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DCU's Style Council

No matter who is coaching D.C. United next season -- whether it's Tom Soehn, Dave Sarachan, Richie Williams or Sir Alex Ferguson -- club president Kevin Payne says United will, for the betterment of his product, the league and the sport, maintain a progressive attacking style.

"We don't want to play like Colorado or New England, which most of the season sat with eight or nine guys behind the ball. How many people go to watch Colorado or New England play? That's a problem for our league. We can't play like we're a team desperately trying to remain in 14th place in the Premiership. Our market isn't there yet. They want to see something that is entertaining, and D.C. United has always had a way of playing. Given a choice, we would rather attack than cynically defend. You look at the way Real Salt Lake played when they came here [a 0-0 tie in May] and sat 10 guys behind the ball. You don't have to do that. Sometimes that is the best way to get a result -- if you don't care about the product, if you don't care about advertising your league. Long term, who wants to watch that?"

The number of goals a team scores does not definitively reflect a positive or negative style of play, but for the record, United (43) was tied with RSL for second in goals behind Dallas (50). Colorado (42) was next. New England had only 33 but was without prolific striker Taylor Twellman almost all year. With a busy calendar, injuries and a wildly fluctuating lineup, United scored just nine times in its final 10 league matches. The MLS goals-per-game average this regular season was 2.54, the lowest in league history.

Oh, there's more. Keep reading this thread.....

"There are a lot of games in our league that I can't watch. The problem in our league isn't who is or isn't in the playoffs; it's that not enough people want to watch our league yet, and we have to convince them that our league is worth watching. I don't think [playing conservatively] is the way to do it. I recognize there is more than one way to skin a cat. I'm not saying that everyone has to play an attacking style, but that is our style and identity, and we have to be honest with ourselves and say there are sometimes liabilities [such as missing the playoffs] that come with it.
"We still have a lot more trophies in our case than everybody else, so I think in the long run, it's the right thing to do. This league is changing [a smaller percentage of teams will make the playoffs as MLS expands by three over the next two seasons] and we are going to see more of that kind of [defensive] approach: results at any cost."

What do you think of:

*the criticism of the Revs, Rapids, and to some extent, RSL?
*the importance, for the league's sake, of clubs playing -- or at least attempting to play -- more stylish soccer in an effort to build the audience?

By Steve Goff  |  October 27, 2009; 5:51 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United , MLS  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: United Stadium Update
Next: Tuesday Kickaround


I want to have my cake and eat it too. I don't like sitting through a dull game. I don't like moping my way back to the parking lot after a loss. I want my old DCU back again! (Said in a very whiny voice.)

Posted by: glfrazier | October 27, 2009 6:26 AM | Report abuse

Chang has 100% ownership . . . get rid of Payne . . .

Posted by: LCR-54 | October 27, 2009 6:40 AM | Report abuse

I don't think he should have been specific when talking style of play but he has a good point even if it lacks practicality. MLS would definitely benefit if their teams all strived to play a more attacking style of play as would any league in any sport. However, Americans also want to see the better athletes or players playing such a style which inevitably leads to a cycle of sorts. Not every team will have such athletes and they will counter with a defensive style of play to remain competitive as winning also puts butts in seats. Look at the Washington Capitals as a local example. For years they played a defensive style of hockey due to their lack of upper echelon offensive players then along comes Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, and Green and it's party time at the Verizon Center. The Capitals can and do play an attacking style because they have one of the most talented rosters in the NHL but others in league would get killed trying to keep up with them. Their only alternative is to play a defensive style to produce wins and hopefully more fans in their arenas.

Posted by: croftonpost | October 27, 2009 7:08 AM | Report abuse

I guess it depends on what *Ever Chang's Mood* is.

Posted by: tailwagger | October 27, 2009 7:18 AM | Report abuse

Oh for ****s sake.

The notion that a side-effect of United's attempt at an attractive playing style is the "liability" that we might miss the playoffs is incredibly wrong-headed, delusional, and deeply insulting to the paying customers. This sounds exactly like the head-up-his ass, marketingspeak that spews from the mouth of feckless Vinny Cerrato.

Kevin Payne is singing the same tune: look at our past record of greatness, we're on the right track to provide the same level of "excitement" if everyone is patient (and keeps paying).

What's more, his central thesis is wrong. How "unattractive" is the soccer played by the following teams that made the playoffs this year: Chicago, LA, Seattle, Columbus, Chivas? Not very.

Sure, everyone wants to pay to see entertaining soccer, which, by implication, is "good" soccer--the type of soccer DC United has largely not been playing under Soehn's tenure. I'll go there: even in Soehn's first year, the year United won the Supporters Shield, were we actually playing well or was the season really all about Perkins standing on his head in a few key games and Gomez taking the team on his back when it counted?

Payne's comments sound like those of a bureaucrat who has been swimming in his own [propaganda] for too long. Divorced from reality. Unless, of course, he's not sincere and is just spewing such nonsense to spin the value of the team to keep it attractive to jurisdictions potentially interested in a stadium deal.

Either way, this stinks. The fish is rotting from the head.

