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DCU-Pachuca, The Aftermath

You didn't really think United, without Olsen's grit and Moreno's composure, was going to win in Mexico at 7,900 feet against a seasoned club with superior talent, did you?

United held its own for 45 minutes, but in the second half while D.C. played conservatively and tried to escape with a point, the Gophers put on a possession clinic. A few late-night thoughts:

*Zach, the near post, always protect your near post.

*The Mediate-for-McTavish move just before the second goal may have contributed to the organizational and marking problems. Gimenez drove in the free kick with power and precision, but someone (Martinez?) lost track of Montes and Wells did not react well.

*Peralta and Martinez have a strong presence in central defense and anticipate the game well.

*Niell spends an awful lot of time on the ground, doesn't he? Maybe that's because the wee man is so close to it.

*Fred's footwork was breathtaking at times, but a few passes were dreadful. Gallardo's distribution was of high quality in the first half, but he labored after the break. Emilio was all over the place, except in positions to score, and lacked the pace and decision-making to change the game.

*Does United have a chance to win by two goals at RFK? Sure. But Pachuca is deep and disciplined, and from what we've been told, will have healthy reinforcements for the second leg. United should have Moreno, but not Olsen. First things first: the MLS home opener vs. Toronto on Saturday. Given the number of early-season games and Wells's second-half issues tonight, might we see Carvallo in goal?

*As for Fox Soccer Channel, more insightful and intelligent color commentary from Christopher Sullivan, though I think he heaped a tad too much praise on Gallardo in the second half. And unlike the insufferable Christian Miles, Max Bretos clearly did his homework beforehand. Well done, FSC.

Okay, player ratings:

Wells 4; Namoff 5, Peralta 7, Martinez 6, Burch 5; McTavish 5, Simms 6, Gallardo 6, Fred 6; Niell 4, Emilio 4. Subs: Quaranta 5, Dyachenko 5, Mediate 4.

By Steve Goff  |  April 2, 2008; 1:09 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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For me, Peralta was very solid. Martinez is a good tackler and ball-winner, but must have given the ball away 50 times. Plus he was nowhere to be found while his mark was heading in the second goal from two yards out.

I also wasn't overwhelmed w/ Gallardo. He made several brilliant passes, but also gave the ball away cheaply far too frequently. Burch and McTavish both looked winded to me fairly early in the first half---I'd have liked to have seen both of them substituted at halftime.

Simms was weirdly influential tonight. Niell of extraordinarily marginal utility and Quaranta really not up to competition at this level.

Overall, I was happy with the result--it could have been so much worse.


Posted by: Dave Nelson | April 2, 2008 1:57 AM | Report abuse

I'm seeing double and I'm not sure where to post. post. Still, I think I saw fine during the game. Perhaps better than some DCU players.

I don't totally concur with the love for Peralta. He was strong defensively, for sure. He was our best defender. Still, he looked slow and terribly tentative whenever the ball came his way. He crumbled badly under pressure, taking too long to pass and giving away possession. The other defenders all made mistakes with their passes as well. That just can't happen.

Personally, I thought Simms was United's best player on the pitch. Fred had a few moments on offense, but without anything to show for it.

As I noted in an earlier post, I can't say that I'm surprised by Gallardo's ineffectiveness, but I'm a little stupified by commentators' praise. He certainly hasn't found his rhythm yet. It may be the fault of the dearth of talent around him, but the result is the same. Moreno and Gomito made it work. Somehow, Gallardo is going to have find a way, as well, but I wonder if he has the size and toughness for MLS and CONCACAF. He seems better suited to a faster, more open. more rhythmic game. That goes tenfold for Niell. Quaranta really did seem out his depth.

Wells scares me. He has good hands, but I'm not impressed with much else about his game. Sure, he's bigger than Carvallo, but Nicky was even tinier. Wells seems slow to react on most balls, and he doesn't seem super-athletic, either. OK, he made a huge mistake -- one we hope he learns from. The real question is does he have "game"?

It will get better, right?

Posted by: Fisch Fry | April 2, 2008 2:31 AM | Report abuse

That was actually more or less what I expected from United.
I know hindsight is 20/20, but Fred was our most energetic player... maybe we should have rested a few more?
I don't agree with the "5" for Burch either. I thought he had the same game as Peralta.

And another thing...
I have to say the refs were the best I've seen in awhile! Spot on with every decision, and not quick to his pocket which shows he keeps a cool head. I'd like to see more of him. Anyone know his name or know if he's reffing in MLS?

Posted by: andrew | April 2, 2008 4:21 AM | Report abuse

After some sleep I can now remember the good things. Fred has been terrific all year. The Gonzalo brothers are studs. Burch has been great when he's not overly trigger-happy on those long balls.

