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USA/DCU Rewind

Two teams in a tight spot, both carve out badly needed victories.

With the 1-0 result at T&T, the Americans are in find standing with two matchdays remaining. Two points from the last two games will clinch a berth. With the right combination of results, they could also go through without any more points, thanks to Costa Rica's monumental collapse. (Usually, Honduras is the final-round disappointment.)

USA 5-2-1, 16 points (+5 goal differential)
At Honduras Oct. 10, vs. Costa Rica at RFK Oct. 14
Mexico 5-3-0, 15 points (+3)
Vs. El Salvador, at T&T
Honduras 4-3-1, 13 points (+6)
Vs. USA, at El Salvador
Costa Rica 4-4-0, 12 points (-4)
Vs. T&T, at USA
El Salvador 2-4-2, 8 points (-2)
At Mexico, vs. Honduras
Trinidad and Tobago 1-5-2, 5 points (-8)
At Costa Rica, vs. Mexico

For the second straight match, the USA avoided yellow cards and will be full strength for the visit to San Pedro Sula next month. At the moment, the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL playoff is Costa Rica vs. Argentina. Yowza.

Ricardo Clark's brilliant strike:

As for D.C. United, the 1-0 triumph over Kansas City moved the red-and-black within three points of first-place Columbus. However, DCU has played more games than everyone in the league except Houston. Read my match report with quotes.

PLAYER RATINGS
Wicks 7; Namoff 7, James 5, McTavish 5, Wallace 6; Pontius 6, Simms 6, Gomez 6, Quaranta 4; Moreno 6.5, Emilio 6. Subs: Olsen 7, John 6, Fred 5.

By Steve Goff  |  September 10, 2009; 12:41 AM ET
Categories:  2010 World Cup , CONCACAF , D.C. United , MLS , U.S. men's national team  
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Next: Video: Brazil and Bahrain

Comments

First! Whooo!

Posted by: StewartDC8 | September 10, 2009 12:56 AM | Report abuse

Second? 3 points are just fine with me. May not have been pretty, but since when is that the American way?DCU got it done with a mash up of folks and I like it. Hopefully have some focused dudes to humble the high riding Sounders this weekend. If DCU can send home SSFC without any points gained in the last two weeks in league play they're going to start getting very anxious.

Posted by: DadRyan | September 10, 2009 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Last time we had an announced crowd of 8,033 or lower for an MLS match at home?

1996

Still, three points last night. And plenty of cash from the Madrid friendly.

Posted by: Kev29 | September 10, 2009 1:16 AM | Report abuse

On the ESPN replay, you could hear US coach Bradley tell the TnT coach after the game, "you deserved to win." I'd say that's both gracious and astute. There was a lot to like in TnT's performance, they were unfortunate on several golden opportunities and really kept the pressure on the US. And they played with class. US GK Howard was a beast.

Speaking of post-game grace notes, the few at the 'K tonight saw GK Wicks not only play a stellar game, but exchange jerseys with a Barra supporter afterwards! A lot of eyes will be on him Saturday and he's saying and doing everything possible to win back solid support.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | September 10, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Goff-

I saw Wallace as one of the weakest links today. I think a 5 would be better suited for his effort.

Posted by: redskinsux | September 10, 2009 1:20 AM | Report abuse

Yeah those ratings for Wallace (and Emilio) are ridiculous.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | September 10, 2009 1:22 AM | Report abuse

That's the first game I've seen dominated by a right back. And thanks to Davy Arnaud for missing all those point-blank shots.

Posted by: BarkerDavidL | September 10, 2009 1:23 AM | Report abuse

T&T-USA:

Sloppy. I don't know if T&T deserved to win; to me, this game should have ended 0-0 on account of the poor quality in central midfield for both teams. Dempsey looked like he'd rather be anywhere but this game. He did get involved in the goal (playing Donovan in on the left), but at some point we need him being a constant threat and not just popping up once or twice.

For once, I can say I supported Bradley not going with Torres. I think Torres should play more often, but bringing him into this game would have meant Donovan going to the right, where he'd be up against Jlloyd Samuel. Samuel plays for Bolton, while T&T's right back for the night, Silvio Spann, plays in the English Conference (that's semi-pro ball for those not fluent in Anglo). That mismatch had to be preserved.