Posted by: DCUCurmudgeon | October 27, 2009 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Yet New England is going to the playoffs...again.

Posted by: Section117 | October 27, 2009 7:20 AM | Report abuse

From a style of play perspective, fans of Colorado and New England would have little to argue with here. RSL's approach here was due to the fact that they were desperate to avoid being thrashed on the road, which has happened to them repeatedly throughout their history. As the season wore on, they tried to play their soccer on the road (results were more or less the same, but it was a less ugly approach). It has to be said, though, that they did turn up at RFK and park the bus.

Colorado has substituted playing fast with playing attractive soccer. Smith has them playing an extremely English style, and the "14th in the Premiership" crack from Payne pretty much sums up their approach. There's never been much emphasis on style from the Rapids organization (in fact, it's often seemed like they don't emphasize much of anything other than making up numbers). They'll take a winner however it happens.

The Revs do try to play somewhat when they have everyone, but without Ralston or Twellman, and with a team high on athleticism but low on technique, Nicol's not in much of a position to be choosy. The currently available crop of players would get demolished if they opened up. Then again, Nicol's Revs have always gone defensive the moment there is any pressure for a result, so this is not at all a surprise. From the outside looking in, the New England sports market is all hopped up on winning teams, so I don't know if the Revs organization or fans will care too much about playing ugly soccer and grinding out results.

That brings me to the second question. I think how a team plays in MLS only matters in certain markets. Here, it matters, because there's been a commitment to good soccer from day one. In LA, Schmid was fired with his team in 1st because they weren't playing attractive soccer, so it matters there. In Houston, I'd say that a certain brand of direct, physical attacking soccer (aggressive in every way, I suppose) is coming to be expected.

In other markets, it seems like wins are the only thing that counts. I doubt Chicago's fans will mind too much if Chicago wins MLS Cup by preventing soccer from happening rather than actually playing (I recall reading many fans saying that they'd rather play faster and more direct than use Blanco, for example). In NY, at this point, anything that doesn't suck will do. Toronto is probably feeling the same.

For MLS to benefit, teams have to appeal to their markets. In some places, that's going to mean committing to an attacking style, whether it be possession-obsessed or more direct. In other places, putting up 1-0 wins in games that feature 10 times as many fouls as shots will be just fine. If a market's fans don't care about style, then it becomes very much a back-burner concern. It's good that Payne is fully behind a good style, and MLS could use a few more front office types like that. However, it's not imperative that every team tries to play sexy football.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | October 27, 2009 7:27 AM | Report abuse

I agree 100% with DCUCurmudgeon.

These comments smell of 10 years ago when DC was winning. Wake up Payne, you're stuck in the past. Its 100% inexcusable to say that it's a liability to lose because we play attractive soccer. You think Arsene Wenger uses that excuse for Arsenal? Or Del Bosque says that about Spain? Please.

The problem with Payne's comments is that he seems perfectly content with DCU's history. If he cant figure out how to adapt and change the current philosophy around the team, that's all it will ever be, history, because we wont be winning anymore hardware in the future.

I can guarantee you that our attendance will be below NE or RSL or Colorado if we play "attractive soccer" and continue to miss the playoffs. I still can't get over the fact that he is suggesting its OK to lose if you lose attractively.

In the immediate long term, I want a winner, a team that will draw in fans while preserving the existing fan-base. What I dont want to see is the crap I saw this year and last year again, because thats what it was.

Posted by: strago | October 27, 2009 7:39 AM | Report abuse

We will not be renewing our season tickets next year. We have been to many memorable games over the years, including the '96 and '97 MLS cups, can't say that I'll remember any from this year.

Tommy has to go, some of his lineups and substitutions throughout the year just don't make sense.

Posted by: o35_still_kicking | October 27, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

I think when you've missed the playoffs twice in a row, you should limit your criticisms to your own team. You don't need to explain to the fans which teams play boring soccer: it's pretty obvious.

BTW, I don't think he's suggesting that it's ok to lose. He's saying we have to win and win with our brand of soccer: up-tempo and attacking.

In the long term, you can't win and keep fans by playing defensive soccer. Soccer is called the beautiful game for a reason. So sure you can win a few fans with defensive soccer as long as you keep winning but you can't win forever. And those fans will leave when all they have is boring soccer coupled with losses. You have a better chance of keeping your fans if your brand of soccer is entertaining. We haven't won in 2 year and yet this blog keeps blowing up.

Posted by: tundey | October 27, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

"The problem in our league isn't who is or isn't in the playoffs; it's that not enough people want to watch our league yet, and we have to convince them that our league is worth watching."


"that is our style and identity, and we have to be honest with ourselves and say there are sometimes liabilities [such as missing the playoffs] that come with it."

Disagree. They didn't miss the play-offs because they were so beautiful and everyone else was so ugly. They missed the play-offs because they sucked.

And no-one wants to watch a team that sucks, no matter what style they fashion themselves as playing, and no matter how many g*dd*amn trophies there are in the case. You'd think he would have learned by now to lose that phrase.

