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DCU Update

In talking with United Coach Tom Soehn and the players, you get the sense that the club is fiercely determined to end this terrible stretch of soccer and defeat Toronto tomorrow night. You hear things like, "We're tried of losing," "We have no choice but to turn it around" and "Things are starting to fall into place."

No one offered specific solutions, only that they must reduce mistakes, play together and give a full effort for 90 minutes -- 25 more than they put in against Chivas USA on Saturday.

We've heard all of this before, of course. So let's see if the club is true to its words or if this slide into the Eastern Conference abyss continues.

Player status: Fred is traveling with the team today, although he said he's not able to play 90 minutes after missing three games. From early indications, Devon McTavish and Gonzalo Peralta will also be available.

As for Luciano Emilio, he said he is working hard, is not frustrated and not down on himself. He insists he did not start Saturday because of his quadriceps strain, even though Soehn was on the record saying that the club needed to look at someone else in that position. "I feel better now and I expect to be in the starting lineup," the Brazilian said.

Did Soehn see enough from him in the second half vs. Chivas to return him to the starting lineup?

Soehn: "Ten players and a goalie."

What did you like about what he did when he came in the other day?

Soehn: "Ten players and a goalie."

Well, okay then.

My hunch is that Emilio will pair with Jaime Moreno, Fred will start on the left and go 60 minutes and Peralta will return to the lineup.


By Steve Goff  |  May 20, 2008; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Next: Morrow Out in Dallas


Hopefully there aren't any streamer-related injuries on Wednesday night.

Posted by: DC United 3 - 1 Toronto FC | May 20, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"things are starting to fall into last place"

Posted by: pat | May 20, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Um, we're only 2 wins away from equaling the ultimate in MLS futility!

Posted by: Virginia Blue Blood | May 20, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

"Ten players and a goalie."

Oooooh - get her?!

Posted by: Kev | May 20, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Call me crazy, but I liked Doe in there, tracking back at times to get involved. On the road, you need to do that -- this is a home-team dominated league this year, after all.

Posted by: RK | May 20, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Is gallardo healthy and expected to play?

Posted by: Marc | May 20, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Nice work, Goff. Is any of this frustration developing into animosity towards the press (you in particular)? What's with the "10 players and a goalie" deal? I know being last in the Conf. and deep in a winless streak is no fun, but do you get a sense of optimism in the air, or are people just going through the motions and talking fluff? Thanks for the good work.

Posted by: Kosh | May 20, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Does McTavish return as a starter?

Posted by: Section 130 | May 20, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

If fred plays we will be a different team. when Gallardo comes deep to get the ball he can play it up through Fred or Moreno.

without fred, the options go away and gallardo can't find people open. saddness.

lets go dc

Posted by: bribri | May 20, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Where is the team that beat Pachuca? We lost the series to the best team in the region by one goal, but beat them during a game at home with a heart-felt effort in the waning moments, and kept it respectable at altitutede in Mexcio against an in-form team.

Where are "the flying Gonzalo brothers?" Everyone was talking about our best defense in years, but lately we've looked bad.

United has shown an ability to play excellent soccer, and I remain convinced that we can get back to that. I have not lost faith in this team.

Posted by: David | May 20, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Did Soehn take some press lessons from Rafa Benitez? "I'm concentrating on the training and the game" over and over again "Ten players and a goalie" over and over again.

Posted by: Nick | May 20, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Of course Emilio is happy. He doesn't have to work hard and score goals but he gets dp slot so why not? I would be happy too if I had the opportunity like that. What a pathetic duck! Soehn better not rush Fred. They can't offer specific solutions because they don't know what the hell they are doing right now.

Posted by: f | May 20, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm not panicked yet, but it's looking grim. We're a good ways into the season, and we're not even looking like turning it around. Getting worse actually.

Gotta look at coaching. Still too many aimless long balls played forward. Still not enough guys checking to the ball to provide outlets. Not enough cohesion on the defensive side to perform rudimentary marking.

Having said that, getting Fred back will be a boost. And I still believe Emilio can get it together. You can't go from penthouse to outhouse in just a couple months, can you?