We're going to pay for playing down to someone sooner or later. Let's say we're in South Africa and get a favorable draw where there's a team that's clearly the worst (Bahrain/New Zealand, perhaps). We have to beat that team, and probably by better than a 1-0 scoreline. I'm not really worried about us lifting our game if we get another tough group; I'm worried about us flubbing our lines when we've been given what should be a gimme 3 points in a tournament that doesn't hand out gifts.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | September 10, 2009 4:40 AM | Report abuse

United-Wizards:

Let me offer up a somewhat forced metaphor for last night's game.

A few years ago, I went out to get a lunch for myself, a milkshake for my mom, and a coffee for my dad. With the drinks and a full bag of food, I headed home. While making a sharp right merge, I fishtailed, spun, and (once my wheels hit a high curb) rolled onto my roof. I was completely fine, but there was food, milkshake, and coffee everywhere. It was like a bomb went off in the car. The only surface of the car that was clean was me. I had nothing on me, front or back, despite there being food on every surface on all sides of me.

That was, more or less, our defensive performance tonight. Against all odds, we were unscathed. KC should have scored at least 5 goals. The defensive shape of the whole team was awful. Namoff seemed to be defending all by himself for long stretches.

Part of this was Wallace not getting the balance between attack and defense right. I liked what he did going forward, but he was still trying to bomb forward when it was obvious that we needed a more conservative approach until we found our feet. Hopefully he can learn more about that balance, because what he'd add to the attack as a left back is tantalizing.

Simms (while he was in midfield) and James both had pretty poor games. KC's midfield and forwards completely outthought our central defensive players. I'm not sure what Vermes was thinking in taking off Gomez for Myers, but he lowered the Wizards' overall soccer IQ by quite a bit with that move. Frankly, it bailed us out, along with Arnaud's horrendous finishing.

The sub of James solved several problems at once: John stayed home, Wallace did better than Simms had in midfield, and Simms did better as a center back than James did. Great move by Soehn, even if you'd really not like to have to make such changes to coax some semblance of intelligent defending out of your team.

Skipping the ratings, I'll go shorthand: Namoff was MOTM. Olsen did very well in stopping the bleeding. Emilio scored (and nearly had 2 but for a great play by Conrad). Pontius was involved with the goal and was overall OK. John might not know how to play soccer, but he also did well enough at preventing others from doing so. Moreno and Quaranta didn't see much of the ball, but had some bright ideas (and in Moreno's case, good execution as well). Soehn deserves a little praise, too. Olsen for Gomez was a smart move, and so was the odd-seeming John-for-James swap.

On the bad side, the McTavish-James pairing should be avoided (that's 2 really poor showings by James in a row), and Simms had a real stinker until moved to central defense. Wallace needed to be more aware of the overall picture of the game and stay home. Quaranta, after 2 inspirational showings, didn't put himself into the game enough.

Bottom line: I'm glad we can grind out a win when we're playing poorly, but we can't afford to play that badly again for the rest of this season.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | September 10, 2009 5:00 AM | Report abuse

Pontius continues to put himself into great positions to score. He flubbed several opportunities last night but I think he deserves a ton of credit for his effort that led to our goal. He put his head in there only to get kicked in the head/face by the defender and keeper - before his diving header hit the post, and deflected to Emili-slow. He laid it out for the team. He definitely seems to have a brick wall in front of the goal on his opportunities lately. Hopefully he can give us some scoring punch the rest of the way 'cause we're going to need goals from somewhere.

I'm concerned Seattle's front three are going to torch our back lineup Saturday night. Here's what I would like to see.

Namoff-Simms-D. McT-John
Quaranta-Szetela/Olsen-Gomez-Wallace
Jaime-Pontius

We're going to need at least two goals to get a point or better this weekend. Man, it would be so sweet to put three additional points between us and the flounders.