As they say, let's go to the videotape. Did Seattle come in here twice in 10 days and sit behind the ball? NO! They came in and kicked DC's sorry butts, and their style and players were so fast that the dinosaurs with the trophies on their backs couldn't even catch them to FOUL them much less to MARK them.

Posted by: OWNTF | October 27, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

I don't think you can blame missing the playoffs because you play attacking soccer. You can blame it on a lack of organization from the front to the back and an inability to deal with changes in possession.

Chest has is right in his point that certain markets are coming to demand good soccer. DC is definitely that type of market and for whatever reason, this side, the past two years, was unable to convert its possession mentality into one that could bite other teams going forward.

Think, how many times going forward did Emilio or anyone else make that slicing run that someone bringing the ball forward could find. Our players looked as though they were waiting for balls instead of creating opportunities for themselves and the team. You could see it more often than not - the ball would come forward and if the counter didn't work, we'd knock the ball side-to-side and never really threaten.

We weren't doing enough in the attacking third to keep defenses honest.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | October 27, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: OWNTF | October 27, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

"I wish we'd wake up one day
an' everyone feel moved
But we're caught up in the dailies
and an ever changing mood."

Posted by: OWNTF | October 27, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Did someone say "Style Council"?.....

Oh wait, *no one* remembers that poor post-Jam effort by Paul Weller, so sorry, no song quotes.

Don't give me sexy football. Attractive attacking football, sure, but ya gotta have the players and staff to support it. See FC Barcelona for a reasonable (!) example. Aim for quality players, build a solid staff, and the on-field product will flow naturally.

Posted by: 22206no1 | October 27, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Way to go on taking a cheap shot at a team that actually made it to the playoffs. As a DCU and Revs fan (yes, that is possible), we'd all like to see the "best" soccer played, but there are few, if any, teams this season that suffered the sheer number of critical injuries to veteran offensive players than New England. What is remarkable about the Revs is that they bunkered as little as they did -- their half-rookie back line produced shutouts that some "better" teams would have loved to have had - say, like DCU? Having to play "survival" soccer and choosing to play it are two different things -- sounds to me like DCU's FO trying to cover it's butt rather than owning up to it's sorry decision-making on personnel.

Posted by: kaiko | October 27, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

This Revs fan would love a more attractive, attacking style of soccer, but a previous poster is right, we don't have the players to do that. Without Twellman or Ralston, the goals have been fewer and harder won: forget "attractive". Nicol is a master of making do with what he's got, and he got the Revs into the playoffs, again. And yes, in Boston, winning is more important than style.
DC has always been a more than worthy opponent, but I don't think it's because of sexy soccer. We're both in the same boat... we have aging veterans who have carried the teams on heart and guts. Which younger guys will be worthy successors?

Posted by: cammiev | October 27, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: OWNTF | October 27, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

oh great, just what this league needs - another super talent to constantly remind us just how low the level of players, coaches, and organization is in our league

Posted by: Section107 | October 27, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

No one wants to watch kick ball. As my 11 year old son's coach says, "Play the feet" and "play the way you're facing".

Posted by: peridigm | October 27, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

"play the way you're facing".

hmmm. do they ever practice turns?

Posted by: OWNTF | October 27, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Yes, the top of the league is certainly nailed down with unattractive soccer from Columbus, Los Angeles, Houston and Seattle.

Give me a break, Kevin. You're just making excuses for the piss poor decisions you have overseen. Don't blame the style of play of other teams, blame thinking that Fred, Christian and Luciano weren't going to go downhill.

I hate the way the Revs play, but they have made the playoffs eight years in a row. I'd like to do that in any fashion.

Posted by: beach3 | October 27, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Payne's assessment re the league and lmited style of play from an objective standpoint but for a team president to make those comments about other teams, especially when his team has just been eliminated formt the palyoffs because it was, frankly, not very good is tacky, lacks class, and is kinda cheap.

Posted by: atrain1 | October 27, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Obnoxious. From baiting teams that DID make the playoffs to referencing the trophies in our case (I hate to quote him, but as Drew Carey said (paraphrasing), "we *did* win trophies"), pure drivel.

The other irritating piece of this is where he essentially blame shifts to the players. "We win using a certain game plan, and we just weren't good enough using our game plan this year (or last)." Well, guess who's not executing it well? The players YOU brought in. Do YOUR job better and the talent on the field will be able to finish more chances.

Posted by: daandre3 | October 27, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Can you play attractive soccer AND win? Does playing defensively guarantee a win?

Someone brought up Arsenal, a classic example of a team that plays the beautiful game, has fans worldwide, and loses games it ought not to (or, like last week, ties games it should win).

Arsenal has a standard -- possess, attack through penetration, get numbers forward, move off the ball. Defensive balance is not at the top of the list. When they played well they were nearly unbeatable several years ago. Today, they are beatable, and finish anywhere from third to sixth each year.

The point I get from Payne is that results are important, but playing the game well is equally important. For the sake of the league, he wants teams to play the game well, and that will bring in the fans.

I like Payne's attitude. I just don't think he has the team to meet his goal. I don't think United was particularly enjoyable to watch this year. I never detected a philosophy... no patterns emerged of "we'll play the game this way, come heck or high water." Too many lineup changes, too many systems of play changes... just no consistency. Teams used to fear playing United. No longer.

