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Who's to Blame?

D.C. United failed to get past the Champions' Cup semifinals again. It has lost five of its first seven league matches, has not scored a goal on the road and been vulnerable at home. Who is to blame?

THE PLAYERS?
Luciano Emilio has gone from MVP (most valuable player) to MWP (most worthless player). In staying with our Volkswagen-themed week, we simply turned the V into a W. ;-) Zach Wells has not been the standout goalkeeper the club had hoped and Franco Niell has had no impact on the game. Marcelo Gallardo has been good, but not great.

THE COACH?
Tom Soehn led the club to the Supporters' Shield in his first season as head coach, but has failed to inspire his team on the road and has labored to integrate new players with the veterans and produce a cohesive lineup .

THE FRONT OFFICE?
After all, Dave Kasper and Kevin Payne (along with Soehn) built this roster. Are they not responsible for who they signed?

CIRCUMSTANCES?
Josh Gros was forced into early retirement, Troy Perkins wanted desperately to go to Europe, Ben Olsen's ankle problems did not subside and the congested spring schedule took its toll.

All of the above?

Your thoughts.....

By Steve Goff  |  May 9, 2008; 11:18 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Comments

Oh SNAP!

Goff in full effect.

Posted by: Erick | May 9, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

never should have let gomez go...

Posted by: poopoo | May 9, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Who's to blame? When Tattoo from Fantasy Island and Adimral Akbar from Star Wars are in your starting lineup, I think you know the problems start at the front office. Not to mention the loss of the heart, soul and drive of the team and subsequent non-replacement of said players (Olsen, Gomez, Gros, Carroll, Perkins, Boswell, Erpen).

When your coach has gone 4-9-4 since October and winless on the road since September and can't tactically change a lineup to produce results, I think you know there are problems with the coaching.

And when you have the reigning MVP gunshy and lacking form, fitness and pace, a fit- for-45-minutes aging icon and a host of players who can't seem to play up to their potential on the field, I think you know there are motivation and desire problems with the players.

I blame Greg Vanney. It was him coming to the team that started it all.

Thx,

Jay!

Posted by: JayRockers! | May 9, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Taking Gros and Olsen's scrappiness out of this team has had more of an impact than I would have ever guessed.

Emilio's slump has been awful.

Neill is a bench player at this point, a change of pace.

I think Soehn has been reaching to try to find some kind of combination that works, to no avail.

Posted by: Longshoe | May 9, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Gomez should never have been let go. Losing Olsen, Gros and Perkins hurts. Their replacements have not lived up to the hype.

Posted by: 204 | May 9, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Its the circumstances.... we must give it more time... with gallardo fred and mctavish last nights game would have been different.... I'd also like to see Kirk get more time off the bench..

Posted by: Josh | May 9, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Ultimately I believe it is the players on the field who bear the greatest share of the responsibility. They are the ones who are not executing even the simplest plays. They are the ones losing their marks. They are the ones passing the ball directly to their opponents. They are the ones who put themselves out of position. They are the ones not running off the ball. It is impossible to believe that that is the game plan the coaching staff has designed. These are professional players. They know how to play soccer. They just aren't getting the job done. There is enough talent there to at least compete. Altho I am critical of Fred on many occasions I think we are really missing the elements he brings to the table over the last few games.

That said, of course it is easier to fire the coach than it is to fire all of the players. IF there were an outstanding candidate available and willing it might make sense to shake things up. Everyone has started clamoring for Arena or Etch. I am not sure that Arena is necessarily the greatest idea. But I am a bit intrigued by having Marco in charge. Does he have any coaching experience at this point? Altho I suppose Nowak didn't and he took us to the last Cup. You know Marco will hold people accountable and there's no way that the players could have anything but respect for him. I am not sure how much they really respect Soehn.

Posted by: Glenn | May 9, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Coaching makes no difference...

Posted by: Jim Larranaga | May 9, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

It's a coaching issue the fact that the team does not shoot outside the box. It's like they have to set up the "perfect" shot, if there is such a thing. It's a coaching issue the fact that there was a huge gap several times last night between the defense and midfield. There was very few overlapping passes last night, and I don't remember ever seeing a give n'go. The team looks like they are not having any fun, which is something they should be having. There is a lack of onfield leadership. Jaime leads by example, Ben leads by voice and example. We are missing the on field vocal leadership. Someone needs to step it up. Otherwise this is going be a long season for the team and its fans.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 9, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I agree with you Josh... also they should bring back Eskandarian... we need a finisher that can score with either foot..

Posted by: Go DC!! | May 9, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

TO me it falls all on the coach yeah yeah he won a supporters shield in his 1st year but he had a great team just handed to him but then still failed to win the MLS Cup this coach just plain sucks !!!

Posted by: 135 | May 9, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

While I don't think Emilio's form has been the sole cause of this collapse, he has been absolutely terrible. Watching him last night try to run was sad. At the speed he was running you wouldn't be blamed for thinking he was running through a foot of snow or a swamp. Slow as molasses!

Posted by: Nick | May 9, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Well You cant help nor shouldnt help losing players like perkins if you cant pay for them he deserves what he gets and I am happy with wells improvement. But yes the management is to blame that we have talent and no team, we have resumes but no results. I dont know if Emilio is better as the underdog, but the biggest factor lacking is the heart. Last night after the firts goal it look like united wanted to cry and were suprised they were losing. Thats what happens when you give people with drive some room they take the chance not pass it ouside the box for 5 minutes. Last year united would have gotten up and countered, not the stripe less united. The other we need are balls good old fashioned ones, when you have the ball on there side dont be afraid to take to the box and shoot, if the bite who knows the ref might actually call a foul. But united should be ashamed from the owners to the ball girls, no one cares but the fans, maybe we should play instead.

Posted by: Sec 131 | May 9, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

it doesn't look like it's going to get any easier. after may, we will have played all our games against last season's whipping posts, RSL and TFC.

the schedule gets much tougher as the season goes on, not even considering the congestion with the CONCACAF games.

Posted by: pat | May 9, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

If dc united got to where it got last year is because of peter novak, not because of Soehn. He inherited a great team !!! the only logic answer is to have Mr. Soehn stand aside and move on with a new coach

Posted by: fired the coach | May 9, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

All of the above.

The only good move this off-season was picking up Martinez.

The rest of the turnover was just for the sake of turnover. No improvements. The only potential improvement will be Gallardo once he is acclimated and his teammates learn to play off him.

Posted by: ahelms | May 9, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

The sad thing is that Rafa Benitez gets a lot of grief for essentially ignoring (or failing) the Premier League and building his reputation on a string of 16 matches each year (Champion's League). His critics blast him for trying wring a career out of 16 matches a season.

Why do I mention that? For comparison Soehn only has to coach his team through FOUR games to get a crack at some silverware (Champion's Cup Final) and couldn't even get a sniff of that one.

It is one thing to lose playing well. It is another to play like the primary school reserves from Little Sisters of the Poor Catholic School.

Performance vs results. Performance is the better gauge, but unfortunately United has offered neither.

Can MLS side dump players mid-year? I wonder if the hocus pocus with MLS-owned contracts makes players less mobile than elsewhere. I know the transfer window is not yet open, but players in europe are already signing contracts for next year (typically player who are to be out of contract in a few weeks).

Posted by: Erick | May 9, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

All of the above, including the comments. I hate to say I told ya so, but I said it was a mistake to lose Gomito. The motley crew brought in: a second choice DP and an almost perennial underachiever, a midget, an over-the-hill and much traveled defender, a second-division and not especially gifted defender and our second choice at goalie (remember Cannon?) -- it would have been miraculous if the FO found gold in this bunch.

Circumstances have hurt, though -- having Olsen out is devastating. Yes, it takes out the heart and soul, but more than that: without him and Gomez, there is no one left to force the play and create chances.

That said, Soehn doesn't seem to be making the best use of what he's got. I don't know if he's stuck in a certain mindset, or over-thinking it -- but it ain't working.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | May 9, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I would like to see someone held responsible for the decision to trade Gomez. Apparently, he didn't fit into our plans for last place.

