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Matchnight #16: United-Rapids

Greetings from the City of Commerce, home of the neat little stadium sponsored by a national sporting goods company. A comfortable, overcast day with a few sprinkles has given way to a mostly pleasant evening. Memories of yesterday's afternoon-long bike trek along Cherry Creek Trail through south Denver remain vivid as the Insider prepares for the second half of United's league calendar, a 9:30 p.m. ET kickoff against the surging Rapids (Comcast SportsNet).

United hasn't exactly enjoyed its visits to the Mile High City: an 0-7-2 record the past nine years, including five straight losses. D.C. hasn't had a multi-goal goal here since a 5-2 victory in 2000. Last year, Christian Gomez stretched them apart. He'll try to return the favor against the Rapids, who gave up on him late last year and shipped him back to DCU.

In the end, after the two Gomez trades, DCU retained the Argentine, collected a first-round pick (rookie of the year favorite Chris Pontius), a reserve goalie that didn't last long in training camp and an international roster slot. The Rapids gave up their unused designated player slot and then got it back (and didn't fill it), midfielder Ivan Guerrero (who didn't play a minute before being let go this week) and a 2010 second-round pick. Essentially, Pontius for a second-rounder.

As for tonight, Jaime Moreno (hamstring) and Fred (adductor) are out. Luciano Emilio (knee?) is hurting. I hear DCU is going with a 4-4-2 alignment. More later.....

DCU LINEUP: Wicks; Namoff, Janicki, Jakovic, John; Olsen, Simms, Gomez, Wallace; Pontius, Quaranta. Subs: Kocic, Burch, McTavish, N'Silu, Jacobson, Barklage, Khumalo. (Emilio out with a knee contusion.) It's a 4-4-2, in part to work Janicki back into the lineup as Jakovic prepares to report for extended Canadian national team duty at the Gold Cup.

As usual, you've come to the right place for pregame, in-game and postgame discussion.

By Steve Goff  |  June 20, 2009; 7:50 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Next: United Rewind


Pontius for a 2nd? Nice.
Last year was tough though.
4-4-2....must be sick of Burch getting abused. Maybe we see John out wide? Could be interesting.
Q and Wallce wide mid, Pontius and Emilio(if healthy) up top?
Nice tease, Goff.

Posted by: sobugged1 | June 20, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Way to drive Dadryan crazy, Goff.





Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 20, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

I meant Namoff, not Burch, apologies

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 20, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

4-4-2? Novel idea. Now, please tell me its Wallace-Janicki-Jakovic-Namoff, left to right on the back line.

Posted by: JaimeSegundo | June 20, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

4-4-2? Hmm...

Party Boy-Boyzzz


Quaranta is the withdrawn striker, obviously. Seeing Party Boy/Boyzzz together just cracks me up. Does John get the start over John? Are we going to see McTavish in there somewhere, perhaps? This should be interesting. Bad place to experiment though. Colorado hasn't exactly been RFK West for us.

Posted by: kdiff813 | June 20, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Typo: it should read does John get the start over *Burch.

Also, Wallace should obviously be on the left.

Posted by: kdiff813 | June 20, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Emilio's recent run has not been very kind to me. 4-4-2 could be a good thing but I hope this won't mess up the system we have been playing for a while specially at Colocoolado.

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball | June 20, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Per DCU Twitter:

Wicks, Namoff, Janicki, Jakovic, John, Pontius, Olsen, Simms, Wallace, Gomez, Quaranta

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 20, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse






Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 20, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Living the dream Goff!
Coulda used that Emilio info hours ago, but maybe some of my other fantasy players can make a dent.
Vamos United!
Is Noonan playing for the Rapids tonight?

Posted by: DadRyan | June 20, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Given the difficulties, to say the least, that DCU has experienced in Colorado I think a 4-4-2 or even a 4-4-1-1 makes a lot of sense. I'm glad to see Burch sitting out for for this one. Glad to see there is some accountability on this team. Perhaps, in opposition to the US national team.

Posted by: diego_r | June 20, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Holy ish, the ref in the Houston-RSL game just gave a water break halfway through the first half...

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 20, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

I hope Olsen and Gomez are durable enough to go well past halftime. I'm glad Avery John is starting as he's a more proven defender than Burch.

Colorado's roster isn't too impressive yet they always manage to make United look like they're sucking air thru a snorkel by the latter stages of the game.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | June 20, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Just checked MLSnet scoreboard and, as of now, 4 own goals have already been scored this week. Let's pass to their central defenders!

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | June 20, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the crowd won't be much of a factor tonight...