I like Payne's vision. Unfortunately for the coaching staff and most of the players, they need to be released for that vision to be realized.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | October 27, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Did someone say "Style Council"?.....

Oh wait, *no one* remembers that poor post-Jam effort by Paul Weller, so sorry, no song quotes.

Posted by: 22206no1 | October 27, 2009 8:29 AM

No so, my zip-coded friend!

"I remember all the early days
Trying to think of the right things to say
I didn’t want you to think I was like the rest
Who think they own you just because you’ve laid with them
It didn’t matter - really didn’t matter
It didn’t matter now we are together..."

Style Council, "It Didn't Matter," circa late 80s

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | October 27, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Kevin Payne made himself look like an ass with these quotes. End. Of. Discussion.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | October 27, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

How many people came out to watch DCU this year? How'd their season end up? This is the problem with American soccer; it's either 400 players going forward, or 400 players staying back. Has Payne EVER seen Barcelona play?? They PLAY attacking soccer, yet they don't look like IDIOTS on defense!!............and oh by the way, they seem to win too!! Get your head out of the sand, man.

Posted by: Ireland2 | October 27, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Remember Arena's coaching philosophy, he coaches a style of play for the team. Everyone knew what was expected of the system and each position, regardless of who was playing that day. United had numerous roster changes and player availability problems during those times, usually due to national team duty, yet they never wavered from their attacking soccer, e.g. the magic triangle, and still managed to win.
How is it the Moreno and Gomez were never on the field at the same time?

Posted by: o35_still_kicking | October 27, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Payne is building his case for firing Sohn.

Posted by: david93 | October 27, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Kevin Payne made himself look like an ass with these quotes. End. Of. Discussion.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | October 27, 2009 9:01 AM

I guess you can close this thread now, Steve.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | October 27, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I can't help finding myself liking what Payne says but feel at the same time that there is some smugness there. DCU has always played a more technical style which for years broke down defenses with deft passing in small spaces to create space. The last two years its been obvious that we just don't have the players to do that with enough consistency. The creativity of our midfield (Gomez/Fred) was seriously lacking this year.

We scored the first goal so many times this season only to give up soft goals and have to settle for ties. We had to bring in defenders throughout the season to shore up a leaky defense. With all the games played and with late season injuries taking their toll we could not get the important results.

Sure, the DCU fans appreciate a more nuanced and technical game but results matter and we didn't have enough of them. The better teams in the league find a way to get results no matter how ugly.

Next year we will be "demoted" by not being involved in International play. We get to concentrate on league and USOC games (play in again for USOC) and have to prove our worth against MLS competition. This may be actually be a good thing.

Posted by: sbg1 | October 27, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse


Spot on about Seattle illustrating the gulf in class between the side we have versus the side we want to have.

Also, when I watch our struggles in the league and abroad I see the same story play out. We are just not fast enough. Our runs up top, down the flanks, through the middle, etc - are just not creating opportunities and causing problems for opposing defenses. When we see teams in CCL, USOC, SuperLiga and MLS score it's more often than not a situation where speed and match-up problems create scoring situations that get capitalized on.

DC doesn't have enough of it and some that do (Quaranta) remind me of the fast kid in Mighty Ducks 2 - no idea how to control it enough to make the best decision on the ball.

However, I don't want to see a complete sell-out for speed. We saw that in the Red Bulls this year. There's room for experience and skill on the ball - but we need some young and dangerous attacking players. And since we seem to have a problem developing and procuring those in America, we need some purse strings to get one from abroad. That means it's time to unload some heavy salaries - Fred, Emilio, Gomez - and make some tough decisions/exit strategies for Jamie and Ben.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | October 27, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Payne is great.

Posted by: chemweapon | October 27, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Steve was this conversation during happy hour?

VirginiaBlueBlood--- I've been preaching my wife's ears off all year about that. Particularly up top, we don't havea any speed. Emilio is great inside the box, but getting behind a defense is impossible. We are one dimensional.

Time for Fred, Gomez, Emilio to pack up and head out. Let's bring in some young legs....... Or Thierry Henry

Posted by: wanker82 | October 27, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

While I love his point, it's hard to make it when THEY played unwatchable soccer.

Posted by: sire1 | October 27, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

While I love his point, it's hard to make it when THEY played unwatchable soccer.

Posted by: sire1 | October 27, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse


The problem with people like Kevin Payne is that they don't realize that went "attacking" soccer turns into a hectic mess, you need to dial it back and play organized soccer.

I love attacking soccer and want MLS to succeed, but the unwatchable games come from teams trying to force things and constant turnovers, not teams playing defensively.

Posted by: beach3 | October 27, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Payne must really think highly of himself. Either that or he's completely delusional.

It's almost as if he thinks he's the Savior of the league because "we play the right way."

Sorry, but I didn't see a whole lot of teams bunkering against us and it certainly was not the reason for our failure to advance in CCL or MLS.

Posted by: delantero | October 27, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

"Did someone say "Style Council"?.....