And indeed, the FSC guys were really good last night. They brought a ton of knowledge and context. Nice for a change, from any US network.

Posted by: Joe S. | April 2, 2008 6:15 AM | Report abuse

DCU-Pachuca, The Aftermath?

nah, it's just half-time.

United will turn this semi-final series around on 4/9.

Posted by: 4-1, 4-3 aggregate | April 2, 2008 6:59 AM | Report abuse

It's hard to imagine scoring 3 goals, when I don't think we even managed 3 shots last night. Maybe they'll have it figured out by Superliga. I wouldn't mind seeing Carvallo get a chance, though Wells did have a couple of good saves to balance out the near post blunder.

Posted by: ff | April 2, 2008 7:07 AM | Report abuse

WP-SI sets new record for posts.


Posted by: JSF | April 2, 2008 7:08 AM | Report abuse

RE: I have to say the refs were the best I've seen in awhile! Anyone know his name or know if he's reffing in MLS?
The FSC announcers said the refs were from Panama if I remember right. Regardless, they wouldn't have MLS or Mexican refs doing these games. I agree they did a good job.

I would have been ok with a 1-0 loss coming home for the 2nd leg. But the second goal gave me the same feeling as Chicago's second goal in the final playoff game - probably too much for us to come back from. I understand we were playing a counter attacking game and not wanting to commit too much to the attack. But seems to me we relied too much on long balls that were at best 50/50 chances to generate the counter attack. At altitude that's just going to wear out our players more than anything else. For the most part, just like the international competitions last year, the few decent chances we created we never really did anything with to even make their keeper work.

Hopefully they'll use the Toronto game to get things moving in the right direction and get some confidence and better rhythm going into the return leg.

Posted by: TH | April 2, 2008 7:14 AM | Report abuse

Passes from defenders to midfielders were dreadfully non-existant. I don't think they completed 2 such passes in the second half. The number of unnecessary give aways just multiplied Pachuca's pressure on goal. You're never going to win if your defenders just kick it. Bush league.

Posted by: Brendan | April 2, 2008 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Hey Goff, want to tell your buddy Mike Wise that DC HAS had athletes win League MVP's since Joe Theisman? I believe their names are Etcheverry, Moreno, and Gomez...

Posted by: Mark | April 2, 2008 7:47 AM | Report abuse

From the game grade's Goff is saying we played well (5-6-7) and if that's the case he just saying we aren't very good since we played near our potential in this one. Two games and 0-2 each time so it certainly isn't working so far. Tommy must be really worried about his club.

Posted by: tex | April 2, 2008 7:59 AM | Report abuse

I'm with Brendan that the passing out of the back was often poor, especially at some crucial times when DCU needed the possession so bad and it got launched downfield.

That said, there were some good stretches in the first half and United probably could have snuck a goal back at some point.

Fred? Neill? Those two need to start shooting when the opportunity comes I think.

Also thought Quaranta did a decent job for the time he was on.

Posted by: TheCoreSpeaks | April 2, 2008 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Olsen's grit and intensity is sorely missing in this squad right now. You never realize how important a player Olsen is until you don't have him on the field. Moreno's possession game is sorely missed as well.

Posted by: toddinho | April 2, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Yes, DC will get substantially better. After seeing Pachuca with their speed, intensity, and technicality, Toronto is going to look like they're in slow-mo. I'm predicting DC 4 - Toronto 0.

Posted by: Dan in FL | April 2, 2008 8:18 AM | Report abuse

It's time to take a look at Carvallo in goal. Perkins and Rimando produced a lot of "Thank God he's there" moments; haven't seen many of those from Wells in the first four matches.

Posted by: Luis Granados | April 2, 2008 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Fisch Fry had some decent analysis. But I'm not sure it was worth 9 posts.

I don't fully agree with all the praise that's being heaped on the referee. Many times the Pachuca players were content to hit the dirt anytime they got bumped in DC's half and the referee awarded them a free kick every time. Same wasn't true when we were on the attack. Also, was I the only one who thought the left back deserved a red card when taking down Emilio around the 85th minute when he was on his way to a clear 2 on 1 with Quaranta? That would have been our best chance of the match. Ugh, I guess I'm just bitter.

Posted by: DCUMD | April 2, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

We just aren't at that level yet.

Last night I did not see two teams who belonged on the field together. Pachuca looked solid on defense (didn't allow a single shot), had good control in the midfield and incredible shots from their forwards.

DC looked unorganized, tired, had some great possessions in the midfield but could never convert them into a shot.