Posted by: 136 | May 9, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

It's the front office. This team is entirely different from last year. How many players are in the same starting roles? 2? 3?

And half speak spanish and half speak english. That's got to affect team cohesion at some point. Maybe not, but something is severely damaging this teams cohesion.

Soehn just doesn't have the players at his disposal.

Posted by: Brendan | May 9, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

For arguments sake, last year's Supports' Shield winning team was inherited by Soehn from Nowak. Nothing against Soehn's accomplishments last season, but this is the first team that reflects his perspective.

Coincidentally, Chivas is suffering the same effects this season (Preki enjoyed taking the Goats to the Western Conference heights upon inheriting Bob Bradley's squad and now struggles to find the same form under his sole guidance).

Posted by: Mickey | May 9, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Steve,

Take a look at United's Big Soccer Post Match analysis - Its all there.

Posted by: Nick | May 9, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

For arguments sake, last year's Supports' Shield winning team was inherited by Soehn from Nowak. Nothing against Soehn's accomplishments last season, but this is the first team that reflects his perspective.

Coincidentally, Chivas is suffering the same effects this season (Preki enjoyed taking the Goats to the Western Conference heights upon inheriting Bob Bradley's squad and now struggles to find the same form under his sole guidance).

Posted by: Mickey | May 9, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I think the front office has to share in this mess. However, they have a LONG record of success at what they do. I look at the coach and I don't see the same thing. Ok your players are not playing with passion, why not make some changes? If Emilio can't score, why keep in the game for so long? If Niell is shorter than high school students, why play him (for so long) against much taller defenders? If Martinez keeps shoulder checking people like this is the NHL, why not bench him? Why wait until he does it in the 18-yard box and gets a penalty?

Soehn had success last year partly because he had what was, at its core, Peter Novak's team. Say what you will about Peter, but he ALWAYS had his players ready to play.

Posted by: Bart | May 9, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

As many have said I will say the problem is with Soehn because at the end of the day he's responsible. Wells doesn't communicate with his back line. There's no leader in the midfield-all due to the loss of Olsen-but Gallardo or Simms or even Moreno should have stepped up as the vocal and emotional team leader. The change to a 3-5-2 is just stupid.
Get the team to talk and play with some heart -other than Fred, Martinez and at times Moreno. Can Olsen coach?

Posted by: Julius | May 9, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I think you guys are a little harsh on Niel, I think the service to him has been poor. It's either coaching or players not being alert, but playing a cross in the air or a 50/50 air ball is not how you get him the ball. Play it to his feet or into space.

But I think Emilios loss of form is the biggest problem in all of this. If he scores 1/2 the goals he is set up to its a whole different game and mindset.

perhaps his season last year just masked a few of the issues that existed and are coming out today

Posted by: EDB | May 9, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

We were in the same place at this time last year?. Gillardo will be awesome, Emillio will wake up and Fred will help. If Niel were 5 foot 8 he would have had a hat trick on Thursday...play it to his feet dammit. Kasey Keller in goal would help...How about Olie Kolzig? We have the tools, I the goals will come but we need to wake up soon!!!

Posted by: Harpo | May 9, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I love how Kevin Payne blames the players in your story today, but as usual, takes no responsibility himself.

We traded Gomez to make room for a player at 5X his salary, who delivers about half as much game.

We brought in a dwarf who has no place in MLS, let alone the model franchise of the league.

We rely on aging South Americans who are far past their prime (it's Etch's embarassing slide all over again. Maybe these guys would retire sooner if management put some pressure on them to do so).

We fail in international play, domestic play and against some of the worst teams in the league.

We were promised a stadium to open in 2007 at one point by Mr. Payne. Now he's saying "maybe by 2012."

I've had enough. The question is, when will Mr. MacFarlane see where the responsibilities lie?

Posted by: David | May 9, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I don't want to talk about it. I plan to go to the WNT game to see my team win - for a change.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | May 9, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

The problem with firing Soehn is who do you bring in that can salvage this season?

Also, am sorry but the guy that gave the approval to sign Niell ought to be fired. It's one thing to be short and stocky (like Maradona was/is) but it's another to just look like a little kid amongst men. Watching Neill run around RFK yesterday just makes a mockery of MLS. I bet some of the ball boys were bigger than him. And yet our midfielders keep trying to feed him high balls. What a joke!

Posted by: Bart | May 9, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Aside from the Wins and Losses, this team has no character. I miss Olsen and Gros. And Perkins and Boswell.

I hate to say it, but this team is a bore. It's early, though, so everything may change in a month or two. Let's hope so....

Posted by: jj | May 9, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

All I saw was no good passing. No give-n-go. Everytime our guys had the ball, there were two Chicago defenders on them. Our guys didn't have the room and didn't make the room. They also DIDN'T SHOOT. Bench Emilio, maybe that will light a fire under him.

Posted by: Himes | May 9, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I'll play the (slight) optimist, top reasons...

1. CIRCUMSTANCES
2. THE PLAYERS
3t. THE COACH/THE FRONT OFFICE

Posted by: Kev | May 9, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I agree... the mistake was Gallardo for Gomez. It might be a little too early to make that call, but i'm making it. Why get rid of a MLS proven guy and pay that much more for someone who (while his pedigree is great) is unproven in MLS. Not all great foreign players have adjusted to MLS very well.
Last night it surely also hurt to have Gros, Olsen, Fred, Gallardo gone as well. Our bench also became pretty weak when some of our subs were injured too.

Posted by: jake | May 9, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I looked at both teams warming up before the game. To me it looked like DC players were all over their half doing their own thing - passing, streching, kicking, whatever fancied them.

Chicago was the opposite - the starting lineup worked together methodically and ended on a fast, tight scrimmage. Blanco was in there working as hard as a first year rookie.

Is this indicative of something? Maybe not, but I did find it interesting... and it made me worry.

Posted by: ML | May 9, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I blame FIFA.

If they had never let the US host WC94, then we never would have had MLS, and United would not be in this fine mess.

If there's something wrong in football, and blame needs to be assigned. FIFA is always the answer to the blame game.

Thanks a lot, FIFA.

Posted by: I hate the Swiss | May 9, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

We need to scrap the 3-5-2

Posted by: G | May 9, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

4-4-2.

Posted by: Soy United! | May 9, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

A 5-5-3 might help United.

Posted by: More is better | May 9, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I thought it was amusing that Niell's "player escort" was almost as tall as him. And those kids are what, 7 or 8 at the oldest? I am waiting for the day they assign him an "escort" who is bigger than he is.

Posted by: Glenn | May 9, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

If DCU regains some form and comes back to squeak into the playoffs, I actually like their chances for an MLS cup better. (sniffing glue? no paint thinnner but hear me out) There is a lot to be gained psychologically from being the underdog. The season ain't over yet but its gut check time.

Posted by: -K | May 9, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Emilio didn't get a big enough raise yesterday afternoon, that's the problem.

Posted by: gringo | May 9, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you Josh... also they should bring back Eskandarian... we need a finisher that can score with either foot..

Posted by: Go DC!! | May 9, 2008 11:52 AM

------------

Go DC, are you SERIOUS?

Do you REALLY think that the lack of a small, oft-injured, all left foot, and slow forward is the answer?

Do you REALLY think that a guy who has scored all of THREE GOALS from 2007 until today [according to wiki] is going to help?

Do you REALLY think that a guy who's been dropped by both Toronto AND Real FC would make DCU better?

Are you REALLY that amped up to drop $130K of salary cap space on the same guy that I just described???


Eskandarian should be happy to still have a job in MLS, given his current cost-benefit ratio. Perhaps he's a fan favorite in DC, but he is simply not a very good soccer player anymore, particularly at his obese salary number.

Honestly, as a FIRE fan, I think your team is extremely talented. They don't give out championships in May. DCU will be fine this year. With a club full of new players learning how to play together, and all the injuries, DCU should have a better second half of this season than 1st half. Be patient.


