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DCU, Americans, Tyler, Santana

*Ben Olsen, Jaime Moreno, Clyde Simms and Marc Burch did not travel with D.C. United for Tuesday night's Champions League match at Toluca. Presumably, they are being rested ahead of the MLS finale Saturday at Kansas City. (None appears on the injury list.) Andrew Jacobson (hamstring) also stayed home. So who plays in defensive midfield?

The DCU roster:
Goalkeepers: Steve Cronin, Milos Kocic.
Defenders: Dejan Jakovic, Julius James, Avery John, Lawson Vaughn, David Habarugira.
Midfielders: Christian Gomez, Rodney Wallace, Fred, Devon McTavish, Devon McTavish, Tiyi Shipalane, Danny Szetela, John DiRaimondo.
Forwards: Luciano Emilio, Thabiso Khumalo, Chris Pontius.

Got a question for Olsen? Just ask him.

*Read Brian Straus's Q&A with USA and Columbus midfielder Robbie Rogers.

*Americans abroad:
MF Clint Dempsey 90 in Fulham's 2-0 victory over Hull City
F Jozy Altidore 21 for Hull City
F Eddie Johnson not in 18 for Fulham
F Mike Grella in 18, didn't play in Leeds' 2-1 win over Norwich
MF Benny Feilhaber 90 in Aarhus's 1-0 loss at Sonderjylland
MF Jeremiah White in 18, didn't play for Aarhus

*Legendary British announcer Martin Tyler will handle play by play for ESPN's coverage of the World Cup in the States.

*Less than eight months until the World Cup, and South Africa needs a coach. Brazilian Joel Santana was fired today.

By Steve Goff  |  October 19, 2009; 5:10 PM ET
Categories:  2010 World Cup , Americans Abroad , D.C. United , South Africa , TV  
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Next: Tuesday Kickaround


Something like this wouldn't surprise me, though it wouldn't necessarily be my first choice:

Cronin; Vaughn, James, Jakovic, John; Pontius, McTavish, Wallace, Fred; Gomez; Emilio

Then again, seeing the South Africans on the roster, Tommy might be clever enough to use their speed and put both Shipilane and Khumalo in...

Posted by: TheAMT | October 19, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Szetela? I had totally forgotten he was on the team.

Posted by: Reignking | October 19, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Julius James ineligible because he played for Houston earlier in the tournament?

Posted by: DCWhoDat | October 19, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, ESPN, for giving me no reason to fly 18 hrs to see the World Cup when I can listen to Martin Tyler and watch the games in HD.

Would getting Andy Grey also be asking too much?

Posted by: IamAM | October 19, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

My pick would be Szetela. For as bad as some people said we played against Columbus I actually like the look of our midfield. For once we had players in there that could match our opponents physical play. DC actually looked fast and covered some ground.

I think Szetela will have a good game tomorrow. Unfortunately, I can't see us getting a result away in Mexico, which is a shame because I would like us to go through.

Posted by: grubbsbl | October 19, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Just heard on ESPN that the ref that allowed the beachball goal has been demoted.

Posted by: Reignking | October 19, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Does the second McT count against our cap? Cause I'd rather have a second Olsen.

Posted by: Gavinmgraham | October 19, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Szetela definitely should take Jacobson's spot. And I would start the first McTavish but keep the second one on the bench as a possible sub.

Posted by: b18bolo | October 19, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

What channel/channels is the DCU game on tomorrow night? Any Telefutura coverage?

Posted by: DadRyan | October 19, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Danny & John for holding mid-fielders in a 3-5-2.

Posted by: VirginiaFan | October 19, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Yeah. That ref will be working a lower division match this weekend. One of the few times I've watched PTI and Wilbon says that the match should be replayed from the moment before the goal. Don't work that way Mike.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | October 19, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

@DCwhoDat, I believe Julius James is actually not cup tied as he was transferred to United before Houston entered directly into the group stage. His services weren't available in the Open Cup final because of his action for Houston in that tournament. That was the funny little hiccup last month ey?

I'm also surprised someone didn't jump down my throat for not checking the DCU site for the television coverage tomorrow night.
FSC and Telefutura will be showing the match... Which means my cheapskate arse(enjoy your FSC Kev29!) will probably be watching for free at home.
Sorry to ask such a stupid question.
It should be $2 pint night at Bailey's though if anyone is interested....

Posted by: DadRyan | October 19, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see Szetela try the d-mid spot, but it might go to Wallace. He's had spot duty there before.