I can't put any blame on Martinez, Peralta or Wells. They all played great games. Wells may have let one bad goal in but he also made some very incredible saves and kept us from being blown out 5-0. Martinez and Peralta were essentially playing a 3 or 4 vs. 2 as they had zero help from their outside defenders. They can't cover every single Pachuca player they do need some help from their teammates. They can't make great passes to our midfield when nobody in our midfield is moving!

Soehn didn't sub. Yeah blame the altitude or all the matches we have to play but at least Pachuca (who also has a very busy schedule) was smart enough to start subbing in the beginning of the second half. It took us until the last 10 minutes to really put fresh legs on the field. When you see your players walking take them out. If we still had him, I would have loved to see Kpene out there last night, we needed speed up front.

Posted by: Southeasterner | April 2, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Pachuca looked scary fast in the second half. 2-0 was a good scoreline considering the second half barrage. DC had no shots on goal and that is a little frightening. DC's bad play looked directly related to fatigue in my opinion. They tripped over the ball often and their passes were headed in the right direction but they didn't have enough pace. I was very impressed with Gallardo. He held possession against multiple defenders on many occasions and he was able to flick the ball into space for other players to run on to and keep possession. It would have been nice to see a few shots on goal. Niell is a very odd player to me. I can't tell what exactly is going on there.

Posted by: CD | April 2, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Man - do we need the confidence boost of pounding Toronto more than ever this weekend.

I'll give DC credit. It's easy for us as fans to just turn the emotion of a painful loss into pounding on our guys and pounding on executions we thought were missing. But Pachuca played GREAT football last night. Their ball movement, touch, communication were excellent. DC were also unlucky that some of those first half breaks didn't come our way. I'll give them credit for dealing with all this roster overhaul and the increased expectations early in the campaign.

That said, it will take more creativity and flow forward to get things clicking offensively. Our defense is good - but they got pounded excessively last night because our offensive possession came in fits and starts last night and was not effective enough to make Pachuca honest in the guys they threw forward after that initial 15-20 minutes.

And lastly - is Emilio depressed or unhappy here? He was never a speedster - but he doesn't look happy in the squad.

Guys on our bench that I would like to see get some time soon - Stratford, Kirk, and Cordeiro. Young and hopefully they have some fast legs.

Posted by: Virginia Blue Blood | April 2, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I must admit that I did not see every play (70 of the 90 minutes), but what I did see of the game I think you guys are a bit rough on Wells.I have to stick up for Wells a little bit. The near-post goal was a laser. There are much better goalkeepers who would have been caught off-guard by that play. Credit goes to the shooter in my opinion.

Don't forget his point-blank save late in the first half or his well-held save off a deflection earlier in the first half. I thought he played quite well, pulled in some quality crosses, and did a fairly good job of slowing the pace of the game when he could.

I definitely don't think he should be demoted due to his performance.

Posted by: Jeremy | April 2, 2008 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I am just praying that Gallardo is just out of shape at the moment because he looks crazy slow and his passing is 50/50. He has the head for a quick game but is just out of sync I pray...

Posted by: Felix | April 2, 2008 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Steve - Spot on summary of last night's game. It will be very difficult to overcome the two goal lead at RFK, particularly since DCU has shown little offensive initiative other than against a weak Harbor View side. Fans should be careful about a keeper change just to make a change. Lets see a Carvallo start against an offensively challenged Toranto team on Saturday, before we pass judgement on Wells.

I can't believe the criticism of Gallardo by a few posters. He and Emilio are trying, but are out of sync so far. Jaime's absence hasn't helped. But just as some fans make absolute decisions about keepers without seeing the alternative, they often forget history as well. DCU was woeful in its first three MLS games last year without having to make anywhere near the adjustments they're making this year. Give it time.

On the positive side, the Gonzalos are a massive upgrade from Boswell and Vanney. It's obvious that Gallardo has the creativity, though he plays a very different style from Gomez which is resulting in adjustments. The return of Moreno and Olson will inject much needed energy into the team. True, we're a bit challeged in depth. Niell is eating dirt at a Charlie Davies rate, and other than McTavish (upon Olson's return) we may be hard-pressed for subs to provide a spark off the bench. But a win Saturday night and a competitive showing at home next Wednesday will hoepfully get things moving in the right direction.

Posted by: BillyBob | April 2, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Goff's comment about Fred, who works hard to win the ball and then maneuver it away from opponents, and then far too frequently delivers a poor pass.

I expect Neill to be more effective coming off the bench for Moreno than he has been as a starter. His speed and drive will kill tired defenders in the final 20-30 minutes of games.

Posted by: ho | April 2, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Fred is a budding superstar. Man, he's got talent. I was really disappointed with Emilio and his awful touches. He had several opportunities, but his touch was lacking last night. Clearly, Pachuca was much more organized and composed, and it showed throughout the game. For the next leg, we have to do to Pachuca what they did to us. Press them, control possession, and do not let a mistake burn you. If we can do that at home in front of the Barra Brava and the Screaming Eagles we have a good chance of advancing. We have to bring our A game. We can do it, just believe that it can happen and it will happen.