Oh wait, *no one* remembers that poor post-Jam effort by Paul Weller, so sorry, no song quotes.

Seriously, what has Paul Weller done that was as exciting as the Jam? No matter how polished it was, no matter how pretty the packaging...

Which kind of leads me to DC United:

Posted by: yankiboy | October 27, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Hey KP-the problem wasn't that we played attacking soccer, it was that we didn't WIN enough games. That is why we MISSED THE PLAYOFFS a second straight season after YOU decided to "upgrade" the team a couple seasons ago.

So, based on Kevin Payne's comments about "10 guys behind the ball" and not being able to watch that, I know that KP and Chest Rockwell and a host of others (including some of my fellow Puerto Islanders fans who want Colin Clarke fired (insert rolled eyes here)) won't be hanging out at the Puerto Rican Islanders' Foreign Legion CONCACAF Champions League game viewing parties at Momo's any time soon...

"Loneliness", you are my new best friend. "Style", you are a cruel mistress...

Anyways, maybe KP needs to zip it when he calls out other clubs. How about concentrating on say--the one that YOU actually manage? How 'bout that???

Posted by: yankiboy | October 27, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Seattle plays a highly attractive style. Maybe Payne didn't watch any of their games.
And they did it in their first season. DC hasn't made the playoffs in 2. Suck it up.

Posted by: hendrix | October 27, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I read *Style Council* and thought they were going to announce the release of a 3rd jersey for international play...
maybe in 2011...

Posted by: DadRyan | October 27, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

My team played attacking soccer and scored the most goals in the league this year. They're also now in their offseason as of Saturday night.

Right now, I think I'd trade a few of those 3-2 and 2-1 losses where they couldn't hold a lead for a few more unwatchable 1-0 wins and 1-1 draws.

And BTW, I think it's hilarious that Payne is rapping Colorado (42 goals) and RSL (43 goals) when they scored more or less as many goals as DCU (43 goals).

Posted by: cockybovine | October 27, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Well DCU has not lived up to the expectations Payne is describing. Sohen needs to get fired, he is not a good coach, missing the playoffs 2 years in a row is not acceptable. Also they need to make more signings. They should think about bringing Arturo Alvarez from SJ

Posted by: futix | October 27, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I was going to keep this to myself. Because of our seat location we often ride the elevator with team officials or injured players. I think "what's said in the elevator stays in the elevator." BUT since Payne has gone public with his views...... I overheard him telling someone: "Well in England you have your Big Four who are great teams. But once you get beyond the Big Four we are competitive with the [Prem]" DELUSIONAL!

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | October 27, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Frome Steve's full length article:

Said Payne: "We had certain games where it reminded me of the way we looked in 2002 and 2003, where our players weren't sure what they were supposed to be doing out there. I don't blame that on the coaches; it was because we were playing every three days and playing a different system..."

Oh really? I blame that entirely on the coaches.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | October 27, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Attack and defend. Sounds like a plan to me.....

Posted by: CHICO13 | October 27, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

re: "As they say, let's go to the videotape. Did Seattle come in here twice in 10 days and sit behind the ball? NO! They came in and kicked DC's sorry butts, and their style and players were so fast that the dinosaurs with the trophies on their backs couldn't even catch them to FOUL them much less to MARK them."

Posted by: OWNTF

I nominate the above for Soccer Insider comment of the year.

Posted by: Ron16 | October 27, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse


I heartily agree (except for your cooment about Quaranta, whose pace has declined and these days is MLS-average at best).

We need serious pace because right now we cannot get behind defenses. And of course we need some skill to go with it.

Posted by: Ron16 | October 27, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I love that KP is committed to helping create a DC United identity. Trash talk like this is part of it.

And it fits - Goff, I would submit that without shootout games like their 6-0 thrashing of New England, RSL would not have nearly as many goals as it looks like they do on paper. The same is true for New England, and it is also true that both of those teams (when they came to RFK, at least) played total bunker-ball. I was there at both games. The RSL match was particularly painful to watch.

And I do think there is something to be said for attractive soccer. What I think KP is thinking of here in particular is converting the Eurosnob. If I took such a person to a DC United match like, say, TFC at RFK or the Open Cup Final or Rapids at RFK, they're more likely to come back or watch on TV, because win, lose, or draw, the product is still entertaining. If I take them to RSL at RFK or Gals at RFK, they're never coming back.

Posted by: VercengetorixII | October 27, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

So when are Payne and Soehn going to put together a team to play beautiful soccer?

Or Should we just watch Nowak do it in Philly?

Posted by: Southeasterner | October 27, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

"...But once you get beyond the Big Four we are competitive with the [Prem]" DELUSIONAL!
Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil.

We'd compete for relegation.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | October 27, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Talk about arrogant. What a jerk.

Posted by: whoshotsam | October 27, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I'd agree with most of what KP says about the league and selling a product, but the implied argument that DCU played the beautiful game this year but was undone because other teams played ugly and negative is just not accurate.

KPs statements are intended to deflect blame and shift responsibility.

I'd think that KP is likely hedging here. I'd guess that DCU has been in quiet negotiations with a coach or two but won't say anything about it publicly. KP comes out with this statement right after the end of the season in order to make it seem like he is 100% behind his guys in case the new coach doesn't work out.