Posted by: JaimeSegundo | September 10, 2009 6:22 AM | Report abuse

10TH!!!!! WOOOOOOOO F*CK YEAH I AM THE MO' F*CKIN MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: kdiff813 | September 10, 2009 6:23 AM | Report abuse

Goff: I guess you were so excited by a win you gave everyone about 2 points higher than they deserved. Emilio a 6 for a tap in and nothing else all night is just silly. KC was unlucky not to have been 3-0 up at the half.

Posted by: congguy | September 10, 2009 7:22 AM | Report abuse

I'm concerned Seattle's front three are going to torch our back lineup Saturday night.

Not for nothing, but Ljungberg's out for card accumulation. The 3 are Montero, Zakuani and who else? I'm asking, because I'm too drowsy to wonder the internets.

Posted by: Section117 | September 10, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse

I keep saying this season IS NOT OVER. Now we are only 3 (THREE)points out of 1st.

OK, less games than everybody else and spotty play to be sure. I thinks it's time to get off the fire Soehn/get rid of Emillio etc. bandwagon; now is not the time.

VAMOS UNITED!!!!

Posted by: 9Nine9 | September 10, 2009 7:35 AM | Report abuse

I just don't get the hype for Quaranta. Yes, I applaud his overcoming of the drug problem and I am glad for him.

But as a soccer player, he just isn't that good. He would be riding pine for any other MLS club except maybe New York; if he made the squad at all. The fact that he starts once in a while for us is simply a testament to how over-the-hill our team is. He is much slower now than when he is younger, though he is still one of the faster players on our team, which isn't saying much.

I just scratch my head in incredulity when I read posts to the effect that DCU should "rebuild around him", or that he is some kind of #10-shirt star of the future. Q's best days are behind him. For us he is a serviceable journeyman player. Think a midfield version of AJ Wood. Last night he was terrible, and a 4 grade is generous.

Posted by: Ron16 | September 10, 2009 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Another unimpressive match by the USA. Sigh. Glad to have the three points, but ...

@chest: I think the Americans would struggle to beat Bahrain right now. Not to mention the USA would likely falter against some teams in Europe that won't even qualify for WC 2010.

Posted by: Cerealman | September 10, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

I just read several posts and I really think that US fans need to give the negativity a break. T&T may not be the best side in CONCACAF, but it is hard to get a result there or on the road in World Cup qualifying in general. On a positive note Bornstein had the best game of his life, Howard was excellent, and although they did not score Altidore and Davies looked dangerous. I really think Dempsey needs to learn work ethic b/c his laziness caused a lot of defenders to work harder than they needed to. Also Feilhaber and Holden should be starting. They just bring so much quality to the Midfield. They hold the ball better and the passing improves significantly. I think last night was also a testament to T&T. They played better than I have ever witnessed and they have a lot of talent.

Posted by: no_recess | September 10, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

@Ron16, in my eyes Quaranta has been DC's most consistently effective offensive player this season. That being said, can anyone describe his play last night? A 4 from Goff does not bode well.

Posted by: hoyanick1 | September 10, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Mexico received a gift from the refs last night in their "win" over the Catrachos. Giovanni dos Santos dived on contact. If that contact happened anywhere outside of the box, he wouldn't have dived the way he did. This is one of the reasons people have no respect for the Mexican cheats. The ref seemed intimadated to call anything against the Mexicans. That's nothing new.

Posted by: Charisma_Man | September 10, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

hoyaninick:

It's fair to say Tino's legs did not match up with his soccer IQ; he made good runs, put himself in good positions, and created some dangerous situations, but his passing and shooting in the final third really deserted him. In the first half Gomez kept urging him forward, which really helped keep some pressure on the KC defense, but he seemed to outrun and disconnect from the rest of the DC squad from then on. Not a great performance but not a sign of decline either IMO.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | September 10, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

T&T may not be the best side in CONCACAF, but it is hard to get a result there or on the road in World Cup qualifying in general.

Posted by: no_recess

In general, yes, but not there. We don't lose there -- the only recent loss was in the last round of qualifying when we had sewn up advancement.

Posted by: Reignking | September 10, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Nice story Chest.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | September 10, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

uh oh. Goff said "find" instead of "fine". Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of vocabulary!