Posted by: FrancoNiell | June 20, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Where are the fans? I hope Commerce City isn't turning into Frisco.

Posted by: Pedalada | June 20, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

I'd be interested in the increasing delight of Pontius and Quaranta's understanding.

My big complaint: Olsen being forced to run up and down the flank. If he gets an injury while running alone, I'm going to be miffed.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | June 20, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Good possession early...

Posted by: FrancoNiell | June 20, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Agree with kdiff813 - hope to see McTavish in the mix before the first half ends.

Posted by: jojalu | June 20, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

1-0 Colorado. Poor tackling by Janicki in the back.

Posted by: FrancoNiell | June 20, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

we should not be losing to this team

I don't even recognize a lot of Colorado players.

Posted by: Pedalada | June 20, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

This field is so wide it barely fits on the tv screen!

Posted by: diego_r | June 20, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

anyone have a link to watch the match online?

Posted by: grotusmaximus | June 20, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

The match is on

Posted by: Beckster1 | June 20, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse has it as well.

Posted by: addick | June 20, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

I have to say, Pontius is having a screamer this half. First time he's looked like a rookie all year for me. We need a better second half from him.

Meanwhile, Quaranta is leaving us wishing that he could have skipped the trouble years and made a case in 06. Aw well.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | June 20, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

And John was selected ahead of Burich why?

Posted by: Beckster1 | June 20, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Not a good end to the half. Down 2-0 on a careless pass in the back by John. Against the run of play, too.

Posted by: FrancoNiell | June 20, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

That was a terrible half of play.

Posted by: diego_r | June 20, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Soehn is at fault for this awful lineup. Why would you start two guys who haven't had much playing time all year long on the left side of defense? Why not use McTavish instead of Janicki? Why John over Burch? This lineup is the reason why the score line is 2-nil. I guess he was taking advice from Bob Bradley on picking players that are out of form as starters. Is there anyway we can trade Tom Soehn for a new stadium?

Posted by: no_recess | June 20, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Nice assist by Avery John to put us down 2-0 right before the halftime whistle. Why wasn't Wicks screaming about that one? Again, our defense seems to be doing most of the work for the other team's offense...stupid mistakes that we have to spend the rest of the game making up for instead of scoring to finish the game off. This is becoming sooooooooo frustrating!!!

Posted by: asocrlovr | June 20, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Yap... another disaster coach's decision. I agree with no resess. Specially on the road where we have trouble winning.

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball | June 20, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

I like the switch back to the 3-5-2. It seemed as if a lot of the turnovers in the first half were do to the players being used to play the ball through the middle, but minus one man, and it just wasn't working.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 20, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Avery John has shown us why Burch has been starting. Not sure why Soehn chose Colorado to break in 3 players who haven't seen the field in a while. Puzzling?!

Posted by: mbyrd28 | June 20, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

This is painful. Terrible mistakes in the back tonight.

Posted by: FrancoNiell | June 20, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Fast, untalented strikers: DC's achilles' heel since I've followed the team

Posted by: carmines757 | June 20, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

This is wretched...I understand why he started janicki, just not the time or place tonight. Two horrible defensive blunders...just plain awful

Posted by: strago | June 20, 2009 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Party Boy with a good look. Good save from Pickens though.

Posted by: kdiff813 | June 20, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Steve - do you have a summer intern? If so, can you ask him/her to compile DC's all-time record at altitude (say, Denver or higher)?

Posted by: Pedalada | June 20, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

I don't remember the last time we actually won away at Colorado

Posted by: Beckster1 | June 20, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

N'Silu's coming in for Olsen, who's been all but invisible for the 60+ minutes he's played in. McTavish is coming in too.

Posted by: kdiff813 | June 20, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Why is my Comcast Sportsnet HD in Spanish and my non HD in English? Yes, I have tried selecting the English option on my Comcast menu. Anyone else have this problem??

Posted by: dcfan11 | June 20, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

McTavish for Wallace, who's been really out of shape and tired. Good subs, I think. They provide offense and stability at the same time.

Posted by: kdiff813 | June 20, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

I've never tuned out of a DC game while watching, but I'm very close to doing so today

Posted by: carmines757 | June 20, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

You're not the only one carmines. I've done so quite a few times. It must be the altitude disrupting our focus.

Posted by: kdiff813 | June 20, 2009 11:03 PM | Report abuse

nice how my FIOS channel guide says this game is coming to us from Mile High Stadium

Posted by: Pedalada | June 20, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Edgar Allen Poe would be best commentator to assess the weak, Poe-thetic play all over the pitch. Gomez looks like he's lost at sea.