Posted by: Matte | May 20, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"Ten players and a goalie" -- there you have it folks, the brilliant strategy that will rally the sullen, downtrodden troops and lead us to the the rarified hieghts of, of, well, um you see, ... its like this...hmmm... it was on the tip of my tongue.

Posted by: Ron | May 20, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

If I remember correctly (a huge IF), in 1996 DC United started off with an equally terrible record. I don't believe there was a lot of blogging going on, but I do recall concerns about Bruce Arena being good enough for MLS and if he made mistakes going with an almost all-UVA team.

My point? Not sure, other than this club has demonstrated an ability to come back from poor starts to a season. I think many of us can agree that the talent of the first 11 is good enough to win games. "Heart" and "effort for 90 minutes" seem to be the missing elements. Those things seem easier to change than a lack of talent.

While I'm disappointed in the quality of the play, I'm not ready for Tommy's head or to throw in the towel on the season. Other MLS teams will experience multi-game losing streaks, and if United gets into a rythym, then the playoffs are a possibility.

OK, I'm going back to my PB&J sandwich.

Posted by: Joe Doc | May 20, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

gotta agree with the earlier post from "david"...

Also, where's or who's the "Enforcer"???

Who has Gallardo's or Moreno's back when teams keep hitting them with those heavy tackles???

We all know Benny is being held back on the sideline, but who on th pitch is going to fight back???

Looking for a hero, but an enforcer will do.

Keep your heads United...

20 game winning streak starts tomorrow...

Posted by: Cashous | May 20, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Glad Soehn has decided to STFU and coach his team.
Hopefully it'll pay off tomorrow night.
Gallardo did take a break the last time he got banged up and they were out of town on turf...
wonderin' if he's gonna start as well.
Thanks Steve, through thick and thin you are the man.

Posted by: Dadryan | May 20, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I hope I'm wrong, but I'd guess we are gonna get pasted in Toronto, and then it will be do or die for Tommie on Saturday.

Posted by: Ron | May 20, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Big difference between '96 and today. Better teams, better coaching and more people fighting for playoff spots. Not that it can't be done, but it will be tough and I don't feel like Tommy's making this bunch (Talented? Yes.) that iron-hot, detremined group that teams are afraid to face.

PB&J sandwich...yummmmmm.

Posted by: Kosh | May 20, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Re the enforcer, I hear Donald Brashear isn't doing anything at the moment.

Posted by: Ron | May 20, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

talk is cheap. time for them to stop talking and start doing.

Like it or not these are the players we have and they are going to have to bring for 90 minutes. I think having Fred back will help a good bit.

The difference between the team that beat Pachuca at home and the one we have seen lately is the absence of Fred and McTavish. Those are two guys who work pretty hard and battle.

Posted by: Glenn | May 20, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone get the feeling that the FO watched RUDY on one of their flights down to Argentina and were so inspired, so moved that they absolutely had to have Niell?


Posted by: Kosh | May 20, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone get the feeling that the FO watched RUDY on one of their flights down to Argentina and were so inspired, so moved that they absolutely had to have Niell?


Posted by: Kosh | May 20, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Double post. My bad.

Posted by: Kosh | May 20, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

"Ten players and a goalie." - Maybe we should sneak an extra player on.

Soehn might be working Perkins old job at our favorite local sporting goods store soon.

Posted by: Ike | May 20, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: lineup | May 20, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: lineup | May 20, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I'd rather see McTavish and Fred on the wings with Quaranta up-top alongside Moreno. Let Luci sit a match and watch what hustle looks like.

Posted by: verse | May 20, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Can we sit Mr. Wells down for a game?

I know that Carvallo played shockingly in Salt Lake - but my lord, Zach gives me no confidence that he has any ability to make a play that will keep us in a match.

I'm not asking him to stop EVERYTHING that comes at him, but he's not making the handful of saves that you expect out of the position to keep your side in the fight. And watching his lack of communication with defenders and seeing him fumble the balls he comes out aggressively for makes me want to launch my remote through the screen or want to see a flare hit him Dida style.

Posted by: Virginia Blue Blood | May 20, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Tommy's comments just bug me at this point. His silly little media blackout and non-answers sure are helping this team get their act together and win some games.