Posted by: troy6 | September 10, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Bottom line: I'm glad we can grind out a win when we're playing poorly, but we can't afford to play that badly again for the rest of this season.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | September 10, 2009 5:00 AM

First, Chest, glad you made it through the flip-over OK. Bet your dad was unhappy with you spilling his drinkg, though.

Second, I think griding out a win when one plays poorly is a good sign. If you can't do it through technique and tactics, do it through force of will and guts. I didn't see the game last night, but it sounds like that's what happened.

What United needs now is to combine the "will and guts" with good soccer. That wins trophies.

Posted by: joedoc1 | September 10, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

The penalty kick decision in the Mexico - Honduras game was correct. Although Gio did exaggerate the contact. Looked like Maynor Figueroa, who was behind Gio and the ball, stuck a forearm into the back of his ribcage and pushed.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | September 10, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Quaranta has been our best offensive player this year period. He has been looking to attack with the ball at his feet from the wing. Certainly had a tough game last night, but AJ Wood? Give me a break... What does that make Fred and Emilio? Emilio should of buried that late chance.

Posted by: restonhoops | September 10, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, Joel. I can hardly ever bring myself to agree with anything that goes Mexico's way - but that was a penalty. Unfortunate for the Honduran defender, since he stumbled into dos Santos, but contact and a foul nonetheless.

Posted by: Kev29 | September 10, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

It may not have been his best game, but the "4" tells me that Quaranta has set expectations very high. He's consistently one of our most energetic, engaged, and inspiring players, and his passing/crossing is usually spot on.

The Quaranta-to-Pontius connection is one of our most dangerous weapons, and a key to the future of DCU.

Posted by: -rke- | September 10, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

The only game this season where we looked anything like a well-oiled machine was in Chicago. And the reason was that we played Gomito one half and Moreno the opposite half. Both knew that they were the engine while they were in there. No confusion. Also, they gave it their all while they were in, knowing they were only playing 45. Finally, it allowed another, faster player on the field.

Well played Chest. Well played.

Posted by: dsheon1 | September 10, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Pontius should train with a team in Europe or Latin America this off-season. Jacobsen, Quaranta, Burch, and Wallace are also good candidates for such an experience.

Posted by: hoyanick1 | September 10, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

the way Maradona has his team playing right now may not be a bad thing for Costa Rica.

Posted by: UnitedinTx | September 10, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Dempsey was nightmerish last night. I woke up screaming in a cold sweat when I fell asleep before my brain did and it kept replaying give away after lazy give away, the walking, the stupid lazy dribbling and tricks and that STUPID look he gives his team mates after another one of his unforced turnovers...whew, I am starting to sweat again.

3 point is 3 points. Seats at the table are vanishing fast now and Argentina looks like its about to feast on someone from CONCACAF. So yeah, while the team played like the dog's backside last night I will take the full points thank you. Qualify now and clean up your act before next summer. Sounds like a plan.

This team is playing timidly, scared even. Scared of two things - (1) giving up that first goal and (2) dumb, unforced turnovers. They need confidence in themselves and Dempsey was not generating any last night. Perhaps Deuce is suffering from something - maybe some H1N1, or something - there has to be an axplanation for what he was doing last night.

The team settled down after the goal of course, but even moreso after Dempsey was subbed off. I think if he does not up his game, step-up his efforts he should sit. Holden may not be as skilled or flashy, but holds the ball better, passes just as well if not better, can actually serve a cross and actually TRACKS BACK.

Posted by: Kosh2 | September 10, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

*explanation

Posted by: Kosh2 | September 10, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Mexico won on another dive by Gio to get a penalty. That said, they deserved the win.

Posted by: JPHT | September 10, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

@Kosh2: Good point about Holden. I say this, of course, because I was telling my son the same thing last night. Donovan should have buried Holden's cross. Maybe he was tired because he was all over the field, but it was still a sitter.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | September 10, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Total Penalties, CONCACAF Qualifying:
Mexico: 5 For, 1 Against
T & T: 3 / 0
USA: 2 / 1
El Salvador: 1 / 4
Honduras: 1 / 3
Costa Rica: 1 / 2

I only listed the six teams in the final hex, but these numbers include all games played by the teams including the prelim group and the two-leg playoffs last year. Any conclusions you care to draw from these numbers are yours and yours alone. :)

Posted by: mjhoya12 | September 10, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I was very critical of Borenstein in the ES match. I thought he was OK last night. He made a few crucial 1v1 stops. I don't think he a starter, but he responded well after Wednesday's match.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | September 10, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure Amado Guevara picked up a yellow for fouling Cootie Mac Blanco in injury time that will keep him out of the US game.