For my part, the FIRE will be happy to see you guys in the playoffs. ;-)

Posted by: khan | May 9, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

making fun of niell wont get us anywhere, this is some serious sh*t we are dealing here, I wonder if DC's front office reads this blog and can see our fustration

Posted by: Anonymous | May 9, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I would change the starting lineup completely to the following:

Fowards: Doe, Kirk
Mids: Fred, Gallardo, J. Carrol, Stratford
Defense: Martinez, Peralta, P Carrol, Zaher
GoalKeeper: Carvallo

Subs: Emilio, Wells, McTavish, Quaranta, Dyachenko, Curtin, and Cordeiro

Posted by: Devil's Advocate | May 9, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

reserve game more of the same: 2-0 Chicago.

Lots of poor defending, no movement, poor passing, tactical awareness lacking --- on the positive sign, demonstrates consistency with the reserve and first team.


wet

Posted by: JSF | May 9, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Not so United now are you? The FO blames the coach and players...the coach and players blame the schedule and league, sounds like the ship is sinking quickly.

The sooner they realize they need to stop putting blame on eachother, sack up and work hard the sooner things will turn around, then again they may not get better at all if it just continues.

Posted by: KP | May 9, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I'd have to blame Dave Kasper, Kevin Payne and Canada. They built it, We bought it, now time to sell it.

Posted by: Ike | May 9, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Players, 55% - these are grown men, professionals [hesitates to use that word] even who need to show some rocks and grit and gut and hunger when the chips are down. Thie lack of heart is sickening, which cannot be excused by the absence of Ben - if that's the case then these jerks are not worth having.

TS, 30% - Top coaches know how to deflect attention from their struggling sides. Better yet, they also know how to handle egos and bench those who need to be benched and not even dress those who are not wothy.

FO, 10% - They brought in talent (AND YES GALLARDO IS BETTER THAN GOMEZ) and added more than they subtracted. While judging talent sometimes comes down to guessing and dumb luck, you have to question some of the moves like burning draft picks, Niell and Dyachenko. Seriously, if Niell was in the draft would he have been pick worthy? Is Dyachenko worth burning a pick over? Did we let Aguez and Jocobs go too easily? Still not enough for me to want their heads.

Injuries, 3% - Nicol is ravaged by the hurt, but they still have more points than us.

Schedule, 2% - It should be more than this, BUT that would be justifying the crap that the players and TS are serving right now - and I'm not in the mood.

Posted by: Kosh | May 9, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

What's wrong? All of the above. The whole package right now is one giant box of suck. McFarlane needs to go postal a la Steinbrenner on the whole lot of them - players, FO and the baboon Soehn. This is an expensive (by MLS standards), veteran laden team, with a tradition to uphold that it is instead disgracing at present. Easiest thing to change is the coach and that should be done within the next 2 weeks if the run of form doesn't change. Players you are largely stuck with, so a new coach is needed to motivate them. As for the FO, Vic needs to call them on the carpet for one of those "private meetings."

Posted by: The Boss | May 9, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Starts and ends with Payne -

Posted by: Payne | May 9, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Since it's VW week, perhaps VW should get some of the blame.

Posted by: I ride a bike anyway | May 9, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I blame the fair weathered fans who lack the fortitude to stick by their team with the slightest adversity. Aspiring to be compared to the front-running lacky dogs of America - the fickled NY fans - the DC fans are hacking at the team, coaching staff and front office.

The correct answer is that the fans should be patient. This team has the components to make a run at the MLS cup. Patience. If the ownership/executives panic, DCU will be condemned to a Redskins/Orioles existence - always under-achieving.

Make rational changes that will help in the short run - not the radical types that will be a further set-back, but will appease the chicken littles...

Posted by: Tom's Wife | May 9, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

The team didn't get rid of Gomez, they met his price. He wanted three guaranteed years, they failed to reach an agreement. People need to come to grips with this and quit bashing the FO.

Posted by: VoiceOfReason | May 9, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

First, there's no pride or passion in this team. While the players should be professional enough to light their own fire, the coach is responsible for making sure the fire is lit and stays lit. If he sees a guy without the pride or fire, it's his job to sit him. Remember last year? Remember Emilio being pulled during the second half of a game in the middle of his slump and crying so hard that many people thought he was injured? Remember Benny coming on in the second half of the Revs game and lighting a spark that led to 2 goals almost immediately? I just don't see that pride anymore. I seriously doubt Emilio would act in a similar fashion if he was subbed in a tight game now. I look down the bench and can't see a guy who could come on and instantly spark 2 goals.

As much as the spark is missing, so is the confidence. Guys looked almost scared to pull the trigger last night. A guy shouldn't have to think when the ball lands at his feet 2 yards from the box. He should know what he's going to do before the ball gets there.

As far as Wells, I've seen him making the same mistakes over and over again. Sometimes he gets punished for it, sometimes he doesn't, but he insists on cheating off his line when the ball is on the far side of the pitch.

All of these things are correctable with coaching. I like Tommy. I do. But if mistakes aren't corrected, passion isn't instilled then that's on the coach. Yes, we started in a slump last year, but the team looked gamely even in losses and Tommy played around with the lineup until he got something that worked. Remember Tommy sitting Bobby and saying that guys needed to produce or they would sit? I don't see that this year. I haven't seen alot of playing around with the lineup and I've seen the same mistakes over and over.

Posted by: Sorry Tommy | May 9, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

It's Bobby Boswells fault. He needs to stop blogging and start producing.

Posted by: Rick in Ashburn | May 9, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

The roster is, on paper, more talented than last year. What I see is a lack of discipline and unity. When the players tell the ESPN crew that "everyone has to play together" it tells me two things; one TS has lost the players and simply must be replaced, and second that some players (you know who you are) are dogging it and taking stretches of the game off. Anyone who thinks Bennie would allow that to happen on the pitch is kidding themselves. What we need are leaders, one on the sideline and one on the pitch.

Posted by: blg | May 9, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I think Front Office got greedy. The players need to become acquainted with one another. Give Wells a break. If we were scoring, lapses of fullback's would not be noticed.

We attack as a team, defend as a team, and have new players' who have not been steeped in our history.

Wells will be better than Perkins. I remenber Troy as a rookie. I also remember when we wanted to get the job done in 2004 that he was benched and Nick was put back in and got it done. If you remember the past two seasons Perkins did not do well pre and post season.

They need to divide the guys up by lines and talk to them about what is to be achieved and let strangers get to know one another.

You notice last year, Luciano and Fred, hit the ground running and none of this crap.

It seems like when we have a turnover on the team it is always the highest paid guy that they think is expendible. Unfortunately, they didn't know Perkins was going to Norway this year. We got way too many new guys. Franco Niell, for his size, has the heart of a giant. He never gives up. Did Santino just play a few token games to make us believe he was going to do what he should have done before he was traded? I think our trouble began when Brian Carroll was left in the draft. I saw Rongen run him down the wing before Peter put him in center. He is all the difference for Columbus, who did not have a stopgap between front and back lines. Bryan Namoff is a saint as far as I am concerned. He never stops unless he gets injured.

If you think about Houston's back line, until Cochran went to San Jose, the goalie is always covered. It is a new experience for the goalie too, to be hung out to dry.

Posted by: It's Only My Opinion | May 9, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to give most of the blame to Zach Wells and the goalkeeper coach. If I can see what is going on with communication and position, or lack thereof, (see my posts in many other columns and you can visit my blog when I have it acceptable) then they should see it to! When goals are let in, it demoralizes a team. When stupid, boneheaded plays are made by the goalie, that lead to a goal or not, it makes it even worse. No one will play well if he continues this way. Give Carvallo another chance. I think that the surface he played on in Salt Lake was horrible and that contributed to his bad performance.

Also, no one has really discussed that we are an old, slow team. I love Jaime, but he is slow. As is Lucie for that matter! We need Niell and Doe up front to spread the ball and be creative. Play the ball to their feet and not their heads and I bet that you will have results!

Posted by: Q | May 9, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

There is good news ahead. Really.

The next four home games: Toronto - the one team we can be sure is worse; Houston -- they haven't won ANY games yet -- how stupid the Dynamo's coach and FO must be; New York -- if we lose to the Red Bulls, we've really turned into a lousy team; and San Jose -- an expansion team that has less offense than we do.