Posted by: downtown | May 20, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

"If I remember correctly (a huge IF), in 1996 DC United started off with an equally terrible record. I don't believe there was a lot of blogging going on, but I do recall concerns about Bruce Arena being good enough for MLS and if he made mistakes going with an almost all-UVA team."

United got to take a mulligan and dump Berthy Suarez for Moreno in 1996. That, the relatively poor competition, and the fact that Arena didn't have to divide his time between the U-23s and United after the Olympics turned the season around. (And the leadership of Harkes and Etcheverry! I can't leave that out.)

There might be a chance to bring in a key player mid-season this year, though it will be very hard to get anywhere near the off-season value for Emilio, and MLS no longer allows do-overs like the one that brought in Moreno.

The other key factors from 1996 are not really repeatable in 2008. I certainly think United could turn it around, but 1996 is not a valid precedent.

Posted by: Mastodon Juan | May 20, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

that was sarcasm

Posted by: downtown | May 20, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Don't put Carvallo in again 1) on the road and 2) on turf. Not until he's more comfortable/has experience with the team.

Posted by: RK | May 20, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Quaranta up-top alongside Moreno. Let Luci sit a match and watch what hustle looks like.

Posted by: verse | May 20, 2008 1:42 PM

Watch the third Chivas goal from the Chivas match. SQ kept the attacker (Harris) onside, then stood and watched the Goal scorer (Flores) run into scoring position. That's the hustle you got from SQ in that match.

Posted by: JkR | May 20, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Granted, Quaranta did fall short on that final goal -- but do watch the rest of the match (as well as the last few). He's one of the few, alongside Namoff and Gallardo, who consistently has his heart in the game.

Also, it's no secret that he's a better attacker than defender -- all the more reason to have him up top making runs.

Posted by: verse | May 20, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Closing practice, refusing to open the locker room after the match, and now the "ten players and a goalie" response to each question proves that Soehn has quit blaming his team and is now blaming the media, Mr. Goff in particular, for the poor results.

Oh, wait, he still blames the players. Just not himself.

Posted by: George | May 20, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

He was also singled out against the Fire for ball watching on the Mapp (Blanco, to Barrett to Mapp I think?) goal.

I like some of his offensive runs, and perhaps his skill, but I just wouldn't single him out for 'hustle', nor am I in a mood to reward his ball watching.

I like him as a sub...

Posted by: JkR | May 20, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Put Quaranta up top with Moreno and we will get back to playing attacking soccer

Posted by: highlandtown oldtimer | May 20, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, is the "ten players and a goalie" bit part of the media blackout? If so, it worries me all the more - "My team is playing like a JV high school team from Idaho, it must be all the press coverage."
I understand the desire to keep some things secret or at least low-key, but some how other MLS teams are running smoothly while making themselves available to the press.
Frankly, its Goff's job he's making more difficult and, sorry Goff, I don't care that much. Its just worrisome that Soehn seems to think this is actually part of the solution.

Posted by: Skippy | May 20, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Here, here JkR.

Even as an attacker, Tino does not take people on, and his timing and decision making are not the best when it comes to holding the ball or when to pass/cross. I don't wish to harp on him alone, but he has been resposible for shutting down at key moments in the last few games. I just don't get why he always gets a pass and represents "hustle". Yeah, in the land of the blind and all that, but that does not really mean much. To me at least.

Posted by: Kosh | May 20, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

The team looks different without Fred in the lineup. Emilio plays better with Fred's attacking flair. Namoff has been playing with heart.

Posted by: JLman3 | May 20, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

It's possible that Soehn views his team as vulnerable right now and doesn't think his players would benefit from seeing lineup projections in the paper. Just guessing, but that wouldn't be an outrageous decision, IMHO. He my not be 'blaming the media' just holding his cards a little closer. Again, guessing....

The 10 players and goalie line is a hand me down from Nowak and is hardly unique to this coach.

Posted by: JkR | May 20, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

"ten players and a goalie" is an olive branch from Coach Soehn to the blogsphere--no need to spend a half hour inserting dashes, asterisks and umlauts to create the hypothetical starting lineup; just throw 'em out there.