Thx,

Jay!

Posted by: jayrockers | September 10, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Well -- though I've watched only the first half of the DCU game on tape, I have to agree with Chet's analysis and metaphor. When I was in college, I rolled a car over in a spectacular 10-15 m.p.h. crash. I emerged fine, but the car had to be put down, as the roof was never meant to support all that weight. The first half was one of the worst I have ever seen DCU play -- totally dominated by one of the worst teams in MLS -- yet DCU somehow emerged from the wreckage on top. It's hard to understand Goff's ratings based on that first half. Emilio had 2 touches (I didn't realize he was on the field until 35 mins into it) -- poaching in a wide-open goal doesn't get you a 6. and 6s for the defenders seems absurd, given how many looks at goal and near-misses KC produced in the first half alone.

The USA was also very lucky to win, though not as absurdly fortunate as DCU was. T&T had 4 or 5 good chances at a goal. The USA had 3 or 4, at most. Howard was far more challenged in goal, and the USA defense had more desperate defending. I expected the USA would win despite some scary moments, because Howard is by far the better goalkeeper, but I expected a better team effort. Dempsey was as bad as can be for 70 mins, but he wasn't the only one making unforced turnovers. As the NYT writer noted, at times Donovan seemed to be the only USA player giving much of an effort out there. In a country with more player depth, the lack of effort and quality in last night's game might lead to wholesale changes. Instead, we have to hope the team can dial up the effort the way they did in South Africa when their backs were to the wall.

Posted by: fischy | September 10, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

fischy and Chest's theme song?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | September 10, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Jay,

Indeed. Guevara picked up a yellow deep in added time for an ill-considered kick/tackle attempt at Blanco, after Blanco's Tony Award-nominated performance at the end of regulation.

Guevara will miss the USA game. Don't thank us. Thank Blanco, or ref Colin Campbell.

Anyways, you're welcome.

Posted by: fischy | September 10, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

@Kosh2: Good point about Holden. I say this, of course, because I was telling my son the same thing last night. Donovan should have buried Holden's cross. Maybe he was tired because he was all over the field, but it was still a sitter.

Posted by: I-270Exit1

It took a bad hop for a difficult half-volley. If Holden had hit it cleanly, it would've been easier to handle...and I was hoping that he was going to hold it and pull a Cobi.

Posted by: Reignking | September 10, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

@chest: I think the Americans would struggle to beat Bahrain right now. Not to mention the USA would likely falter against some teams in Europe that won't even qualify for WC 2010.

Posted by: Cerealman | September 10, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

This has to bee some kind of troll move on your part Cerealman, but I'll bite... You're off your rocker. Last night's game wasn't our best, but just a few months ago we beat the African champions (Egypt) 3-0, plus we beat Spain 2-0, and were up on Brasil 2-0 at halftime of the final. Out of eight games in CONCACAF, we've only lost two, one of which was at Azteca. Maybe I don't know enough about Bahrain, but to say we'd struggle against them and lose to European teams that won't qualify doesn't add up. We have a very good team right now that, on a good day, is capable of beating some of the best.

Posted by: WorldCup | September 10, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

So, we advance if we tie Honduras, right? That would give them a max 17 points and us a minimum 17 points, and we would have 4 head to head points versus their 1 head to head point.

Posted by: DCUSince96 | September 10, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Dempsey is perplexing. I think he needs a therapist or something. It's great to have a little arrogance (confidence)in a player, at this point he thinks his sh** don't stink. I'm still a big fan, but Bob needs to really lay into him.

Posted by: EssEff | September 10, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Note to self: If you ever end up meeting fischy or Chest_Rockwell, politely decline the offer of a ride home...;-)

Posted by: DadRyan | September 10, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Is the the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL play-in a single match or a home-and home?