Posted by: bigbadbri | October 27, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Well, count this season ticket holder out for next year. Between the stadium fiasco, a below average team, a shaky coach, players not being held accountable for their actions (Wicks), and now an unprofessional management making stupid statements about other teams, buying 5 season tickets, a parking permit and driving 2 hours one way to the game just doesn't seem like a good idea.

Posted by: CrippledKeeper | October 27, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

"...But once you get beyond the Big Four we are competitive with the [Prem]" DELUSIONAL!
Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil.

We'd compete for relegation.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 |

Yeah--We sure would for the Coca-Cola Championship...


Posted by: yankiboy | October 27, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Did somebody say quotes?

There's one certainly on the minds of the DCU FO:

"They tell ya, move around
if you can't find work in your own town."

PS: Rank Quaranta's speed wherever you want in MLS, but he's still the fastest player on DCU.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | October 27, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I'll join those who would like to know how Payne considers missing the playoffs not a liability ...

He continues to show idealistic marketing and brand-building strategy that is totally irrelevant when it comes to picking a coach and GM that know what they are doing. Does he ask them in the interview "What formation looks better on TV 3-4-3 or 4-3-2-1? yeah, I like that Christmas tree one"

It's clear Payne has been given the reins, so let's hope he figures this out and rebuilds from the top, while keeping some of the parts that haven't been utilized. Namoff, Szetela, Wallace, Pontius, Jakovic, Cronin and Benny are the only untouchables for me.

Posted by: inzzo79 | October 27, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I hope the Payne message isn't "let's get back to South American soccer, with Moreno dribbling the ball outside the box for 10 minutes while the crowd shouts "Ole," but no one actually shoots the ball because that is too "Anglo-Saxon." Just win, baby.

Posted by: b18bolo | October 27, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Look. I like an attacking style of play. I love Arsenal. But you can not say DC United was executing on its attacking style of play when they only score 9 goals in their last 10 games. If you are going to be an attacking style club, you have to keep that pace up all season long.

The next problem I have noticed with both DC United and Arsenal (recently) is they can start off with a hard attacking style of game which puts a lot of pressure on the defense. Then as the game goes on, around the 60th minute or so they 'coast' and let the ball stay in their end, and have the defense clear harrowing ball after harrowing ball into the backfield.

Not only must you maintain your attacking style across the season, but you must maintain it across an entire game. Teams like Arsenal work when they keep the attacking pressure on, because the other team has to go into bunker mode to stop it, and that keeps it out of their end. The minute they slack off and play to hold onto the lead, they relinquish their primary strength and surrender momentum to the opponent.

Perhaps for DC United the problem here is conditioning and age. They can start off fine with a great attacking style, but the aging members of the team can not maintain that pace the whole game, and we sink. For this reason if we are to stick with an attacking style, we need to rebuild this team on youth and conditioning. We need to find guys who can go all out for 90 minutes and keep the pressure on.

You will note that the reason why Wenger does fine with an attacking style of play is his team is so young. The average age of his players is much lower than the rest of the league.

I think right now we need to go out and find some young, hungry, college coach to head up this squad. What about the coach for Maryland? What about the coach for Wake Forest? What would it take to lure them away?

We also need to take a hit for a year or two and get a whole new crop of young talented players and get the kind of coach that is going to make them gel into a cohesive unit. This is going to mean clearing the roster of long time favorites like Ben and Jaime, and finding young American stars rather than mining the South American leagues for aging talent. If you cant cut it for 90 min at full speed, you should not be on this squad except in a coaching capacity.

Posted by: Wiggan | October 27, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

So can we blame the Style Council for allowing the nude DCU photos?

I had no idea DCU was 2nd in scoring. The way we have been bashing Emilio et al you would think we had scored 25.

Posted by: Reignking | October 27, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Today's comments are exactly what I was referring to awhile back when I stated that DCU's tactics weren't all Soehn's fault (I might add that almost nobody agreed with me). KP has been on record with similar comments in the past. Today is not the first time. He wants his coaches stressing what he believes to be attractive soccer. Unfortunately, as another poster pointed out with the Caps example it doesn't always work due to the talent on the roster.

Posted by: blackandred777 | October 27, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

So can we blame the Style Council for allowing the nude DCU photos?

Posted by: Reignking | October 27, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

;) They were just so bizarre.......

Posted by: blackandred777 | October 27, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

You know what they call a team when the owner tries to micromanage it, including personnel decisions and style of play?

The Redskins.

Posted by: Reignking | October 27, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

@RK & anyone else: Does Payne still own 2% of the "operating rights".

I thought that Uncle Willy owned everything now??? Or did he just by out Vickie MC and the Dukies???

Posted by: yankiboy | October 27, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Payne really can't talk. We were not an attractive team to watch this season. It doesn't matter how many goals we scored this season most of them were ugly and we never scored consistently. Focus on getting the team better. Arsene Wenger has the right to criticize other teams not you.