Posted by: mmathai1 | October 19, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Hull City had 7 shots, but none on goal. Hard to score if you depend on own goals.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | October 19, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse


I could see Soehn going that way too, but maybe sending them out as a 4231 (attacking trio of Pontius-Gomez-Fred).

It's a tough lineup to choose due to the altitude. Obviously we're going to be defending a lot, which means we need to have active forwards who can press and disrupt Toluca's buildups. That would mean withholding Emilio until the later stages.

On the other hand, from watching US-based teams in Mexico, I'm thinking we'll have 55 minutes of being able to play before everyone runs out of gas. We have to take a lead into those late stages (I highly doubt our ability to shut Toluca out once our lungs go, but holding them to just one goal is not out of the realm of possibility). Like him or lump him, Emilio is our most likely scorer, and you have to figure we won't get many chances.


James didn't appear for Houston in this year's tournament. They didn't have to play in the qualifying round, and he came to us in time to play in our opening group game.


Back to the DC lineup, there are some things I'm pretty sure of. Khumalo showed against Columbus that he's not much of a defender beyond doing the running involved. Mentally, it's just not part of his game. Thus, I'd avoid starting him on the wing at Toluca, who will ruthlessly seek out players who are unsure of their defensive positioning. I would say we should start him (since his high energy style will probably be disruptive to their defenders), but if you start him there's no room for Gomez. Gomez is a big-game player, and has always had a knack for scoring our big goals internationally (Catolica, Firpo, etc). We will almost certainly have to make our set piece play count, so you've got to find a place for him.

At this point, I lean towards a team with Pontius and Wallace on the flanks and Gomez underneath Emilio. We need players who are at least competent defensively on the wings, and it helps that both Pontius and Wallace can pinch into the middle. We'll need to keep this game narrow, so that's a help. What I have in my head right now would look like this:

-------------------- Emilio
------------------- Gomez
Wallace - Szetela - McTavish - Pontius
John ---- James ---- Jakovic ---- Vaughn
------------------- Cronin

All tactical stuff aside, our odds are pretty long. They're at home, at altitude, their players are fitter than ours (if the first leg is any indication, their players may have double the lung capacity), and they're better technically. Other than size, we're at a disadvantage in every category. Realistically, I'd say we have around a 10% chance of getting the needed result. If you told me that we'd lose but our important starters will be healthy and aren't suffering from low morale due to being thrashed, I'd take it.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | October 19, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Hull City had 7 shots, but none on goal. Hard to score if you depend on own goals.

Posted by: I-270Exit1

They could try to bounce an errant shot off of a beachball.

Posted by: Reignking | October 19, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

I must be chopped liver.
I hope Emilio scores his Hat trick tomorrow night.
Vamos United!

Posted by: DadRyan | October 19, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Pappa needs a new tv. Come on Argy Bargy Champs League!

Posted by: DadRyan | October 19, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Szetela definitely should take Jacobson's spot. And I would start the first McTavish but keep the second one on the bench as a possible sub.

Just as long as the sub isn't before the half, which will make McTavish angry and not play at his best.

Posted by: bdwooton | October 19, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Not a bad lineup, Chest.

Here's what I expect, though:

------------- Emilio --- Pontius
Wallace -- Szetela -- McTavish -- Fred
John ------ James -------- Jakovic
------------------- Cronin

Posted by: fischy | October 20, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse


Good reminder. I have wielded the axe after last week's poor showing. Vamos Handsome Boys!


I really hope you're wrong there, but at this point Soehn is becoming hard to predict. Hopefully the switch for Columbus (abandoned at halftime) was just a relapse.

You could be dead on, though, which would be asking for trouble. A 3412 would be extremely draining to our wide players, and Toluca played a textbook example of how to break that formation in the game at RFK. It's also something they face regularly in Mexico (one of the only leagues where more than one oddball team relies on it). I don't expect a different formation to have substantially better odds, but by playing 4 in the back and clogging midfield we give ourselves a chance to slow things down, turn it scrappy, and maybe we pull this off. At the very least, keeping a slower pace will mean less tired players for Saturday in KC.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | October 20, 2009 6:54 AM | Report abuse

Goff you have McTavish listed twice. Did they clone him? Also I do believe that James is ineligible b/c he played with Houston.

Posted by: no_recess | October 20, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

I agree with TheAMT's lineup 100%.

I don't see Szetela cracking the starting lineup for Soehn in this one. Therefore we're more likely to see Wallace at CDM than on the wing. I like Chest's idea of Gomez to step up and deliver in this big match, as he's done in the past, but also look for the return of the Emilio/Fred Brazilian flare!