I'll go with:

Wells BurchPerPerNamoffFredSimmsMcTGallardoQuarantaDoe

Thanks, Coach!

Posted by: Mr. Krys | May 20, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Rk i completely agree with you. doe did play well and he doesny play selfishly. he put some great balls on the wings and passes well. id like to see him start more. but just as theory. would it be possible to put emilio on the wing. just a suggestion. and yes carvallo should start ar least one game this week. what better firlds then bmo and rfk. again another suggestion.

Posted by: fisty409 | May 20, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

RE: 10P & a G. Soehn has never been forthcoming with Steve. He talks in coachspeak. So I don't see this as blaming the media (is Steve keeping Emilio from scoring?).

RE: 2008 v 1996. I'm the pessimist. I see it more like the 2000 team. Rongen inherited the best DC United squad ever and won the MLS Cup the following year. Then the wheels came off the axle. I see that as a better parallel for the 2008 season to-date. Lots of talent, lack of motivation. I wrote few weeks back that we were out of the fixture congestion and high altitude part of the schedule. This team has not looked energized since then. Note that I am not calling for anyone to be fired.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | May 20, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

What a crummy way to respond to a fair question. The guy must be getting a lot of pressure to perform, and he's not handling it very well. It's not Goff's fault that the team blows.

Posted by: Hacksaw | May 20, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Very simple - get rid of Payne

Posted by: Simple | May 20, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Simple or Simpleton?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | May 20, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Soehn is a tool bag. Does he think he is coaching a world class club or something? This is MLS dude, get off yer high horse and start taking some of the blame for the lack of results. So when do we play the galaxatives? Hopefully they will smear us in the mud like they did Dallas and Soehn will be history. I really don't like this guy.

Posted by: peridigm | May 20, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

the great thing about last place is that we've got nowhere to go but up! (right?!)

as for our goalie situation.. i'm disappointed the whole 'we've got two fantastic new goalies that will be fighting for the position' spiel we got in the off-season hasn't amounted to half that. Goff, has Carvallo been active in the practices? playing any reserves games?

Posted by: JB | May 20, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

He's just a playa-hata...

Posted by: spike_2.0 | May 20, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I hope Soehn gets sacked soon so you can get back to reporting the team/training properly. I think he needs to look a little further than the beat writers of MLS for his team's chronic poor form.

His team is wretched and if Morrow is culpable, and they're in the middle of the West and in a playoff spot, then Soehn should start packing now.

Posted by: Aljarov | May 20, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

The pairing of Moreno with Emilio hasn't produced much this season. Why should it be different now? I would put McTavish at right wing and move Santino to forward, probably pairing him with Emilio (because Jaime almost never shoots and Emilio will.) Bring Jaime on as a sub.

Posted by: Hedbal | May 20, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Pet peeve: Could we quit bragging we beat Pachuca at home? It's an aggregate! Pachuca was two goals up when the ref blew the whistle to start in DC, and Pachuca played like a team sitting on a two-goal lead -- not like the attacking powerhouse they are when they're racking up a lead. Not that they weren't attacking at all, but when they turned it on again in the final 45, they got their third goal.

Getting out of the "second half" of the match (i.e., the 90 at home) 2-1 is better than losing, but it's not the same as winning a stand-alone match. We weren't that good.

Posted by: dcca | May 20, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

without looking at anyones posts (time constraint!) i think that we need to put the combination of Tino and Moreno up top! Tino has been the cause of a few goals this season, because he is NOT a wing player. he has killed himself to help out defensively and has run out of steam at the end of games. sadly costing the team a few goals. but at least he is out there working his ass off! his offensive capabilities have been hurt by his defensive play. i believe that the triangle of Tino, Moreno, and gallardo will lead to offensive success. also putting in kirk and giving him a chance would be a wonderful idea. from what i remember he works hard and tracks back effectively on defense! fred will be back on the left and peralta will be back. i believe that if sohen starts tino up top and kirk on the right of midfield we will destroy toronto (if mc tavish is back he is a better option). there ive said my piece!