I was talking to my dad about the same thing just now, carmines757. Robbie Findley, Omar Cummings, Attiba Harris. We just have no answer for speed.

I'd say we're now playing a 2-3-1 formation, with two players clutching their ankles in exhaustion and Gomez dribbling toothlessly around.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | June 20, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

We have not won there since 2000...

Posted by: strago | June 20, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Cummings almost gets a third. Oy.

Posted by: kdiff813 | June 20, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Altitude's effect on a game, in reality, is probably 30% physical, 70% mental

Posted by: carmines757 | June 20, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

as always, I find Johnson and Rongen's commentary insightful - I just like the way they call the more reason why CSN telecasts of United games are always better than FSC or ESPN, at least for me

Posted by: Pedalada | June 20, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Ditto Pedalada.

Posted by: kdiff813 | June 20, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Almost 4-0 again. Goddammit.

Posted by: kdiff813 | June 20, 2009 11:18 PM | Report abuse

So the game is on in HD? I have DISH and it's not on in HD. This happens all the time to me. Anybo else see this?

Posted by: mbyrd28 | June 20, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

it's HD on FIOS

Posted by: Pedalada | June 20, 2009 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Highly Disappointing

Posted by: carmines757 | June 20, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

masochistic, if you stayed for 90'...
like WrongOne said, I guess it's good to get spanked every now and then...
3rd game in 8 days at altitude just isn't fair-hello scheduling dept.!!!!

Posted by: asocrlovr | June 20, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

I think they said the last time DC won in Colorado was May 6, 2000.
That sound right?
OH well.
I'm taking my DCU punch card and tossing it into the back of the locker until after my summer break. Lot's of time for fools to rest up. Woulda been nice to not end the first half of the season with such a pathetic loss though.

Cummings is a beast. Nice work Colorado. Way to poop the bed DC. Guess you guys were inspired by the US national Team?
Adios Gringos!
Happy Father's Day and hug those you love!

Posted by: DadRyan | June 20, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse


McTavish hasn't played much more than Janicki. Burch had a stinker against Seattle; I for one wasn't surprised to see John get the start.

I strongly disagree that we were down 2-0 due to tactics. We were down because the players came out flat and unfocused, and 2 defenders made terrible mistakes to hand the Rapids 2 goals. In Colorado, the change to a 442 (I'd call it a 4312, since Olsen and Wallace pinched in a bit) isn't particularly ill-advised. There's less running on the flanks, mainly (with 2 players instead of 1 on each wing), and since the Rapids like to attack there, in theory it would make us more stable and less likely to fall victim to tired legs. Of course, tactics kind of go out the door when most of your players just aren't there mentally. Whether that's on Soehn this time or just the players doing poorly is hard to say on the basis of one game.


What's the point of screaming at John there? Anyone who's played or even seen more than one soccer game in their lives would know how severe a mistake that was. No point in beating a dead horse.


3 games in 8 days, and we're at altitude.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | June 21, 2009 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Best thing about this game was me sleeping through most of the 2nd half.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | June 21, 2009 12:19 AM | Report abuse

I'm a little surprised that people were not expecting Soehn to bring in some reserves today. 3 games in short time, and we're at altitude, and we just played on turf, and we have key players missing (Moreno, Fred, Emilio). Add in a horror show from Burch on Thursday, and the addition of some rarely used players was inevitable.

Janicki needs to get minutes if Jakovic is going to be called in by Canada. That was made even more obvious by his play tonight. Burch was poor in Seattle, and you've got to keep some competition for the regulars or we'll get comfortable.

You'd think reading these comments that we were ripped apart, a la the US against Brazil. I didn't see it that way. While we definitely played poorly, you have to remember that Colorado only created 3 chances of their own, and scored on none. All of their goals came from absolutely terrible defensive errors; Janicki's missed tackles on the 1st, John's through ball for Cummings on the 2nd, and Jakovic taking a poor touch on the 3rd. Frankly, both teams looked short of ideas; the difference was that Colorado was sound at the back and defended from midfield well. Colorado basically only offered going over the top for Cummings or having Clark run at people (and that was rare). 3-0 masks the fact that they were unable to create much without a lot of help from some truly awful mistakes on our side.

I thought that, aside from John and Janicki being poor, we also had a bad showing from Simms. I'm guessing he was just running on fumes. There's a point that I would criticize Soehn on; from what was on display tonight, it's clear that Simms needed a break. McTavish and Jacobson were both available to start, and would have undoubtedly been fresher. Other than that, I think we just had a perfect storm of low energy, a bunch of "meh" performances, and our mistakes being punished.