So, we ought to be feeling a little better about our squad, after that stretch..at least until Donovan and Becks spank us on a national ABC broadcast.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | May 9, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me, that players are bought more for their marketing potential than for what they might contribute to a team.

It is possible to do both, of course, the player may be a name and he may be adaptable as Blanco is in Chicago. But in DC Gallardo is like a hamster on a wheel: lots of work without anything being accomplished.

The other side is the current selection of the American player contingent. The present crop, with the exception of Namof and one or two others are sub-par.

Not in Chicago. Their Americans are Thorington, Mapp etc who are not marginal but competent guys. DC gives away such players, Prideux, Mapp and others.

The Coach is not up to the job for sure. This team is likely to be bottomfeeders for the remainder of the current season.

Answer?

Fire Soehn, get somebody who can build a team. In the meantime put Benny in charge, he could do a better job.

Posted by: JMS | May 9, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

gomez earned and deserved pay/contract - this is karma.

Posted by: bill | May 9, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

This feels like deja vu all over again (Bless you Yogi).

At what point last season did DCU switch from the 3-5-2 to the 4-4-2? Anybody remember?

Seems to me Burch did a little better playing on the back line at the start of this season, although I wonder if he got sick of having Peralta tell him where to go.

Posted by: Juan-John | May 9, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

We need to bench the argentine frodo and fire who ever wanted to sign him in the first place. Unfortunately Luci is our best forward option even though he looks like he has concrete shoes on. When everyone is healthy I say we come out like this for the next game:

----Luci Doe----
------Quaranta-------
----Burch, Gallardo, Fred----
--------Simms--------
--Martinez or Mctavish, Peralta, Namoff--
------Carvallo------

Unfortunately Olsen is done and we have no depth what so ever. Kirk had a "deer in the headlights" look to him in previous game - he's not ready yet, Dyachenko just needs to be released and Stratford needs to get a look more often.

Posted by: wags | May 9, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

It is difficult to lose Gomez, Gros and Benny and not go backwards. The hardest part is we are less athletic than ever: an aging Moreno, a midget and an overweight striker cannot break down good teams like Chicago. Take away Fred, Gallardo and McTavish and you lose.

The reason TS needs to be shown the door is he has failed to inspire the players to show up. They demonstrate little positive emotion and I caught several times last night them yelling at each other. We are starting to lose discipline as well, such as Namoff and Dyachencko going cleats up at the end of plays.

This year is starting to remind me of Rongen's 2000 campaign. He had a great year in '99, like TS did last year minus the title, and falls apart next year. TS took over a good team from Nowak, but he has lost control of it.

There's still plenty of time to recover. But there needs to be better leadership than we are getting from the bench. Look at what Chicago did last year with their coaches.

Posted by: Friendship Heights | May 9, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I dont think you can blame the coach, yet. It's a long season. But he sure needs to do something to motivate his player - it's as if no one out there really cares (although, I do think that Simms and Namoff are at least contributing). DC's central defense, and overall team defensive effort is a joke.

Is Emilio sick? Not only has he become predictable and slow, but he can't even complete a 10 yard pass to his own team when he's not under pressure. If anyone needs to be benched it's him.

Anyway, they still have time to turn it around. But guys on the field who stink the place up (or loose their markups) need to be benched.

Posted by: Hacksaw | May 9, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

How can a coach trail 1-0 at the half with a team that's playing without passion and not make a sub until the 66th minute, after they had already went down 2-0? More than that, he didn't use the final 2 subs until the 83rd and 92nd minute (due to injury).What kind of message does that send? Is this the same guy who said "no ones' job is safe" last year?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 9, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Dave Lifton | May 9, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Fire the coach before it's too late. Harkes will do-he's a winner, knowledgeable, and can find the heart missing in this team.

Posted by: Glazed | May 9, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Repeat: They didn't "get rid" of Gomez. He got rid of himself.

Posted by: Sharp | May 9, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Emilio most worthless? Yes, he is off to a very slow start but he was much better than Quaranta and Dyachenko...neither of which deserves a starting role.
Burch is also very questionable. Namoff was less than impressive, as he aimlessly distributed the ball. Sims has no idea how to play d-mid, he didn't play the position until United were one goal down...perhaps, Soehn is to blame for most of this.

Posted by: nico | May 9, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Repeat: They didn't "get rid" of Gomez. He got rid of himself.

Posted by: Sharp | May 9, 2008 1:35 PM

Well. That's not really accurate. Gomez asked for three years. The team decided they weren't willing to give it to him. So you could just as accurately say the team got rid of him as much as he got rid of himself.

There was a deal to be made. The team decided it wasn't worth it...


Posted by: QuietSide | May 9, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I blame Adrian Fenty. Either him or Peter Angelos.

Posted by: Chief Clancy Wiggum | May 9, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I said it a couple of days ago. Any MLS team that gets hit with injuries is dead in the H2O. No team has enough depth to compensate and with the salary cap they never will. The loss of Gomez was critical as he served as an additional striker on occasion, a position that Gallardo cannot play (Gallardo has lots of talent but must be used differently). Third point (related to the first two) is that the midfield is where the problems are. Fred is the only one with pace and we don't create enough space for passing between the back line and the front.

Final point, we can bring in Morinho and Rijkaard (both out of jobs and both top flight managers) and the results would be the same as they are now.

Posted by: Orange14 | May 9, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

All of the above. It's Murphy's Law. Anything that can go wrong, will.

Posted by: Andy | May 9, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Don't you see???...We've got a curse settling down upon us. We let Gomez slip away, and, bam!, we lose Benny, the heart and soul of the team and are forced to wander in the wilderness until we repent. We sacrifice Brian Carroll to the draft and, bam!, none of our front line can ever approach 6 feet again. We let Perkins indulge his Euro-phile tendencies (in Norway?!) and, bam!, we can't get a keeper to say on his line.

We need to burn some serious incense in all the corners of RFK, asap.

And, while we're at it: Fire the coach.

Posted by: DC Arlington | May 9, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Maybe you could score if you went with an old school formation (as in, beginning of the last century) and played a 2-1-7

Posted by: CACuzcatlan | May 9, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"Luciano Emilio has gone from MVP (most valuable player) to MWP (most worthless player)."

Worthless? Worthless? Really Goff? This was probably the silliest thing ever written on Soccer Insider. It is unfair and unwarranted.

Goff, you can do better than this.

Posted by: Goff Wrong Again | May 9, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I like that idea. Let's bring in Rikjaard.

Why is that a good idea? Because we can get rid of Emilio and bring in a quality player -- someone who will see Rijkaard and say "that's for me!"

As for Gomez, there is wicked revisionist history here. Gomez rejected United's last-minute offers because he felt wounded -- by United's earlier tepid pursuit of him. Don't absolve the FO of blame here.

Bring in Rikjaard. With the soft schedule coming up, we can build some confidence and results -- and then bring in a good striker. I'm sure Sheva would be delighted to play for him...

Posted by: Fisch Fry | May 9, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

The season's young, but I was disgusted when they traded Christian Gomez in order to replace him with the high-priced Gallardo. I figured it would destroy the offensive chemistry established among Gomez, Moreno, Fred and Emilio. Looks like I was right.

Posted by: Art Amolsch | May 9, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

DCU can play well and we all saw their potential against Pachuca @ RFK (2-1).

Sadly, that has been the best they have played this year.

What's wrong?
No Heart, No Passion, No Vision, Too many touches, too slow, over thinking, and corner kicks. Play simple! There is no need to make the "perfect pass" but take Pride in your passes... Hell thats a lesson from my high school coach, and he's 100% correct. There was no Pride on the field, it was all in the stands (Barra, Eagles, Norte) even that VW Bug showed more Pride and Heart for the crest on the front of the jersey.

stop talking about being counted and DO IT!
We as Passionate Fans have showed up to support our club.

So where the F--k is DC United!!!

I'll keep supporting my club, but DCU must play United football and not this "lame duck soccer" they keep putting on the field.