Posted by: XioPik | May 20, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

anyone agree with the before mentioned? what do you think should be our wide players/forwards? obviously our #10 is gallardo =P

Posted by: XioPik | May 20, 2008 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Everyone change your line ups. Just heard that Marc Burch and Rod Dyachenko are going to be out for the game against toronto due to two yellow cards. This really sucks. any new line up suggestions.

Posted by: DCU BIG FAN | May 20, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

i think that they are suspended if they get two more yellow cards each...not sure though

Posted by: XioPik | May 20, 2008 7:17 PM | Report abuse

So I watched Jorge Flores' goal video a few times and I have a question -- who was the right back that let him just walk by unmarked? Its clear from the video that the guy made no effort to engage him.

Is this the kind of effort thats expected from a "re-inspired" DC United? Looked to me like the guy just wasn't interested in being there.

Posted by: Eugene | May 20, 2008 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Don't understand the general Quaranta hatin' (not necessarily just on this thread). I've watched every game this season, and the Chivas game live, and Q has been consistently running his ass off, energized, getting in people's faces, and making runs. He got so fired up here in LA that he almost got in a fight after Kljestan taunted the Barra. And for a guy without any track records to his name he's been running from end to end quite a bit, hustling back on D. He's not always so effective when he gets there, but he's not a defender either.

I don't know what gotten into him this season (well, okay, I can guess), but he's been doing his best, and much much better than before.

Quit hatin'.

Posted by: viv | May 20, 2008 7:29 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't sure so I double-checked

"A player will be suspended for one game upon receiving his fifth yellow card"

Posted by: DCUMD | May 20, 2008 7:34 PM | Report abuse

I appreciate Tino's effort and i cant wait to see him up top (his natural position) and getting both of our wide players back would be a huge boost! especially the defensive balance added by Mc Tavish, allowing namoff to overlap forward. these quick successive games is exactly what we need! we need to just get back out there and go at it! keep the lineup the same (as long as TS can pick the correct one, something he has yet to do) we need to gel and we need to do it now! My prediction, DC 2 Toronto 1...I know two goals on the road and a win!?!?!? but heck ive got faith!!! p.s. all this depends on Tino getting the start uptop with Moreno. if not ill go 2-0 toronto =(

Posted by: XioPik | May 20, 2008 7:57 PM | Report abuse

All I know is that I'm starting Greg Sutton on my fantasy team this week

Posted by: DCUMD | May 20, 2008 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Yeah well, for the first time this season, im starting Moreno! because he will be in the thick of anything DC does going forward. also he isn't prone to yellow card me =P

Posted by: XioPik | May 20, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Fred will be a very welcome addition. The combination of skill, speed, and his high work rate have been missing, allowing teams to simply key on Gallardo (with Quaranta out of form and no one else contributing to the attack from midfield) to shut us down. Emilio, for me, is still suffering from both poor form and poor service, while Doe looked a bit more able to create something with Moreno. That said, Emilio has had his way with Toronto...maybe they can be a tonic for him.


Something tells me you just misread the MLSnet match preview. Burch and Dyachenko are 2 yellow cards away from suspension. The only way they'll miss the game tomorrow is if they get hurt at the hotel. I also had to chuckle at the idea of people changing their lineup predictions to account for Dyachenko being out.

Posted by: Chest Rockwell | May 20, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what K. Payne thinks of Soehn's elusive and ridiculous responses to Goff. In my mind, this doesn't help a coach trying not to get fired.

Goff has given DCU more press publicity than anyone. Turning on him is almost like turning on...dare I say it...the Barra Brava.

Just doesn't make sense.

Posted by: Fattygol | May 20, 2008 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Ten players and a goalie are his way of saying it doesn't matter who is on the field, they're a team and they all need to step it up. Not just Emilio.

Posted by: TCompton | May 21, 2008 12:43 AM | Report abuse

"Did Soehn see enough from him in the second half vs. Chivas to return him to the starting lineup?

Soehn: "Ten players and a goalie."

What did you like about what he did when he came in the other day?

Soehn: "Ten players and a goalie."

Well, okay then."

TCompton may have it right, but then it would have been fair for Goff to then ask : What ten players and a goalie will play? And Why?"

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

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