My ratings:

Wicks - 5; Namoff - 5, Jakovic - 5, Janicki - 4, John - 3; Olsen - 4.5, Simms - 4, Wallace - 4.5; Gomez - 4.5; Quaranta - 6, Pontius - 5. Subs: Khumalo - 5, McTavish - 5, N'Silu - 5.

Jakovic actually played pretty well (made tackles, moved the ball well, covered the failings of others), but he gave the Rapids their 3rd goal on a platter. Quaranta was the only player offering a real offensive spark; I might be wrong, but I believe he was involved with every single chance or half-chance we created. Pontius had some mistakes, but also had some decent moments and got into good positions, so I split the difference and went with a 5.

Let's face it: This game was always going to be a tough one. The schedule set up in such a way that a result tonight was going to be, at least to me, much bigger than the result in Seattle was. That doesn't excuse the groggy, unfocused display, but it's not the most surprising thing I've ever seen either.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | June 21, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse

If we don't make the mistakes that we did, this game would've definitely been a 0-0 snoozefest like the RSL game 4 weeks ago

Posted by: carmines757 | June 21, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse

yo Chest-
my "point" was that Wicks seemed to yell at everyone for any slight mistake up folks in the locker room must have talked to him about his "over-berating". he seemed to be able to just accept things much easier today than in the past.

Posted by: asocrlovr | June 21, 2009 12:59 AM | Report abuse

When our team starts slowly in so many games you have to hang that on the coach.I have no problem with either formation as long as players are clearly instructed about what that means in terms of marking and also converting to offense.Is this happening? We don't know as outsiders. My criticism over the years has been that too much responsibility with DCU is given to individual players
brilliance rather than forming a coherent unit-- in whatever formation-- except under Novak.
Another issue to be addressed--again--is our aging Latin ex-stars

Gomez is still getting love for his occasional brilliance but not the deserved criticism for dis-
appearing for most of the game. His give-away led to the first goal, compounded by Janicki; but it is clear why Colorado benched him. Here is a team that plays as a unit, like Chivas and RSL,also Houston, Seattle, Columbus under Sigi-- and they started without 2 of their leaders, Casey and Mell.
yet we rely on El Diablo, or Jaime, or younger Emilio/Gomito s
to pull out the chestnuts from the fire. This reflects poorly on
strategy and tactics.
Also, I was utterly amazed to read on previous threads that Gomez should/could be the naturalized playmaker for the USMNT. Are you kidding??????
He NEVER played in the first division in Arg. and you want him to lead us in the WC?? And some think that Thomas (w)Rongen would be a good head coach? Why? B/c he has an accent? Look what he did here in MLS and with the U-20s!!
Listen to his pedestrian/homerist commentary! Who is worse here: TR or J Harkes? For me, you need honest commentary a la Winalda even if it hurts our feelings. Do we ever hear Derek Rae fawning over players or making excuses?
I feel better having vented my frustrations this week.Coach Peter

Posted by: bechtoldpk | June 21, 2009 7:10 AM | Report abuse


You cannot be serious. I have read many of your posts (although most are long winded) and usually respect you opinion. However you are way off base here. Janicki and John have never played on the same backline more or less a back four. So there is no chemistry. Both players made Cummings look good. McTavish and Burch played together from 2006-2008. John's turnover and Janicki's panicking slide tackle are the reason why Cummings scored. If Janicki does not slide there is less space for Cummings to shoot. If John does not pass the ball to Cummings then again he does not score. Also Ben Olsen does not have the legs to play on the wing. So please explain how tactics did not play are role. Our 4-4-2 did not allow us to maintain any possession and our backline had no cohesiveness.

Posted by: no_recess | June 21, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Ack, what a disaster. I had to turn it off I was so disgusted.

I have a problem with Soehn in this fiasco.

Shifting to a new formation on the road and filling it with two defenders who haven't played much was begging for abuse.

I think he relies too much on Pontius and Wallace and they are wearing out. Shifting Pontius to be the main forward in a new role was a bridge too far. that he did OK is a credit to him but he was set up for failure. N'Silu would have been the obvious partner for Tino if it were me.

Putting Olsen on the wing was also setting him up for failure. He's been out for weeks and at altitude you ask him to run the flanks????

Our players made mistakes but they were set up by the coach.

Posted by: RRP1 | June 21, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Commerce City and Frisco have always had similarly abysmal attendance.

Apparently becuase of the altitude DCU writes off the Colorado away game as a loss. Even when we were tearing up the league we would lose there. That's why I don't even bother to tune it in anymore.

Posted by: Ron16 | June 21, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

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