Posted by: totalfootballer | October 27, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

DC's style is unorganized, uncreative and uncompetitive. Oh yeah, ugly also. What team have you been watching Payne. Cry me a river.

Posted by: TheDane1 | October 27, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Dang, y'all are so bitter. Somebody say something funny.

Posted by: JkR- | October 27, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the overall point KP made. Many league games I watch are painfully defensive.

I disagree with KP that this style preference led in any way to DC missing the playoffs. Lack of talent, questionable coaching decisions were more to blame.

I would not be happy making the playoffs eight years in a row playing like the Revs. How many championships have they won? How excruciating is it to watch them play? Please, Chicago, knock them out quickly.

Probably it was bad form for KP to name teams, but that's KP's style and isn't too much of a surprise.

Overall, I expect more negative soccer since the league is expanding so the playoff pressure will increase, and the talent level still needs to go up. The poor referee quality also allows more hacking and negative soccer, too.

Posted by: CDRHoek | October 27, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Dang, y'all are so bitter. Somebody say something funny.

Posted by: JkR-

That hurts! That's all I ever post.

Cmon, nude DCU photos! That's funny!

Posted by: Reignking | October 27, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

yanki: dunno...I'm a bit confused about that right now, too.

Posted by: Reignking | October 27, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, deflect blame for a crappy season by taking aim at the style of other teams. Having attended a number of colorado's home games, they played an enjoyable style until they lost most of their midfield to injury. Only toward the end of the season did they pack it in, mostly because they had no other real options. At least Colorado has a coach with a clue. I think Payne remains an idiot.

Posted by: hacksaw | October 27, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Just about all the posts above can be summed up in one 7-word response to Payne: "What have you done for us lately?"

Since the answer is, missed the playoffs two years in a row, I'm not really interested in how full the trophy case is. Newcastle has trophies. Sheffield Wednesday has trophies. Nottingham Forest has trophies. At this point, they would give anything to be in 14th place in the Premiership. Past successes do not excuse present failures.

Posted by: Kenobi | October 27, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Dang, y'all are so bitter. Somebody say something funny.
Posted by: JkR-

Why is 6 afraid of 7?
Because 7 ate 9.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | October 27, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

This is more of the same incredibly disengenuous nonsense that is the institutional hallmark of the DCU management. It starts with KP and when it slithers down the pole to the GM and head coach, it has devolved into an oozeball of dishonesty.

It's all about what happens so unfortunately to DCU with these people, not the incompetence or irresponsibility of those in charge who bring it upon the team themselves. Kasper has his head so far up KP's butt that he will actually keep his job in spite of his terrible personnel track record and his support of the head coach who but for Hudson would go down as the worst one in club history.

Posted by: lgm6986 | October 27, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Bring back Ray "Rocky" Hudson back as technico...DAMN THE TORPEDOES!

And for all of you EPL fans, style is a very important quality for ALL sports. You can get anyone off the street to play defense as long as they hustle. (see: 90's Knicks and basketball in general)Read about Cruff and learn about "the beautiful" game. Go see "the damned united"...

EPL might win a lot of euro trash tournaments but even Chelsea resorted to playing back against Barca. And it hurt them in the end. From top to bottom, La Liga and Bundesliga are a more competitive league and more entertaining. Sorry, EPL english speaking amercians, but a 1-0 or 0-0 draw is not entertaing. Don't get me wrong, the EPL top five or six teams are as good if not better than anyone in the world, and i love watching them play, it just gets old after a while. and so does MLS. Too much expansion has hurt all of the sports.

Posted by: boricuabopper | October 27, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

My perception is that you faced the same problem we faced in Seattle- many teams coming onto your pitch come in with the mindset of "we'll be happy with the draw"- and they played that way.

In many ways, I have enjoyed watching our games on the road, where both the home team and the Sounders were playing to win, more than I have some of the home games.

Other issues aside, I believe you'll enjoy the Whitecaps and the Timbers as they come into the league- the Northwest is just not into "hunkering down" and we come with a knowledgeable fan base. And as teams- and fans- learn that hunkering down for draws doesn't get you to the play-offs (or very far into the play-offs), maybe we'll see more aggressive play across the league. After all, if aggressive play gets you a win and a loss, while hunkering down buys two draws, who's ahead at the end of the day?

We have collective amnesia in Puget Sound Country, and only remember the last two games we played- on your pitch. We've blocked out the second half of the first game, on our pitch, where United most definitely played aggressively to the end.

And while having our clock cleaned in a friendly, we saw the beautiful game at its best with Barcelona's visit. Such should be our goal- someday.

Posted by: captainwierd | October 27, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I find myself highly disconcerted by Payne's comments today, both about Soehn's status and the "style of play."

Soehn is incompetent and unqualified. His "evolution" has been to take DC United from championship contender to bottom feeder. He must go. If he is rehired I will not be seen anywhere near RFK next season.

Style of play - it's ridiculous to even talk about this. DC United this year committed the cardinal sin of being both bad AND boring. That said, getting results and competing for championships takes precedence. Besides it is possible to play a defensive game and win through superior organization, picking your spots, letting the ball do the work, etc. and that can be just as pretty to a true student of the game as attack, attack, attack. The latter seems more of a pandering to the typical American sports fan that wants to see the scoreboard light up every couple of seconds.