Posted by: Cashous | May 9, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

It all starts with Freddy Adu.

(sorry kittens)

Posted by: TomM | May 9, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

1. Loss of Olsen
2. Craptastic play of Emilio
3. Loss of Gros
4. Poor GK
5. Lack of another forward option (Niell not worth the money)
6. Lack of team speed.
7. No depth, poor drafting
8. Need more from Soehn, team thinks too highly of itself
9. MacTavish and Burch coming down to earth
10. Simms not as good as Carroll (but more economical)

Posted by: Free DC | May 9, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I would send a message by benching the following players in the next game:

Luci
Tino

period. It can't get any worse. Send a message and hope your youth guys get it going. Oh and please don't start Rod, sigh...

Posted by: dclover | May 9, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I'll play the (slight) optimist, top reasons...
1. CIRCUMSTANCES
2. THE PLAYERS
3t. THE COACH/THE FRONT OFFICE
Posted by: Kev | May 9, 2008 12:21 PM
===========
Respectfully, I will reverse this completely.
1. the coach/the front office
2. the players
3. circumstances

Our coach doesn't speak or is telling too much on the training and confused the players? Our goal keeper is speechless.

Posted by: td | May 9, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Quote; "There is good news ahead. Really.

The next four home games: Toronto - the one team we can be sure is worse;"

Uh, we haven't lost in four, we've beaten KC, tied New york and beaten the same RSL that whupped DC.

We also have an almost entirely different gameday lineup from the first game against DC. But hey, maybe your players will come into the zoo that is BMO thinking it'll be a walk, too. Not that it would matter; Guevara, Robert and Ricketts have more class than anything DC can offer.

Posted by: Jeremy | May 9, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Freddy Adu -- if Sven-Goran Eriksson returns as coach there, will this be a good development for Freddy, or a bad one?

Posted by: Fisch Fry | May 9, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Whoa there, Jeremy. I was just talking smack. All in good fun.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | May 9, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Is there a slower player than Emilio?

Oh, and Sven would be good for Freddy.

Posted by: Chimaera | May 9, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Everyone shares in the blame here.

I want to see the FO get some youth and speed into this lineup, not aging, slow injury prone people in the twilight of their careers. I want to see a talented young American draft pick. It will be much easier swallowing a crappy losing season if we can really develop some young players for next season.

TS needs to motivate these guys and move them around. Maybe moving Niell back to a winger position and have him push the ball up rather than be a target forward would be a good switch. Maybe moving Burch back for long ball service from the back might work. Determine which of the new guys can play up top with Emilo and be there for speed. Emilio's conditioning needs a lot of work...he should be able to burst forward on a thru ball and beat his man. This coaching staff needs to solve communications issues immediately and get people working as a team. DCU needs to abandon the longball service as it is not working.

The players need to get a killer instinct and start shooting. It was good seeing Clyde take a few shots from outside in the last game...so few people are shooting, they are just pushing the ball around and back over and over.

The only people not to blame are the fans. It was something seeing 19K turnout on a Thurs in the rain and remain standing and cheering in spite of the horrible team performance. So far this team is not worthy of that support.

Posted by: Wiggan | May 9, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Fisch Fry's observation that we aren't forcing the game as much without Olsen and Gomez is very astute. This has been an attacking, direct team since Hudson left, but this season we are ponderous and seemingly content with simply outpossessing our opponents. Both last night and the game against Columbus looked like we misunderstood and thought that we would win by simply having the ball more. It's not a keep-away drill. Right now, we have plenty of possession but create almost no danger with it. Last night, our 2 best shots aside from Moreno's header off the bar were by Clyde Simms. With all due respect to Simms, that should never be the case.

Bart:

Nowak always had us ready to play? Really? Remind me, how did we finish the '05 and '06 seasons?

Orange14:

Blaming injuries isn't going to fly. The Revs have had more injuries than us and are doing just fine.

***

Basically, my take is mostly found agreeing with Fisch Fry. Look at the difference between us and Chicago last night: we had all of the possession, but their attacks were more incisive, more direct, and more dangerous.

There are other problems, but my main worry is that teams have figured out what to do against us. All of our losses have come against teams that concede that we will outpossess them, and instead focus on making sure we can't move the ball quickly (which we have made a very easy task). They play 4 in the back and stay conservative, and 2 defensive midfielders ahead of them to clog up the middle. They know we will hand them enough chances to grab a goal, and they also know we are terrible at chasing a game. Our two wins are over RSL (who were actually edging the game until we got the first penalty) and Toronto (who for that game left Robinson alone to defend the backline, with Edu playing on the right).

The problems are all over, but the lack of urgency to score is the most troubling. How can you not be dying to score? Our style of play, as unsettling as it is to say, is strongly resembling the Ray Hudson-era United (minus the goonery). As bad as those times were, we routinely had more of the ball than our opponents.

I'm going to cut the "problems" section of my response short because this is turning into a dissertation.

Possible solutions:

- More speed up front. Gallardo's style of play seems to be better suited for having someone with speed to play in with an early ball. Emilio and Moreno are not fast. Doe is, but he hasn't done anything notable as a sub yet. My idea would be trying Fred up top. He's not a track star, but he's faster than virtually any center back in MLS and he also plays more directly.
- Return to 442. Our midfield doesn't have the defensive qualities on the wings to play with 3 in the back. Olsen and Gros could do this, but asking Quaranta to defend is like asking Brandon Prideaux to score goals. He'll try, sure, but that doesn't do the job.
- Niell and Dyachenko to the bench. Niell's style of play may work in Argentina, where physicality is a less prominent virtue. In MLS, however, you must be able to deal with repeated collisions and tons of physical contact. He can't. Dyachenko, meanwhile, has not improved since his rookie season and should have received 3 yellow cards last night. His tackling is going to get us in trouble, and his play on the ball is nowhere near consistent enough.
- Improved defensive communication. I don't know how you improve this beyond normal routines at practice. Maybe they should have Wells and the back line go on a comical road trip where they learn the true value of friendship. You can see that Martinez is rapidly running out of patience with Peralta and Wells (even though on one argument in the 2nd half last night, Martinez was clearly the one at fault). Normally I think overly demonstrative keepers are just being dramatic, but maybe Wells could use a little bit of that.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 9, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Jeremy thanks for playing, but until TFC actually wins something, it's time to STFU.

TFC is the remedy for a long losing streak.

A-M-A-D-O
A-M-A-D-O
A-M-A-D-O
Amado is a .......

Posted by: TFC still sucks | May 9, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Apart from the last comment at 2:52, the best post in this thread has been by a Chicago fan. Says it all, really.

Posted by: Grunthos | May 9, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Ok Jay, obviously Niell is Tattoo, but which player is Admiral Akbar?

And Fisch Fry, I really wouldn't be too confident that we're better than Toronto right now, at least not at BMO. Sure, we may have pasted them 4-1 at RFK, but they're currently undefeated at home which is certainly more than you can say for us.

I guess with the quirky scheduling of facing them away and home in the same week, we'll get to see a pretty good test of how much difference home field advantage makes.

Posted by: Ricky B | May 9, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I agree about Soehn inheriting Nowak's team. With that said something big will have to happen to turn this team into a winning team. At this point the current lack of form is becoming highly infectious. Developmental players don't belong on the first team squad. First team players don't belong on the reserve squad. How much longer will this funk last? This season I have been the most disinterested in MLS. The way the league is being run is making a mockery of the sport. From the salary cap to the crowded schedule for teams competing internationally. The lack of SSS stadiums or at least rectangular stadiums. Owners willing dump money into their team to make them successful on an international level can't. The list goes on an on an on...

Posted by: peridigm | May 9, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Jeremy thanks for playing, but until TFC actually wins something, it's time to STFU.

TFC is the remedy for a long losing streak.

A-M-A-D-O
A-M-A-D-O
A-M-A-D-O
Amado is a .......

Better than anybody playing for DC right now. ANd get your head out of your ass, we've won three of the last four. Oh, you mean titles? Judging by how DC is playing, it'll be before you guys.

