of the ball was not deliberate.


Posted by: Ed | November 2, 2007 05:14 PM

If that handball would have happened in the middle of the field, i don't think it would have been called. but, since it lead directly to a scoring oppurtunity, i think most refs would call it? right or wrong?

Posted by: donkey king | November 2, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Donkey King wrote: "If that handball would have happened in the middle of the field, i don't think it would have been called."

It is tough to say. But most times the ball touches a player's arm OUTSIDE the box the ref calls a handball EVEN IF the player did not deliberately touch. So, if the ref saw the ball touch Gomez's arm in the middle of the field, I think it is very likely he WOULD have called it.


"but, since it lead directly to a scoring oppurtunity, i think most refs would call it? right or wrong?"

Given what I've seen of the play, I don't agree. I don't think MOST refs would call a handball in that situation. Obviously some would. In fact, one did! I've been a ref, and I wouldn't have a called a handball on that play. But I don't have a particularly good idea on the percentage of refs who would not have called a handball. But given what I've seen of the play -- and I'd like to see it more closely in slow-motion -- I suspect that fewer than 50% of refs would have called a handball on that play.

Also, it is important to note. The way refs refs have tended to rule on particular kind of play should not be the only consideration that ref X weighs when deciding how to rule on play Y. For example, the law as it's written should also matter.

Posted by: Ed | November 2, 2007 5:40 PM | Report abuse

fear not United fans, at least you FINALLY manged to score on us, twice even, (even though Gomez was offside, I guess he was hellbent on cheating all night)
Nice debate on whether a handball should be called guys, no really, there should be times handling the ball shouldn't be called, especially when it benefits your club. /sarcasm.
All trash talking aside, congrats on the Supporters Shield. I hope we get a chance to play you all again in the CCC finals.

Posted by: papa bear | November 2, 2007 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Well let's say this about the handball, I think it was a very close call either way and rightly or wrongly I think it took some massive cojones for the ref to call it back in that atmosphere.

"even though Gomez was offside, I guess he was hellbent on cheating all night" - papa bear (are you Bill O'Reilly? Might explain a lot) umm I don't know what you're talking about but offsides is based on where the player is when the ball is played, not when he's already passed your defenders and the ball is in the air. Perfectly legitimate goal. And by cheating do you mean like diving onto the ground every two seconds even though you were only breathed on like a certain no-necked hunchback I know?

Posted by: G-Dub | November 2, 2007 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Moreno has earned the right to decide what he wants to do, whether is to retire, leave DC or continue to play with us. May I remind everyone who wants to "replace" him that he's the only player in DC who has four rings? And he played a BIG role in getting those rings. A little gratitude and loyalty please. Besides, someone who actually knows soccer can clearly see that he's still the best player in our team, just look at how DCU plays when he's not there, the flow of the game goes missing. Jaime should stay if he wants to, however the team needs to find another younger version of Jaime to start the transition that must come sooner or later without disrespecting a player who gave us so much.

Posted by: DM | November 2, 2007 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Where to start. Business had me watching the game in a hotel in Terra Haute Indiana. Folks, now that's lonely.

I'm a bit numb myself. Where is the team that destroyed so much of the league for most of the season? Well, no Josh Gross and an attacking pair that clearly was not 100%

With a flat four and 2 D-mids, TS should have ordered an overload of the flanks from minute one. Something to shake up a 6 defender set. Even if you leave yourself exposed a bit to the counter.

Boswell should go. I'm very sorry to say that, but I think that when he turned down a renegotion of his conttract, things went south.

Gomez and Jaime might both go? Wow. That makes me a bit scared.

What will next year bring? I would like a young exciting attacking player, a fast strong center back to play with McTavish, a midfield tandum that includes a DP and oh yes... a GD F-ING Stadium in Washington F-ing DC!!!!!!! You here me Fenty!!!! Build me my F-ing Stadium for F's SAKE!!!!!

Posted by: Alexandria Dan | November 2, 2007 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Oh well, another bad "result" for your "side". And to think that your "club" was shut out 2- "nil" in the first half of the "match" with so much at stake. It was certainly not a worthy demonstration of how to play "the beautiful game". At least you arent whining anymore about having to share the "pitch" at "Estadio RFK" with the Nats. An attendance of 19K for an elimination playoff game? That's all??!! In a stadium that seats over 45K for "futbol"? I thought United ruled this town? Guess not. Pretentious clowns.