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | September 10, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

As much as I was pleased to see Clark finally connect on one of his long range blasts for the win, you cannot use that as proof that the Clark-Bradley lineup works. It didn't. It STUNK until Feilhaber was inserted.

When both destroyers on the field, they hang out in a deep position in a straight line, they give playmakers all the space they need in front of them, and they don't work in tandem when the ball is in our defensive half. We need a player (like Feilhaber or Torres) who will push forward and provide a little pressure, but more importantly grease the offensive works.

This game was a shameful display of delusion on the part of Bradley, and it will only continue. If we only see Feilhaber and Torres when he decides to rest Clark, we are in trouble.

Also, Dempsey needs to have his ass be a supersub for a few matches. It is clear that he is dangerous, but it is possible that he is just as dangerous for a short spurt at the end as he is left on the field for an entire game, with half the work of Feilhaber or Holden.

As for our defensive options... Demerit, get well soon.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | September 10, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

@hoyanick

I disagree with Goff's ratings. Tino spent much of his night on the ground with no protection from the Center. It's hard to play well when you're constantly being fouled.

Some of the uninitiated also see a "pass to nowhere" as the problem of the sender when it is more often than not a problem with the receiver.

From where I sat, Tino, Chris, Brian and Jaime were trying to create something. Luci was a post and deserves the 4 (I added 1 for the goal) and Christian was a slow, moveable post deserving of a 4.5.

Posted by: carnack | September 10, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Re: Dempsey,

Perhaps XXXX from "Layer Cake" put it best:

"...and avoid like the plague, loud attention seeking wannabe gangsters who are in it for the glory, to be a face, to be a name. They don't mean to f*** up. They just do."

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | September 10, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

@Godfather_of_Goals
Playoff is home and home according to:

http://www.concacaf.com/viewCompetition.aspx?id=233

Playoff/Repechaje

First-Leg/Partido de Ida
14.11.2009 CONCACAF - CONMEBOL
Second-Leg/Partido de Vuelta
18.11.2009 CONMEBOL - CONCACAF

Posted by: 9Nine9 | September 10, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

All these driving accident stories make me glad I am in Arizona!!!! Much Safer out here with hippies on bicycles.

Anyway. Didn't see the DC United game but going with the mantra of everyone else throughout this yr: FIRE SOHEN! (I actually like the guy, just joining a bandwagon.)

I don't know what to say about the US game other than glad we got three points.

Posted by: grubbsbl | September 10, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

So, we advance if we tie Honduras, right? That would give them a max 17 points and us a minimum 17 points, and we would have 4 head to head points versus their 1 head to head point.

Posted by: DCUSince96 | September 10, 2009 12:45 PM
----------------------------------------------------

Nope. If we tie Honduras and lose to Costa Rica, we might be in 4th place, thrown into a playoff with the 5th place team in CONMEBOL (right now, that's Argentina).

If Costa Rica wins both matches, they would have 18, and Mexico would have 18, if they win only one match. 17 points may not be enough for the USA, unless there are some big upsets -- although a tie against Costa Rica would probably be enough to secure 3rd place irregardless of what happens against Honduras.

The first tiebreaker is not head-to-head play. It's goal difference in all group matches. Right now, Honduras has the edge over the USA there. Head-to-head is the 3rd tiebreaker.

Posted by: fischy | September 10, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Note to self: If you ever end up meeting fischy or Chest_Rockwell, politely decline the offer of a ride home...;-)

Posted by: DadRyan | September 10, 2009 1:12 PM
------------------------------------------------------

I'm an excellent driver.

2:00. Wheel of Fortune.

Seriously -- lesson learned. Eyes on the road, even on the campus drive....

Posted by: fischy | September 10, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Did somebody say irregardless?

Posted by: 9Nine9 | September 10, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I shouldn't have written "probably". A tie against Costa Rica would secure qualification for the USA. A draw in Honduras would not.