Posted by: Jeremy | May 9, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Normally, I would advise supporters to settle down a bit as this is the MLS and usually a team can have a horrendously terrible start and still be one of the 8 teams in a league of 14 to make the playoffs. And the new the playoff rules allow for up to five teams from one conference to be in the playoffs.

However, the East looks very, very strong, in comparison to the incredibly weak West. DCU have an uphill battle to displace at least two of these teams in front of them for a playoff spot:

Fire: look like a playoff lock early
Crew: very strong start, will it continue?
TFC: much improved and have an incredible home field advantage
Revs: have played solidly with a boatload of injuries
KC: a lot of talent, though on a bad run of form
NYRB: have two games in hand and really haven't played their best yet.

All that said, their are 23 games left and a lot can happen in that period of time...

Posted by: Chase | May 9, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

It is simply the front office. Forget the SS last two years. This team stunk last year too, and it was all because of Soehn. The front office needs to go. They kept Soehn when he should have been fired last year for pathetic/psychotic substitutions. Now they give a worthless troll the DP slot, bring another worthless dinosaur in as the $1.9 million DP, get rid of Gomez and Eskandarian, and fail to grab one of the best goal keepers in MLS history (Joe Cannon) as he is floated around the league. This front office has been asleep at the switch since 1999. Germans: show them the door please!! Our front office is now and has been much more the laughing stock of the league than any other....to include the Metrostars. Let the season ticket burning begin!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 9, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I would have to say that although the players have to shoulder most of the blame for not trying hard, I'm looking at you Emilo, its alright for Ronaldo to get fat because he is Ronaldo you were just the leading scorer in the MLS.

But the blame ultimately has to go to the front office, they over thought it and out smarted themselves, they have wasted 2 DP slots and have not had a good draft pick in years.

Also Soehn is another Nowak who is unable to relate to the younger developing players, at least Nowak could get the old ones to play hard.

United needs a world class coach, 2 respectable DP's and Manute Bol in goal and they would be fine.

Posted by: Patrick | May 9, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I don't like the tactics I'm seeing and to me that's the coach. I'm not calling for Soehn's firing yet, I think he should have a chance to correct the ship, but to me when nothing is working the common factor is the coach.

Posted by: DCU-ATL | May 9, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Everyone should take a chill pill. Relax, there is no relegation. What's the worst we could do, lose some more games but still make the playoffs and win the MLS Cup, and
qualify for CONCACAF Champions league. We should be playing well by time Superliga comes around, and make the playoffs. Who cares about MLS Cup, we've won that few times already.

Posted by: la_chingada | May 9, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

predictions on weeks until TS is sacked? I give him 3.5 more games.

Posted by: dt | May 9, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I just thought it was poetic justice to lose to Colorado on a goal by Erpen and a sweet assist by Gomez. I liked both of them last year.

ErpFu did a flying headbutt to our face.

Posted by: David | May 9, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I trust results. There are a lot of people here that have proven themselves and deserve our patience.

This braintrust has brought us more than we had any right to expect 12 years ago. And they have largely managed to fix their problems in the past.

Emilio is a proven commodity. Not every one of his seasons was stellar. but he can be so again.

Moreno took this team on his back yesterday (I disagree with the 4 rating, Goff) and did his damnedest to get us out of our funk.

In this vein we perhaps ought to have kept Gomez.

Still, there will be bumps in the road. This is a bump on an otherwise impressive trajectory. United is my team and I have no intention of throwing anyone under the bus who wants to be part of that. I think Tino (another underrated player last night) and Moreno are good examples of the good things that United has to offer and has offer and will continue to offer.

If United collectively decides that things need to change (witness KP), that's great, and I trust them to make those changes. But I can be disappointed with results without trashing my team, the entire roster, the coaching staff, and the front office in one breath.

Posted by: viv | May 9, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

For what it's worth, the post at 2:52 was me. I just forgot to sign it.

Chase makes a good point about the East being strong. Looking at the current standings isn't that alarming until you realize that we have 3 of 4 on the road. Chivas is at least also struggling, but Toronto is playing really well right now and New England is doing alright despite injuries to 2 of their 4 best players. If the results don't improve for those 4 games, we could find ourselves with too much ground to pick up by the end of May. Losses to Toronto and at New England could see us 10 points back of TFC and 7 points behind the Revs (and that's assuming we do something right at Chivas). Make no mistake: these are absolutely critical games coming up.

Posted by: Chest Rockwell | May 9, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of the FO, makes one wonder whether KP's anger was simply due to the fact that DCU didn't manage to score a single goal, therefore triggering the giant jersey unfurled in the supporters section with the big, honking VW logo on it that ESPN woulda probably shown right then and there, as well as in its SportsCenter highlights later on that night...?

Posted by: Juan-John | May 9, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

in my opinion we need to be in great fitness because the team doesn't play faster(run), keeping possession, doing great passes, shots. Our forwards are not fast not scoring and not finishing. Luciano Emilio has disappointed me so far i think we should sell him during the summer and see if we can still get the Brazilian forward Cesar to replace Emilio and giving Carvallo a second chance and see what he is made of. Tom Soehn in my opinion is not the same as last season I think we should consider of getting Peter Nowak back and maybe we can improve. But no matter what we need to do something fast and quick so we can make it to the playoffs and be the 2008 MLS Cup Champs.
VAMOS UNITED!!!! ESTA TEMPORADA TENEMOS QUE SER CAMPIONES!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: jeff | May 9, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

OK, my take.

Moreno is good at holding the ball just outside of the box, and taking PKs. That's all we can count on from him anymore. Is that really worth the big salary? I'm not sure. Note that this is the first time in 13 years I've ever said anything negative whatsoever about Jaime. Also note that he was one of the better players on the field last night. I'm just looking at clearing out some money for the offseason. Yes, that's where I am right now.

Speaking of which, if we cut Niell now do we still have to keep paying him? I like his speed, and I could see where if he and Gallardo developed some sort of magic chemistry that he could be at least a threat to score. Right now though, he's too short for the long balls we keep sending his way, and he falls down with a frequency I've not seen since Jason Moore.

Quaranta's weakness was always on the defensive side of the ball. That's fine, when we get rid of Niell we can certainly use a $35K backup forward who actually CAN score. His offense and his heart are worth keeping. He is not, however, a wing player.

Speaking of which, I heard all this talk about how DC had improved the spine of the team, and how much the experts liked the moves. What about the width? Olsen's injury has made it painfully clear how weak and thin we are on the outsides. If we have any illusions about playing a 3-5-2, they should only appear once we actually have at least two wing players. Burch is not Josh Gros. We can't just plug him in anywhere and expect him to fill the gaps. He is a Left Back only, though a decent one with a good attitude.

I think we all, management and fans alike, were spoiled by Ben Olsen. We knew he was special, that he had some intrinsic value beyond his accomplishments on the field. That he would someday be out of the lineup was inconceivable. He is now. He may not return. Now we have no width. We stand around just outside of the box and make the same runs over and over again, hoping to crack a packed defense. Not working.

I'm not going to tackle the defense right now. That's a whole other ball of wax. Very true that we need to improve there, but it's not like we're hemmoraging goals. I don't want to give up two a game either, but the bigger problem is our own lack of scoring. One thing at a time people.

Emilio, it's like you sold your soul to the devil last season and he's collecting this year. What happened man? Come back to us. Tell Vincent and Jules to get that briefcase over to RFK, and fast. To hell with Marsellus Wallace.

We need two wingers, one for either side. We need the ability to cross the ball. Until we have these positions filled, we will continue to be painfully predictable.

The summer window approaches, and I fully expect Kevin Payne to get after it. In the words of MAJOR Payne, "Boy, I am two seconds from being on you like white on rice in a glass of milk on a paper plate in a snowstorm. I'm gonna put my foot so far up your ass, the water on my knee will quench your thirst."

Now I'm off to find something completely divorced from soccer to laugh at.