Posted by: DCUMD | October 20, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Jozy looked OK in his cameo appearance - and nearly created a goal for himself. He needs to play and Brown needs to go - that team is completely useless at the moment.

Posted by: Kev29 | October 20, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a big fan of ESPN hiring foreign commentators to cover the World Cup. There are enough decent Americans available (No, not you, Max Bretos).

Not trying to be anti-immigrant but American commentators from ESPN know more than enough about the global game to cover a World Cup effectively. ESPN's soccer coverage is again going a bit too far in its adoration of the English game.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | October 20, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I disagree, Joel. Martin Tyler is just better - his training and experience prepare him to call a soccer match properly. I don't go crazy, like some soccer fans, at American announcers (who are almost entirely trained in other sports) when they enthusiastically volunteer for soccer assignments. But Tyler is one of the best in the world (regardless of his nationality). There will be plenty of slots for American broadcasters and I have no problem with JP Dellacamra keeping the US matches - then have Tyler do some of the huge non-US games (if that's what ESPN decides).

And ESPN is not going over the top to adore English soccer, they've responded to what soccer fans in this country have asked them. This is a business decision - just like buying rights to the Premier League and picking Manchester United all the time when they had the Champs League. They see a market and they are serving it.

Posted by: Kev29 | October 20, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

@no_recess: Please see posts from Chest and myself above for the explanation of why James should be available tonight. He didn't play for Houston in this tournament. You're getting it mixed up with the Open Cup.

Posted by: DadRyan | October 20, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

You're getting it mixed up with the Open Cup.
Posted by: DadRyan

CONCACAF CL, US Open Cup, MLS Cup. All titles that DC won't win.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | October 20, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse


we won't probably won't reach agreement but I feel ESPN's soccer coverage is far too Anglophilic. Don't want the World Cup to look like ESPN's Champions League coverage where the English teams hog the limelight.

England will have a good team in South Africa and the EPL is an excellent league but the coverage shouldn't be just about how much business they can drum up for Man U's (or any other EPL team) future broadcasts.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | October 20, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I watched Fulham-Hull yesterday. What a wretched affair. Even the commentators gave up following the game - midway through the second half they were talking about players in the stands, other managers present at the Cottage, older Fulham players, anything but having to deal with what was in front of them.

Those two teams have the payroll of the entire MLS but the display in the field wasn't worth USL2 wages. How awful. Jozy saw the ball exactly twice and managed to generate the only threat to the hosts' goal. Simply terrible.

Posted by: ASFiorentina | October 20, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I hear you, Joel. But it's not about promoting or creating business, it's reacting to business that's already there. I think we've seen a trend in the last decade where soccer fans (and even some traditional or "big event" fans) want the game to be presented in its traditional form. A lot of time that's represented by the English. I think in time, with soccer gaining mainstream audiences in America, we'll have commentators that can manage to call the sport in a style that fans want. To me, sports fans crave authenticity, however that's perceived.

I think Tyler actually sums up this idea nicely himself...

"I think I've been acquired for what I am and not what I might become," Tyler said. "The thing that I'd liken it to is what we have in reverse over here. We wouldn't put U.K.-based commentary on the NBA or NFL. The description of an American sport comes from American voices and I think maybe those who have made the decision about me would like to get, if you like, a more global feel to what is a global game. Of course the words are only incidental to the pictures in television. But you can help by pushing the odd phrase in the right direction."

Posted by: Kev29 | October 20, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Even the commentators gave up following the game -

Posted by: ASFiorentina | October 20, 2009 10:59 AM

Martin Tyler ;-)

Posted by: Kev29 | October 20, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

But, but, but... we win trophies right 270?
This year has been a bummer, and as long a shot it is to get a passing result tonight, I'd be happy with them advancing in the CCL.
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year anyway, right?

Posted by: DadRyan | October 20, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Was this really supposed to be a rebuilding year? I thought this was supposed to be the year where we give it "one last run" with our superstar veterans before they go their separate ways.

Posted by: DCUMD | October 20, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I saw Santana play at the opening ceremonies at Stanford in '94, before the Brasil-Russia match. Oh, that must have been a different Santana.

Posted by: universityandpark | October 20, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I recall there not being a lot of high expectations in preseason DCUMD. Nice starts from Pontius and Wallace along with Benny Olsen coming back and showing some leadership seemed to have people thinking a little differently in the first 3 months of the season. Things really didn't start getting bad until August.

I was kidding around anyway, I don't know what you'd call this year. At least we won the Open Cup last year, and we didn't even have to suffer through the embarrassment of a ridiculously, egotistical marketing campaign.

Posted by: DadRyan | October 20, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

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