Posted by: DC United Fan | April 2, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

I have to agree with the poor estimation of Emilio's play put forward by some of the above posters. It was exquisitely frustrating to watch his play in the second half as he got numerous balls played into space near him and simply couldn't get a touch on them that was under control.

The problems seem to have switched from last year, now of defense seems able to hold the ball and to hold it's own but our attack seems to falter almost immediately due to lack of speed and precision. This seemed particularly true in the second half.

Probably just frustration talking there. and at home and at a reasonable altitude I hope to see the DC of the first half come back 3-0.

Posted by: Wilhelm | April 2, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

i agree with ho on the neill thing we should be subbing him in late to use his speed against the tired defenders. also i feel emilio is slow and doesnt care he he wants a contract worth anything from any club he needs to start producing.

Posted by: chris | April 2, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

any word on talks with cesar

Posted by: chris | April 2, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry,but Niel was horrible...I was waiting for Quaranta or Moreno to get in there after 15 minutes. Also, it should be brought up, should or can we look at a higher profile coach? I don't think Soehn is really good at tournament pressure games (MLS cup, superliga, champions cup last year). They always seem to play scared and defensive in these types of games...

Posted by: Burke | April 2, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Agree that Peralta and Martinez are solid rocks in central defense. Gotta say, though, that Quaranta rated a "2" last night - looked lost and slow and winded. Too much altitude, not enough adjustment?

FSC coverage was good overall, but I was having vertigo issues all night with any activity along the near-side touch line.

As always, appreciate the objective, insightful perspective of our S.I. overlord, Senor Goff.

Posted by: BaltoFan | April 2, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

" i feel emilio is slow and doesnt care he he wants a contract worth anything from any club he needs to start producing."

um, he scored twice against harbour view at rfk. he hasn't scored against kc and last night. yeah, let's just get rid of him.

Posted by: Sweetboy | April 2, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

"Niell spends an awful lot of time on the ground, doesn't he? Maybe that's because the wee man is so close to it."

*Ouch* - as a wee man myself, that hits close to home. Except I try to stay upright... most of the time ;)

I also thought Fred had potential, but the DC's overall movement in the attacking third was ineffective. You've got to hope that Gallardo will pick it up, too...

That said, if I were a DC fan I'd be on the "wait-and-see" bandwagon. Chicago had very similar problems on Saturday (against, uh, RSL): poor development of the attack, very few chances on goal. But they were also solid in the back for the most part.

Posted by: Modibo | April 2, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Emilio and Gallardo are not going to work; at least the way we are using Emilio as a target player. The reason you use a target player is to bypass your midfield. With Gallardo in place, they need someone like Maykel Galindo to break the trap or run into open spaces as that's how the majority of Gallardo's passes are. We need an out-and-out striker. Emilio is a target or pure center forward that receives the ball in the box, turns, and shoots; he's not going to run and stretch the defense for you. We should have left Quaranta in Mexico because I didn't see anything new other what he showed last time around.

Posted by: la_chingada | April 2, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

"Mr. Grant and Mr. Kenyon - there's Msrs. Payne and Kasper on the white courtesy phone. They would like to talk about Schevchenko."

Posted by: Virginia Blue Blood | April 2, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

kpene doesn t score, but he should of play last nite,at least he brings something. quaranta?, mediate???, niell????????

Posted by: eva | April 2, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I expected more vitriol for Niell -- SHOOT IT!!!

Despite the altitude, I saw an extremely high work-rate out of the defense and midfield. The midfield either needed to go full-out on a counter, or hold the ball for a build up and to let us rest. Too many times Fred or Gallardo or whoever who give the ball away, and we'd be on our heels again.

I know a keeper isn't supposed to get caught near-post, and that Wells got caught cheating, but that was a lucky cross that went in the goal. Overall, his game wasn't bad, but it only takes that one play to make us all think he's horrible. Reminds me of another Champions Cup game in Mexico last year...

Posted by: RK | April 2, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Yea. We need a fast forward that would not fall in the ground so easily. Cesar should replace Niel ASAP!!!!!

Go Cesar!!!
Go Cesar!!!
Go Cesar!!!

Uh!! Uh!!

Posted by: Where is Cesar????? | April 2, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

A few games in a row now watching Niell and I still can not figure this move out! What does he do? What does he contribute? He just seems too small to do anything effective and is on the ground every time he touches the ball.