Posted by: spectre | May 9, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

jumping in later...Eriksson would be good for Adu, I imagine. He brought Rui Costa along last time Eriksson coached Benfica. and now Costa will be sporting director.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 9, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Niell's on a one-year loan from his club in Argentina. Anybody know the FIFA rules for being able to say "We don't wanna loan him anymore, please take him back?"

Posted by: Juan-John | May 9, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Manute Bol is no spring chicken, at 46 -- but, he is available...

Posted by: Anonymous | May 9, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

This the best blog in the world?

What sums it all up for me is when my mom, who knows nothing about DC United, asked me who are DC United's good players, and I couldn't answer.

I think this teams needs three things:
1. To get healthy
2. Time to be United
3. And to bench some players for poor performance.

As for Soehn, I'd give him a set date. He's got until June 30 to turn the team around. If it doesn't happen, then send him on his way and hire Marco.

Posted by: TCompton | May 9, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

1. Why dismantle the supporters' shield winning team? Instead, should have made a deal with Gomez (yes, Gallardo is better, but Gomez is great in MLS, and wasn't a weakness). Instead, spend money/slots on defenders, and a first-rate goalkeeper. Who ain't Zach Wells.

2. Loss of grit and intensity, when Gros, Carroll, Olsen, and Gomez are gone. "Chemistry? Yeah, chemistry."

3. Coach's fault? Don't now much say Soehn had over these personnel moves. The more he is responsible for them, the shorter his time to turn the team around should be. In any case, if he can't make this squad work out, he has to go.

Posted by: macheath | May 9, 2008 6:31 PM | Report abuse

THE COACH?
Tom Soehn led the club to the Supporters' Shield in his first season as head coach..
_________________________________________
DONT FORGET THAT SORRY-EHN TOOK OVER PETER'S TEAM ANY ONE COULD HAVE HANDLED THAT SPECIFIC SQUAD! THIS CLOWN OF A COACH DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO LEAD! I HAVE SEEN BETTER HEADS ON TOILETS! AND I SAY CLOWN BECAUSE OF THE CIRCUS HE HAS MANAGED TO PUT TOGETHER!

Posted by: DCU FAN in SOCAL | May 9, 2008 6:41 PM | Report abuse

I blame Soehn as coach for continuing to field Wells in goal anfter continued inability to control his box; playing Dyachenko when every time he plays the ball more often to the other team than our own; for playing Niell when he has Doe who has shown well enough to get a chance; for notschooling Burch and Quaranta on how to take on players 1 v 1 and make a decent cross. Fred should teach them.

Luci didn't suddenly become awful, he has not had service, see above, worth crap to work with.

Our grit guy is MacTavish and he is injured.

All said this was better than the Col match but still not good enough.

Posted by: RRP | May 9, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Much of this hand-wringing is way over the top.

You've got some players who are underachieving. KP did the right thing by ripping them a new one.

Gallardo's an excellent player, but he doesn't just plug into the Gomez role. I'm not blown away by Soehn's tactics.

I think DCU has over-relied on the South American pipeline (as many have pointed out). Those guys should supplement, not replace, a core of homegrown talent. The DC strategy has always depended on a core of guys who play for the badge, giving their all and fitting into a system, and bring in your Morenos and Etcheverrys and Gomezes. Now most of the team are basically mercenaries. It's going to be a challenge to get these guys to cohere without Ben Olsen's personality keeping everyone on their toes.

That said, United are definitely capable of being one of the top four teams in the league. I think they're in, what, 12th overall?

The league is far more competitive this year than it ever has been. Just wearing a DC shirt doesn't automatically bring wins. I didn't expect such a slow start from United, but the expectations expressed by much of Insider Nation before the start of the year were just as unbalanced as the mass freakout is now.

It'll be tough for DCU to qualify for international play in 09 if this keeps up for another month. If DC isn't in a playoff slot by the end of June, Soehn needs to go into Rafa Benitez mode and concentrate on Superliga and the CONCACAF Champions League at the expense of league play. I get the feeling the DC front office bet HEAVILY on international play with those off-season acquisitions. I don't think they expected such changes to affect their MLS play quite so much, but it has, and either DC needs to double down and play to win those tournaments, or you'll be playing solely for domestic trophies next year.

Posted by: Mastodon Juan | May 9, 2008 7:16 PM | Report abuse

kirk off the bench are you kidding me?

burch cant cross the ball.

niell is too small to recieve a cross.

dyastenko should not play at all.

quaranta is scared of his shadow.

emilio?????

wells horrible.


Posted by: castroviejo | May 9, 2008 7:58 PM | Report abuse

And...yes...this is the best soccer blog in the U.S.A.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | May 9, 2008 8:00 PM | Report abuse

yes, this is the best blog in soccer, but Steven, come on, you need to open your eyes about Jaime Moreno. The guy should have retired 2 years ago, but when he performs world class magic, you need to recognize him with more than a 4. It saddens me that anyone could have missed a overaged player having two Fire players biting at his heals all night, and he made them all look like buffoons. He has been doing this regularly all year. The rest of the team around him is pathetic. Jaime is simply the best holder of the ball the game has ever seen. He was masterful last night, and has earned the respect of US and foreign players who all know not to challenge him when the ball is at his feet. Unlike Marco's skills which rapidly decreased in his last two years, the only skill Jaime has seen deminish is his ability to knock the cover off of the ball when he shoots. Otherwise, he has clearly been a fine wine who's vision and foot skill when the ball is at his feet are second to none, and we should smile knowing we are so lucky to be able to watch it. Giving him a 4? You've got to be kidding me. If he's a 4, then Dyachenko, Wells, and Tino are a -4 (and the front office is a big fat zero)

Posted by: Anonymous | May 9, 2008 8:15 PM | Report abuse

My question is how would anyone looking at Niell would think that he was a useful player. The coach has 5 games to save his job in my book.

Posted by: Crazy D | May 9, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

"Luciano Emilio has gone from MVP (most valuable player) to MWP (most worthless player)."
Worthless? Worthless? Really Goff? This was probably the silliest thing ever written on Soccer Insider. It is unfair and unwarranted.
Goff, you can do better than this.
Posted by: Goff Wrong Again | May 9, 2008 2:10 PM
========================
Ahh...Goff is 100% correct. What? You are his agent, family or a person who is responsible for giving him the Bonus for playing like a dead man? He has been crap.

Posted by: fff | May 9, 2008 8:39 PM | Report abuse

The front office thought that they had put together a deep team with enough quality to contend for three or four championships this year. They thought they had two good goalkeepers, they thought they had depth at midfield, and they thought they had a surplus of effective attacking options. They have none of these.

This team is relying on guys like Dyachenko, Burch, Niell, Wells, and Quaranta. I hate to say it because I want some of them to succeed, but none of these guys are capable MLS players. Nor are good players standing up to take their place. Stratford was absolutely horrendous in his start: so bad that he got yanked out before halftime! Kirk and Doe are good enough to get waived by mediocre MLS teams; they are not field-ready.

To make matters worse, several effective players from last year have become unreliable---obviously Emilio leads the way here, but Burch also has regressed (or everyone has figured out that he needs 10 yards of space to pull the trigger on a cross). The guys who add the most pace and excitment have been missing due to injury: Olsen and Fred (who has been inconsistent this year when he's played). Gallardo is a very good player but he hasn't found a rhythm and he is not going to carry this team the way Blanco carries Chicago. He's better than Gomez, but without Gomez this team is starved for speed and attacking aggression.

Martinez, Namoff, and Simms do not make me want to kick the television. That's about it.

Soehn is not organizing these guys to be an effective team. Sometimes there are only three in the back instead of four, but the guys out there don't know what they are doing together. His substitutions often make no sense. The team does not adapt when things change.

This is looking like a nightmare season. Shouldn't everyone be as outraged as Payne?

Posted by: black shirt | May 9, 2008 8:43 PM | Report abuse

They should let the reserves take the road trip so the first team can stay home and train like a real team for three weeks.

Posted by: fire all of them | May 9, 2008 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Emilio is horrible. We have no backup A-Mid (nor did we really last year). We are light at D-Mid (Simms is good but no one is behind him that is worth anything). Peralta and Wells seem to be the weak points. Martinez and Namoff seem to do be doing fine.