Posted by: real men dont roll around in the grass and cry over stubbed toes | November 2, 2007 9:09 PM | Report abuse

To continue the handball discussion:

When I was a rookie ref, a veteran told me that 75 percent of hand-ball contacts are not fouls because they are accidental or impossible to judge they were intentional. My experience proved him correct.

The lawbook says "deliberate." It is one of the weak points of the laws. A better approach would be look what happens to the ball after it is handled: does the advantage accrue to the handler's team or the other team? If it's the handler's team, blow the whistle. If it is one of those handlings that is hard to judge in terms of intent, the remedy is an indirect kick. If it is blatent, the full force of the law applies.

I put Gomez' handling in the tough-to-decide category. I thought he used his arm to guide the ball to his feet. Other witnesses of the replay feel otherwise. Last night's ref may have blown whistle because of the advantage Gomez gained. Even if accidental, his arm put the ball at his feet. And maybe the ref saw what I saw. Good for him. I had the luxury of slo-mo.

I wanted DCU to score, but it was a good call.

Posted by: Running Cloud | November 2, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse

To the douchebag 2 posts above: How many Post-season Baseball Games have EVER been played at RFK Stadium? ZERO.

19k is a good number for a THURSDAY NIGHT game that had less than 2 weeks of promotion.

F.O.A.D.

Posted by: AlecW81 | November 2, 2007 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and real men don't wear 30lbs of pads, play for 6 seconds, take 30+ seconds off, play for 6 seconds, 2 minute TV timeout, play for 6 seconds, take 30+ second off, play for 6 seconds, take 2 minutes off while a play is reviewed...

Posted by: AlecW81 | November 2, 2007 10:27 PM | Report abuse

"Moreno has earned the right to decide what he wants to do, whether is to retire, leave DC or continue to play with us. May I remind everyone who wants to "replace" him that he's the only player in DC who has four rings? And he played a BIG role in getting those rings. A little gratitude and loyalty please. Besides, someone who actually knows soccer can clearly see that he's still the best player in our team, just look at how DCU plays when he's not there, the flow of the game goes missing. Jaime should stay if he wants to, however the team needs to find another younger version of Jaime to start the transition that must come sooner or later without disrespecting a player who gave us so much."

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Well said. I hope Jaime will stay involved with DCU for many years - whether on the field, with the coaching staff, or in the front office. Let's not forget how this warrior fought back after surgery in 2003. Jaime is a DCU legend and a class act. It has been an honor to watch him play in DC for so many years.

Posted by: FC | November 2, 2007 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Running Cloud wrote:

"Even if accidental, his arm put the ball at his feet. And maybe the ref saw what I saw. Good for him. I had the luxury of slo-mo."

I've seen the slow-mo a few times now. I think you are right that Gomez gained an advantage from the ball touching his arm. Perhaps he would not have scored the goal had the ball not touched his arm. The ball hit his arm and then went to his foot. But that a player gets an advantage from the ball touching his arm does not, by itself, mean that the ref should call a handball. First, a lot of times a player gets an advantage because the ball hits him in the arm, and the ref doesn't call it. For example, when the balls inadvertently hits a defender's hand instead of going into the goal. Also, the way refs tend to call a particular kind of play shouldn't be the only factor as to how a given ref calls a play at a particular time. The rule does say "deliberately." Did Gomez handle the ball deliberately?


"When I was a rookie ref, a veteran told me that 75 percent of hand-ball contacts are not fouls because they are accidental or impossible to judge they were intentional. My experience proved him correct."

I agree that the majority of handball calls in the game are not instances where a player deliberately handles the ball. But I'd say that the majority of handball calls in the box are. And the Gomez played occurred in the box. So, that should be relevant in terms of how the ref should have ruled.

At any rate, after the game Olsen said that Gomez told him it was a handball. I don't know if Gomez merely meant that the ball touched his arm, which it clearly did. Or that he meant that the ref was right in calling the handball, as Gomez handled it deliberately. If the latter, that is something to consider.

I would like FIFA to clarify the rule. These controversies happen frequently, and they affect the outcome of too many games.

Posted by: Ed | November 3, 2007 1:16 AM | Report abuse

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