Posted by: meh | April 2, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Goff, I agree with you completely except ratings. I would give them lower other than Peralta, Martinez, Burch and Wells. Although, Wells did pretty good given amount of pressure he got. He couldn't much for the second goal because the defendars were stoned but first goal he should have stayed on the goal line close.
I don't have much faith DC would overcome two goals deficit and the winning goal. Too much passes when DC reach near the post. Start shooing never know what's going to happened. It could clearly deflect and goes in. Just keep it low and on target but keep shooting. Comeon!

Posted by: td | April 2, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

On mark, as usual, SG. The result is not the end of the world (could be the end of the tournament, though).

What's killing the mind out of me is this slow monster that exists on this team. It used to live in defense, but now it seems to have changed address and found it's way up top. It's earlt days, yes, but I am not too impressed with Emilio so far. There were two golden chances that a faster, sharper forward would have put away easy. The Callero gaff in the first half, and that sweet goal mouth cross that Gallardo placed on a platter in the second half.

I am not cutting on Emilio (as he is proven quality) but he's playing like he's out of shape or something. We need some speed up top. I mean Galindo like speed. We have one slot open and we need to fill that now. Is this Cesar kid capable of what we need? Anyone know, or seen him yet?

Rumor has it Volkswagon may be our sponsor. Not a bad idea as they might be able to give us our FAST back.

Posted by: Kosh | April 2, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Just make sure you don't have the referee from last nights game is nowhere near a meaningful game. He was just terrible and missed several calls.

Posted by: Ben Canada | April 2, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

The first goal against Wells reminded me of Moreno's goal against NE in the 2004 Conference final when Reis was also caught cheating off his near post expecting a cross. He also should not be rooted to his goal line on that 2nd goal as the header was just a few yards away. I still would not give Wells the hook yet and shake his confidence so early in the season - the whole team looked fairly weak last night. For all of the newcomers who were brought here for DCU to progress further in these sorts of competitions, it is interesting that SG notes the abscence of two MLS vets (Olsen, Moreno) as reasons for the poor performance by the team.

Niell is a waste as a starter - glad he is here just on loan. Gallardo turns the ball over a lot but hopefully it will be remedied with more playing time with his teammates. The Gonzalos are good in the back.

Posted by: Oliver | April 2, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Soehn - 4

Sub players before they are "gassed". Good coaches anticipate.

Posted by: ruthie | April 2, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Christopher Sullivan: is it just me or did he find a "j" in Gallardo's name that I just can't seem to see? (Guyjardo?)

Posted by: Tim Crawford | April 2, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Might I reiterate...Wells, protect...the

Posted by: Andy | April 2, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I like Christopher Sullivan...very knowledgeable commentator.... I don't know though...Maybe it was because DCU was losing, but Bretos drove me more insane than usual last night. When he started the "Tuzos! Tuzos!" chant I thought I was going to vomit...that and the Build up into the UEFA Cup plug on FSC. UGH! When that guy's commentating I feel like I'm watching TV with some blabbermouth distant relative that I have to pretend to like to appease mom. I wish they would let Sullivan do the games on his own.

Posted by: Goff....but not Steve | April 2, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Maybe I was watching another game... but I couldn't find Burch most of the time. I'd agree with Peralta getting a good rating because most of the time he was playing center back and left back. Every once in a while Burch would recover the ball after a turnover and make a good move to relieve the pressure but generally passed it right back to Pachuca. On D, he was either missing or making a rash lunge leaving the CB's exposed.

Getting worried about Gallardo and our lack of speed from everyone but Fred.

Posted by: SpikeFC | April 2, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I am always miffed when it comes to these kind of performances. I think we started well for the first 25 minutes, had a few chances, and then fell off considerably as the game progressed. I assume some of that had to do with the altitude. I also place some of the blame on Soehn for his substitutions. Soehn should know we're vulnerable to this type of enviornment and he should make substitutions in the 65th minute accordinngly.

I don't think I will ever understand the concept of playing for a 0-0 or 1-1 tie in an away match. It just doesnt make sense to me. You always play to win. Always. Playing for anything else will usually end up in a lose. It seems like everytime we away play in one of these competitions we always play to tie...I don't understand that mind set.

Emilio doesnt have it this year, thats for sure. He was never the fastest guy, but it seems like he did'nt work out in the offseason. I question his work ethic. We may have to do some mid-season acquistions if we want to have a decent year. We need forwards who can score.

I don't fault Niell, hes a good player trapped in a crappy body. He tries, his bodies just limits him to what he can produce on the field.

I agree whole heartidly on Wells. He can't leave the near post open like that. That should NEVER happen.

Posted by: strago | April 2, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

"Christopher Sullivan: is it just me or did he find a "j" in Gallardo's name that I just can't seem to see? (Guyjardo?"