Posted by: fischy | September 10, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I must say that I'm in the camp of wanting to see *much* more of Feilhaber. He has that intangible skill that we are sorely lacking. His first touch is incredibly good. In the ES match, I remember a few high balls near the touchline that he took down sublimely under pressure. The kid has really improved since his injuries/Derby funk. I think his career is in a V-shaped recovery.

Posted by: EssEff | September 10, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

On the US game.

The US was damn lucky to have come away with the 3 points. It was a very unenthusiastic performance from them. T&T played an inspired game and I think, if it were not for Howard, T&T would have scored. I thought Bornstein played pretty well had a couple of solid tackles and stops. Spector, not so much. Midfield was crap and although Davies was hustling the whole game, it seemed as though he was getting pushed around by the T&T D a lot.

On DC United.

First half was terrible. They too, played uninspired soccer. The D was getting torn to pieces. I thought James looked lost out there, he was terrible. Even Soehn said, during the mid-game interview, that the d was horrible.

However, the second half was a much more improved game. With Benny in there, moving Simms into the back and John out there, really shored up the D.

To those Tino haters out there, Tino has been playing inspired soccer all season. Granted, some games are off but for the most part, he has been out there playing with heart and giving it his all out there.

I think/hope someone went off in the locker room at half time. It was a different team out there in the second half. Not the best I've seen but definately started playing with more heart and intensity. Also, glad to see Wicks kept his head on straight and didn't go postal again...

Posted by: dogboy | September 10, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

DC definately was a different team in the second half. From the stands the difference seemed obvious: olsen for gomez. I don't get the high rating for Gomez (much as I love him). Once again he seemed to drift through much of the game - I was expecting a better effort after the (correct) criticizm from Soehn. Olsen never stopped moving. His ability to read a game and position himself is always good, but last night he did particularly well.

On Quaranta: in the first half he seemed like the only guy who was hustling. His play wasn't in top form, but his effort was strong, and for me that stood out from an otherwise lackluster first half for this team.

One final observation. That game was boring. The soccer was awful on both sides through much of the match. I get that three points is three points, but that doesn't mean that I, as a fan, can't be disappointed. (And let me just add that it isn't really that easy for a game to be boring after a couple of those 24 oz. coronas.)

Posted by: regularfan | September 10, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh and btw, with all the conspiracy theories flying around this blog of late, isn't anyone else curious how fischy flipped his car at 10 mph? I'm guessing Szetela was spotted at the scene, and the accident was investigated by Mulder and Scully.

Posted by: regularfan | September 10, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

It's not fischy's fault. His car leans hard to the left.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | September 10, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

As a veteran of 4 USMNT WC qualification cycles (WC 94 we hosted, for WC 90, I only saw the T&T game; road wins in CONCACAF are rare. Yes, the first half we were terrible, perhaps it was the pitch (which seemed very fast) or the heat and humidity which saps energy but we hung on and got a great shot by an unlikely hero. Someone has to make a play - thats what it takes to get results in these ugly games. T&T played well at home with nothing to lose. We were tentative and lacked coherence. Howard saved our butt. The expectation that these will be beautiful games is naive. These are get result games. You want to watch pretty footbal watch Spain.

Posted by: sbg1 | September 10, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

@I-270 -- that's pretty much what happened. I took eyes off the road, the car drifted too far to the left -- then encountered obstacles that started the slow roll...

In this country you have to be careful to stay to the right of center. In most other countries they have enough sense to have left-drive cars and roads....

Posted by: fischy | September 10, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Note to soccer coaches around the world: If your player gets a new neck tatoo (wicks/demps) be afraid. very afraid...

Posted by: wordup1 | September 10, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Can you believe AMERICAN Samoa just went left?

Posted by: Reignking | September 10, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Ron16:

The following is a list of several current first-choice right midfielders in MLS:

Wells Thompson, Sam Cronin (playing out of position), Herculez Gomez, Atiba Harris, Jacob Peterson, Shea Salinas

Those are just the guys that, at least to me, are by orders of magnitude worse than Quaranta. That's leaving out the players that could be debated either way (Gaven, or Rolfe being played out of position, for example).

joedoc:

There was a moderate showing of will to win, but honestly it wasn't anywhere near what we showed in Chicago. Last night, in my book, was Lady Luck doing us a solid after being so cruel to us via refereeing throughout the season.