I cant help but think that KP was calling out Emilio in particular with his rant (well deserved... he played hard for maybe 20 minutes then went back to 08 form).

The folks who advocate for focusing on SuperLiga and Champions League have the right idea. We are having a LA Galaxy like season from last year.

Posted by: RIP General | May 9, 2008 9:35 PM | Report abuse

"Gros, Carroll, Olsen, and Gomez".. now that is scary (and I'm a NYRB fan)

"Quaranta, Simms, Dyachenko, Niell"...............ain't the same.

Posted by: Chic Charnley | May 9, 2008 11:09 PM | Report abuse

word on the "hey this door stop is much less effective than I imagined, and since it's just on loan can we give it back" sentiment.
Please let Ben Olsen be the Interim coach!
If some day down the line he wants to throw on his boots and jump back in the fight we would all rally behind him.
If anyone could catch a fire under these lazy bums I think it would be him.
This team really is sucking and I don't think it's cause we don't have Gomez.
Namoff has scored as many goals as him.
Front office sure does have a right to be pissed though.
Dychenko was a disgrace last weekend in Colorado. DISGRACE.
Jaime must be bummed with this crap.

Posted by: dadryan | May 10, 2008 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Goff, can you please write one of these for the Red Bulls? Because Ives is making the call that all is fine and dandy in Red Bull land but the fans know we could just as easily be in the Eastern conference cellar as DC United.

Posted by: Eugene | May 10, 2008 1:14 AM | Report abuse

Ok Jay, obviously Niell is Tattoo, but which player is Admiral Akbar?

Posted by: Ricky B | May 9, 2008 3:05 PM

http://dcunited.mlsnet.com/images/2006/02/21/xDYGmvdJ.jpg

http://www.dependablerenegade.com/photos/dr_pix/admiral_ackbar.jpg

The resemblance is uncanny, especially since neither can see forward to pass the ball.

Thx,

Jay!

Posted by: JayRockers! | May 10, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Desperate times call for desperate measures: draft Abby Wambach. She's bigger than Niell and more intense than Emilio. And she can score.

Any rules against having women on the team?

Posted by: LD | May 10, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

All this club needed from last year was one (two if possible but definatley one) outside midfielder to give dc a wider range of attack, since Earnie Stewart in 04 this club has not had a real outside midfielder, Fred was converted to that possition, so has everyone that has played in that possition till now, a target forward,(above 6 feet tall please)someone that can hold, head, and put the ball in the net every now and then, and if you want to get fancy, a central defender with experince (which we got in Martinez). If you are going to bring a player like Gallardo, you need to arrange the players around him, because he is not like Gomez, Gomez ran at defenders making himself the link between the midfield and the forwards, Gallardo is a passer in need of someone/s to link him with the forwards, and last but not least, wen in hell did we got so dam slow? this club has gotten slower and slower as the years gone by since 04. If a casual fan like me can see all this, how come the front office didn't? it seems to me the f.o. got the players they could instead of the ones needed.

Posted by: hinchadedc @hotmail.com | May 10, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

A couple of things.

Gallardo plays a completely different role than Gomez. that really hurts the team, as you did not really replace Gomez, who was very good up high and close to the goal.

Gallardo plays much deeper, and distributes the ball all over the field, at which he is amazingly effective (what a player this guy is, so agile...)

I thought in the off-season, that the best decision that DC would have made would be to keep Gomez on the team, and bring in Gallardo. That team would have looked something like this:

----------------Luciano-------------
----------Fred----------Gomez--------
-----Simms------Gallardo------Olsen------
Mactavish---Peralta------Martinez---Namoff
-----------------Wells-----------------

Niell is the poor decision. He's scrappy, has some talent, etc, but DC should have seen the troubles my Metros had with Sergio Galvan Rey. SGR was an extremely talented player, but he had two drawbacks. One his size, he was muscled off of everything. Two, he wasn't a hustle player (in his first year). Bradley forced him to become more hustle oriented, which is why he was marginally succesful in his second year (he actually scored and assited a little bit). However, his size was such a drawback in this league, despite his superior talent (he had an amazing touch in tight spaces).

Instead of wasting money on Niell, you keep Gomez (figure out some creative way to deal with the guaranteed three years, etc), and you have Jaime on the bench.

The loss of Gross and Olsen is huge. They allowed Fred, Gomez, Emilio, Jaime, the time and space to do things. Without those two, it's a completely different team.

So in conclusion:

i. no adequate gomez replacement in that 'tweener role (jaime is also a 'tweener, but he is done as a 90 minute player)

ii. Gros/Olsen kills DC United. those guys had huge engines, and alleviated the dirty work from other guys, especially when you had Simms on the field

iii. I did not talk about Luciano above, but he keyed the team last year. I did not think Gomez was that great last year, but Luciano gave the team that much more margin of error. His drop in form is astounding, although I bet he gets it back at some point.

Posted by: Arisrules | May 10, 2008 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Teams is sucking right now but for those of you who are still moaning about Gomez please get over it. I am not defending for FO but they did offer what Gomez wanted as he demanded but as Goff mentioned over and over Gomez wanted several years of guarantee contract. Do you really want to pay player who is fading for that much money or that many years? Also, he was already in decline.
And for your info he just got himself a red card even from the side line as nasty as he gets sometimes. Remember ....spiting?

Posted by: fff | May 10, 2008 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Fire the Coach? Soehn has been running this team, motivating the players for 4/5 years. If you think Nowak motivated players you haven't spoken to Gros, Olsen, Namoff, or others in locker room about coaching style. This is one reason Soehn was hired. That said, with 12-14 new faces in this lineup, and an MLS which is more competitive than ever, I believe these 3 things must take place to get us back to .500:

1) FANS must show patience and support for DCU right now.

2) Emilio must ride pine immediately while his paperwork is processed for transfer to another foreign club (we're seeing the reason he's played for 5 clubs in 7 years). Insert Doe.

3) Dyachenko is diabolical and must be replaced immediately by healthy Fred or Stratford.

Stay positive, long season, Coach will right this ship.

Posted by: staypositive | May 11, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

1. Put Burch back where he belongs, he's by no means a left mid and would provide overlap threat if starting from the back line.

2. Obviously put four on the back, at least give the team a fighting chance. Probably go 4-4-2.

3. Get Neill the hell out of the middle. He might be able to do something on right wing where there is currently nobody worth the shirt and where the ball can be played to his feet.

4. Find out where Glen Hanlon is and give Soehn a one-way ticket to join him; while the state of the team is not all his fault, he hasn't shown any ability whatsoever at developing players or managing the squad over the course of the season. Get someone with some brains and who can develop talent.

Posted by: spike_2.0 | May 11, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Soehn is unimaginative. Emilio needs to earn his pay raise. Wells is not the answer. Without Olsen and Gros, this team is lacking in "tradition" players. Niell spends too much time flopping.

But mainly, in my opinion, this team does not seem inspired to play for this coach. It may not even be his fault, but I think someone needs to be brought in to kick butts.

Posted by: CD | May 11, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Soehn is unimaginative. Emilio needs to earn his pay raise. Wells is not the answer. Without Olsen and Gros, this team is lacking in "tradition" players. Niell spends too much time flopping.

But mainly, in my opinion, this team does not seem inspired to play for this coach. It may not even be his fault, but I think someone needs to be brought in to kick butts.

Posted by: CD | May 11, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Bring back BRUCE ARENA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Teddy P. | May 11, 2008 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Bring back BRUCE ARENA!!!!!!!

Posted by: Teddy P. | May 11, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

as an outside observer with no real passionate opinon about DC either way; they simply look like a team that expects they will win without putting forth the effort.
I think it is something they often did in years past with varying degrees of success but I think the overall talent of the league has reached the point where more than the usual 2-3 teams are able to punish them for it.
The FO can buy whoever they want, but if the players aren't committed to putting for maxiumum effort then it lays on their shoulders and the coach who is incapable of pulling that out of them.

Posted by: papa bear | May 12, 2008 1:48 AM | Report abuse

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