Tim - I believe this is the Argentinian accent on double L's in words/ almost has the sound of a Z or J

Posted by: Goff...but not Steve | April 2, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Tim Crawford: I'm certainly no expert but my understanding is that the Argentines pronounce double-l almost like an English 'j'. I'm guessing that's how Gallardo himself would say it?

Posted by: Doppler | April 2, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Emilio just looks like he came into this season really out of shape. It really looks like he has lost that quick first step and burst. Hopefully it's just a fitness issue and not an age issue. We really need him to be in last year's form if we have a chance to win anything this year.

Posted by: DCU & VW | April 2, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Max Bretos - he's knowledgeable but not as polished in his delivery. At least he knows the game. Sometimes he does talk too much and I'm sure it's also a side effect of being in a STUDIO rather than at most matches. All considered, he's better than most.

THE ONLY thing I can't stand about Bretos was his interview with David Beckham this weekend when he looked like he might need a change of pants afterwards. Sometimes a little too star struck to be on television.

Posted by: Virginia Blue Blood | April 2, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

We've got a mountain to climb back in DC. Not impossible though. The first half last night we had some moments when we could have put one in. Clearly in the second half, Soehn put the guys in a defensive stance. Never works. Chasing on defense for 45 minutes at altitude is certain to fail, as it did. Everybody was gassed by the end.

Fred was awesome last night.

To the negative comments on Fred's passing, Gallardo's passing and passing from the back: there's nobody to pass to. As fitness and chemistry come along these guys are gonna be fine.

Emilio particularly has had a club foot in the early going. No touch to speak of. When the mids try to link up with him we lose possession. Same goes to a lesser degree for Niell. Moreno is going to make a huge impact in that department. Just as he was a huge help to Gomez in the offensive third, he'll do for Gallardo.

Why all the love for the Gonzalos? Martinez looked awful with the ball at his feet, missed several marks, and passed the ball away on several occasions. Peralta looked more composed with the ball at his feet and seemed to read the game better. But we got shelled for one easy goal off a cross. There was a shot in the first half that was played straight into Wells' arms where the guy received the ball right on the penalty spot with time to collect and shoot. Finally there was that cross in the second half where the mark was behind the Pachuca player, but the cross was just a few inches too long for him to get on the end of it. That doesn't sound like solid central defensive play to me.

All in all, it's too early to push the panic button. I'm still hopeful that with another week of practice, another game under our belts, sea level altitude, a returning Moreno, and the friendly confines of RFK DCU can come up with the goals to force overtime and maybe pull out a win.

Posted by: Matte | April 2, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I am going to give United a break, it's 4 games into the season with 5 new players starting and away at altitude against a pretty solid team (that's in season). That being said the offense has been stagnant other than the home game v. Harbor View. All the talk about depth makes me laugh there is no depth on this DC team, who comes off the bench to provide a spark? Getting Moreno healthy helps but you gotta figure he won't be coming off the bench nor will Olsen. Hopefully someone like Quaranta or Kirk can be more than what we expect. Yes it's early but look at what Gomez did against LA on Sat. I already miss the guy even more now... Can't wait for Olson and Moreno to get healthy. Have Simms and Olsen behind Gllardo and Fred and please get Namoff (way too slow) out of the starting lineup and insert McTavish.

Posted by: glove | April 2, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone hear the spanish broadcast, they were talking about DC trying to get its own stadium becaue they share RFK with the redskins???????

Posted by: yo its me | April 2, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

T. Crawford, it's because that's how we say Gallardo's name in argentina. You know Sullivan loves his spanish .....anyways give the team about 5 or 6 more games and they'll tear it up.

Posted by: frank | April 2, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Pachuca: veteran team players who have been with the team for years... new players added as needed (with tremendous skill and pace!)... their years playing together is evident as they put a great "possession clinic" last night. DC could not hold on to the ball for more than about 10 seconds at a time... then back to playing defence.

DC: team has too many new players still trying to understand the suttle runs and off-the-ball movements of each other... Gallardo is a great distributor. If you watch him, he is still taking too long to figure out where his teammates are making the runs. Pachuca did a great job of double-teaming him and cut his forward vision off... he generally had to look side-to-side for distribution... few forward penetrating passes. That takes more than two months of training.

Look forward to the return game at RFK... now DC can play attacking futbol (what choice do they have?!) and hopefully it will be an entertaining game for the fans.

Posted by: dan | April 2, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Most of our players lacked pace and when pressured gave away balls that ended up killing the attack.

As far as the ref, I though he was good, however, he scared me many times when he would sprint to the point of the infraction. Most of the time that means a card is coming.

I see DC scoring 2 goals at home. The problem with that is I also see Pachuca scoring a couple.