270:

That's the kind of quality we expect. Well done.

DadRyan:

No accidents before or since. A policeman who happened to be at the intersection watched it happen and said that, normally, flipping a car means an automatic ticket for reckless driving. However, since I was going under the speed limit (doing somewhere between 20-25 mph) and the road was wet, he said I was in the clear.

***

With the US, I don't think too many reasonable people expected a glorious performance. I've seen us play on the road, and it's never pretty. However, there's a difference between playing ugly and playing poorly; last night, we were in the latter category. It's one thing to give the ball away because you're being pressured, or to give up chances because your opponent is creative. It's another to give up the ball under no pressure or hand over 1v1s with your keeper because you just stopped paying attention defensively.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | September 10, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: torrey151 | September 10, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

@torrey -- It's true that RFK experience is grossly over-priced. The $15 parking charge is an obscenity. I bought a discounted pack of parking permits to go with my tickets, because I thought it would pay for itself even if I only drove to a handful of games. As a result, I drive more than I would like. On the other hand, the Metro Red line is a mess these days, so perhaps it's just as well. The main concessions are disgusting.

However, there are tasty options served up by the carts -- both imported food and respectable Salvadorean cuisine. If you don't need a napkin, you can eat fairly well -- though it's hardly stadium convenient finger food. If you do need a napkin...you can wash your hands in one of the many bathrooms. You might even luck out and find one with paper towels.

Someone deserves props for providing an excellent alternative to the fried fake food served at the counters. It's just too bad there isn't more variety. When the Nats were there, there were many grilled sausage carts, but they have largely (completely?) gone with the baseball team.

Of course, the stadium is a lousy place to see a game, and the views do not justify the ticket prices. Lately, neither does the team's quality of play. The only thing that can fix the performance problem is a roster overhaul, whereas the only thing that can fix the other problem is a new stadium.

The condition of the field is another matter. It actually could be fixed, with a relatively small investment. On the one hand, I can see why the city wouldn't want to invest much or anything in facility, including the grounds. The team seems set on moving to the 'burbs, unless the city agrees to terms which the politicians will not accept. On the other hand, it's disrespectful to the current tenant (I wonder if the team might have some legal recourse such as withholding rent) and to the fans.

Even worse, this shabby neglect of the relationship with the team becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If this is how the DCSEC treats DC United, why would the team be interested in working out a deal for a new stadium in the city on terms more favorable to the city than United has sought until now?

I also have to wonder if the USSF will ever want to return to RFK when they get a look at its current condition next month. All-in-all it's a big kiss-off to the area's soccer fans. Thank you, Mayor Fenty.

Posted by: fischy | September 10, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

DC is a cluster F. they do next to nothing right on their own. Were it not for the feds keeping things more or less on the level, this city would be detroit or baltimore. no doubt. and i do love it here, but some things are just a joke...

One party dominated places (p.g./dc/california) eventually slide into the abyss. A little competition is healthy.

Posted by: wordup1 | September 10, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Parking is up to $15 now? Wow.

Posted by: Reignking | September 10, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Paying that price for parking isn't that bad if you bring a few friends, bring a grill and a cooler of beer and enjoy yourself. Fill up on the good stuff outside, and if you must hit up the Carne Asada/Pupusa carts inside.

jacob, don't fear the nooks and crannies of RFK. Those places are where the magic is made. As much as I'd like to see a new stadium, RFK's charms exist. You just need to know how to take advantage of them. (One Hitterz, and hip flasks my friends!)

Posted by: DadRyan | September 10, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Ricardo was abysmal before that strike. Great take nonetheless. I still dont like him over um...everyone on our bench. Dempsey shows up like 50% of the time. If it's a matter of fitness (which I dont think it is) thats a serious issue that needs to be addressed. i.e dont play him in consecutive games.

Posted by: Conservativemindsareinshackles | September 11, 2009 5:34 AM | Report abuse

Interesting that everyone wants to fire Soehn after every loss, but only 1 or 2 people have complimented Soehn for his substitutions when we win.

Posted by: DCUMD | September 11, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

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