Posted by: peridigm | April 2, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Glad that you recognized Bretos and Sullivan for their work. While they can both be idiosyncratic I'm beginning to think that they're one of the best teams in the U.S.

Posted by: JB | April 2, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"that was a lucky cross that went in the goal"

Dude, that was a shot all the way. Look at the replay-- you can see Montes glance up to check Wells' position, and his follow-through (to his left) indicates that he was shooting. It was a great goal, helped by a stupid blunder by Wells.

Posted by: Mastodon Juan | April 2, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I thought both teams at time displayed some fine futbal. I thought DCU didn't look slow so much as Pachuca lived up to their speedy reputation.

What really seemed to kill us were passes and runs that were just off by a yard or two, which I chalk up to a very new team not yet gelled. Though I admit to being confounded by Niell. Is he trying to draw PKs instead of shooting?

And maybe I've got the rose colored glasses on, but it seemed that individuals won some beautiful battles through double coverage (granted only to give the ball away on a slow or late pass). I think time together will bring those passes in line.

Lastly, as I wait on the report of how many ManU fans were stabbed by Roma fans, let's give some credit for quality respectful play by both sides. Nice to see.

Posted by: DCU-ATL | April 2, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I hate to admit it but Mastodon Juan is right that was a Laser guided bomb that caught Zach way out of position.
Great shot.
Martinez should take 90% of the blame on the free kick. Were his feet glued to the ground?
Come back Jaime and Emilio please don't turn into the brazilian Homer Simpson dude! You look fat, slow, Dooooogh!

Posted by: Dadryan | April 2, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Gonzalos - fine, good tacklers but need to get to know Wells a bit more (and vice-versa). More talking (shouting?!) about marks and responsibilities looks necessary.

Gallardo/Emilio - not worried, they'll both come good in MLS. Showed up in spurts last night.

Fred - very nice at times, needs to be a force in the return leg and throughout the season. Has to prove to Soehn that his name must be one of the first on the team sheet. I just feel that he's never really had a position at United.

Burch/Wells - both looked a little out of their depth. Understandable against a very talented side. Burch felt the altitude, big time.

Niell - now I see why he was playing for Dr. Brown's Cream Soda, or whatever that Argentine second division club is called.

Tino - we need him, time for him to translate his talk of redemption and talent into a breakthrough season.

Posted by: Kev | April 2, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Last night, DCU didn't even look like they belonged on the same pitch as Pachuca. While Pachuca controlled the mid-field, stringing 5-6-7-8 passes together as they mounted an attack, all United defenders could do was win the ball then pass it right back to Pachuca.

It seemed like Pachuca were playing with 13 men to United's 10 all match. They played faster, stronger, and more composed all night. If we didn't have Wells, Peralta, and Martinez in the back, it should have been 5-0.

As far as our attack, it's hard to build an attack when you can't link passes. Emilio is a good goal scorer, but he's only an "opportunistic" goal scorer, meaning he puts himself in the right position to score goals when the opportunity comes. He does not score well off of long balls to him. He is NOT, a creator by any means. He's not fast and clever like an Henry or Messi or strong like a (Brazilian) Ronaldo (of old). He needs other people to set up goals for him. He needs a Christian Gomez and Jaime Moreno setting him up. Until Gallardo gets his game together and we get Olson and Jaime back from injury, Emilio scores 3 goals in all competitions, at best.

Posted by: J on K St | April 2, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I thought DC didn't pace itself. Started out running with great energy then tired after 15 or 20 minutes.

Goff, good article but how about lobbying the Sports editors about getting some better placement. I know the game ended after midnight but it could have been at least mentioned in small type somewhere in the left hand column of the print edition. Kornheiser and Wilbon's navel gazing about basketball games next Saturday get much higher prominence (I say this as a b-ball tournament fan).

Mexican sports magazine MedioTiempo has their post-game photo gallery up. Apparently FSN isn't the only media that can't tell our new Gonzalos apart.

Posted by: garbaggio | April 2, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Burch scares me, half his passes went to Pachuca players! Emilio looks disheartened. I may have to jump on the "wondering what Neill is doing" bandwagon. Reffing was suspect, as all a Pachuca player had to do was fall to get a penalty. And I said it on BS and I'll say it here.......
The Pachuca goalie got more action from their mascot than from DC United!

Posted by: boda united | April 2, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

"Reffing was suspect"

Perhaps the nicest thing anyone has ever said about a CONCACAF official.

Posted by: Kev | April 2, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

"Did anyone hear the spanish broadcast, they were talking about DC trying to get its own stadium becaue they share RFK with the redskins???????"

Yeah, I caught that too. They also said "I remember last year when Wells let in that goal by Chivas in this same tournament. It was like he scored an own goal."

Um... that was someone else. And he went on to play in Europe for 3/4 of a million dollars.

What pissed me off was when Fred nutmegged a Pachuca player in the first half and made a nice play and one announcer said "who says soccer in America isn't getting better? That was well done!" and the other guy goes "Yes, but where is Fred from? Brasil!" They went on to try to figure out how many United players were born in the US (5 of the 11 starters) and said "but Gonzalo Peralta looks like a gringo".


Posted by: David | April 2, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Were the second half goals allowed by Wells dreadful? If not, a 4 rating seems harsh given the quality of some of his saves in the first half.

Posted by: Marc | April 2, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

DC United Fan said at April 2, 2008 08:54 AM

"Fred is a BUDDING superstar."

And he always will be.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 2, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Peralta seems to be the best bang for the buck for these year's acquisitions.

DCU still needs more time to work tighter together. Many of the bad passes seemed to be off because that instinct for other players isn't there yet. How far forward Gallardo threads a ball depends on who's receiving it. It's a second sense one develops.

The foreign players are much quicker with the ball and stand in contrast to our American bred players.

There is a lot of potential out there - we'll have a great season.

Posted by: ML | April 2, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I've only had time to read the first 20 comments yet, but I think people need to retain a little perspective here. No MLS team has won (or even tied if I'm correct) in Mexico. Houston, the two-time defending champions, went down there last year and lost by two goals. And personally, anything the team did in the second half was heavily affected by the altitude. You could see they were starting to get winded before the first half was over. Honestly, 2-0 was the best that could be realistically expected. You could always hope for better, and I definitely did, but this does not reflect as badly on our team as some seem to think.

Posted by: Leaky123 | April 2, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Some thoughts.

I am becoming very concerned about Wells. He has played two games and given up 4 goals. Professional level Keepers do not give up goals to the near post. Wells positional play is pretty poor, I can see why he is still a sub at 27.

I've give the guy his due for effort but please Neill is nowhere close to being an impact player at this level. And Frankly if you can deal with the less physical Mexican teams, what on earth is he going to do with MLS defenders.

I still say we are very thin at forward. Moreno is/was a great player but he is just not going to provide the goals he did previously. Neill is a bust and Quaranta is a recycled bust. Did we even have 1 yes 1 shot on Pachuca?

I was actually ok with the backline and the midfield for the most part. I think they were just gassed with the altitude. I'm more puzzelled why Sohn did not sub earlier BEFORE players were gassed.

Posted by: Nick from Big Soccer | April 2, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Kev- that's Argentinos jr. were niell came from . A 1st division club , same one Maradona debut it with before moving to Boca jrs. Get your head out of your A** and learn were your own players have come from.

Posted by: frank | April 2, 2008 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Lots of good observations here.

Neill the "wee man." So not PC, but friggin hillarious!!! I hope he makes it happen out there. He reminds me of an old Metro Stars player who was also small, de Ávila. Nickname: El Pitufo "The Smurf." He got knocked off the ball a bit too, but scored 15 goals in MLS.

These guys need to get it together soon. Gallardo shows flashes of his vision, but I am missing the grit and determination of Gomez. I love DC, but I gotta admit that Pachuca really shined with their skill and organization. It was really hard to watch DC play in such a defensive manner without success on the attack. A game I would rather forget.

Posted by: modynoc | April 2, 2008 7:09 PM | Report abuse

In my opinion defense was solid in the 1st half but for some reason something went wrong durin the 2nd half. In my point of view I think coach Tom Soehn should give Carvallo a shot for the starting XI for the next home game vs Toronto FC and Pachuca cause Wells has not impressed me at all.

Posted by: jeffrey | April 2, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

I actually don't blame Wells on that first goal. I know people think he should have been covering the near post but I've watched the replay a bunch of times and I think the Pachuca player mis hit the ball. He was trying to cross it and caught it wrong for a cross but great for what ended up being a goal. Look at the angle he was at with a defender relatively near by, there is no way that was an on purpose shot.

Nick from BigSoccer, plenty of pro keepers get beat at the near post. Tony Meola being the biggest culprit, but David James had a penchant for this as have others.

Posted by: owendylan | April 2, 2008 8:58 PM | Report abuse

3 things:

1. Will someone buy Niell some new boots, maybe golf shoes? The guy spends most of his time on the ground.
2. Why did we lose Gomez again? League MVP 2006, how many game winners and game winning assists last year? (hint: it's a lot)
3. Anyone else notice that EVERY Pachuca player had as much or more skill than our very expensive "hero" Gallardo.
4. OK, 4 things. Burch and Fred have to learn to use their "other" foot. You guys are professionals, you need to be able to at lesst (literally!) touch the ball in a dribble w/ your right and left foot (respectively).

Posted by: dbcoyle | April 3, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

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