I guess what it all really comes down to is maximizing the abilities of the players you have and getting the most out of them. NE has done that by playing the style that bests suits its players' skill sets. The same cannot be said for DC United, and that brings me back to Soehn. It was up to him to bring the most of out the players he had and squeeze results out somehow. It may well be that the team couldn't have done much better than it did this season, but just a little bit better would have put us in the postseason, would have moved us on in CCL. That is a failing of the coach. He must go.

Posted by: cmjhawk86 | October 27, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I generally agree with Kevin. Attacking, creative, possession based soccer is more fun to watch. I'd rather watch our attempts to do that well and _just_ miss the playoffs than play a style that isn't so exciting. If Kevin helps bring the right players and coach to play this way... I say "awesome"!

Posted by: WorldCup | October 27, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Revs' supporter and they've been dreadful to watch this year. In fact, 2005 was really the only year when I can honestly say they were really exciting to watch (and bits and pieces of the following two years).

New England and Colorado play very differently but are bothing boring. NE is short possession soccer but without any flair or creativity and they don't use their speed on the flanks well. Colorado is a typical boring long ball English-style team.

Objectively, I'd rather watch DC, Columbus or LA.

Posted by: saabrian | October 27, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Can we have a post entitled 'The Jam'?

You might say, we're in one. One of my all-time fave bands.

Posted by: KireDCU | October 27, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I have no idea why payne thinks dc united plays stylish soccer. Look at Arsenal, thats stylish soccer. Even when they havent won a trophy in a couple years they have the ability to break down defenses. Efficiency is stylish. Efficiency is what makes Arsenal one of the best teams. Man United is efficient in their own way which makes them enjoyable to watch. DC United cannot break down any defense at the moment. If teams bunker down then DC should have most of the possession which they don't have in many of the games. When goals are scored the games should open up. What happened when the games opened up this season? We surely didn't score more goals we lost the lead most of the time. Its one thing if you finish 2nd or 3rd or 4th and blame other teams for bunkering. You can drop points because other teams bunker, its unlucky. The DCU teams that one the supporters shield and lost in the playoffs were a bit unlucky, it happens. But if you are finishing near to last in a league then you cannot blame other teams for trying to put themselves in the best position to get points. Its been said on this bored that MLS is a close league. There no free points. So tactical adjustments are even more critical. I would love for DCU to approach game with an attacking mentality, but you have to adjust to different circumstances. If you just throw your hands up and say your out of ideas, well then why do you have a coach or manager on the field? For the sole purpose of screaming at the players? Trust me the players will get on their own asses if their playing bad. They're professionals.

Posted by: totalfootballer | October 27, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

*board sorry

Posted by: totalfootballer | October 27, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

More proof, as if any were needed, that Kevin Payne simply does not what he is talking about. His comments display a wholly superficial knowledge of soccer generally, of how to win soccer games, of fan behavior, of the US market for soccer....

We can only hope that will Chang is enough of a businessman to recognize piffle and rubbish when he hears it and replaces with Payne with a competent senior executive.

Posted by: Jphubba | October 27, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Payne...

The problem with DC wasn't that they were too attacking is that they were not good enough at it.

I am a big MLS fan, but I cannot watch games with

And I have never understood the 10-men behind the ball strategy on the road. If you attack and manage to win every third game you are in better shape, points wise, than if you tie two of three.

Posted by: teo_68 | October 27, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Wow Mr. Payne.

Agreed with the attacking soccer being a nice thing to have talk, but never heard it used as an excuse before. Now that's just some serious weak sauce.

Look if you don't have anything constructive to say, you know like "well our team couldn't get it done, AGAIN (possibly because they are no where near the elites of the league) then please do not add insult to our injury with those kinds of statements. Allow us to heal from this stinging reality without having to hear that kind of talk. You want to talk? Tell us how you are going to fix this instead of calling out the other guys who outflanked you in 2 competitions this year.

Posted by: Kosh2 | October 27, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

More proof, as if any were needed, that Kevin Payne simply does not what he is talking about. His comments display a wholly superficial knowledge of soccer generally, of how to win soccer games, of fan behavior, of the US market for soccer....

We can only hope that will Chang is enough of a businessman to recognize piffle and rubbish when he hears it and replaces with Payne with a competent senior executive.

Posted by: Jphubba | October 27, 2009 12:32 PM


Wow. Fail.

Posted by: JkR- | October 27, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Hey Fonz, wanna go waterski? Just watch out for the shark.

Posted by: FatSickBoot | October 27, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

What a Payne in the a**!!!

Posted by: fedster | October 27, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse


Your point about teams trying to force things is a good one. That's what will happen as long as MLS is around this level, though. We have a league where most players are only able to see or think of one way to approach the situation in front of them. It doesn't matter if that plan's short-term success (say, going past your man with speed) will lead to medium-term failure (beyond that first man is another well-positioned defender who, as you go past guy #1, is already in place to take the ball with minimum fuss). While certain teams have a style, many teams (San Jose, KC when things go poorly, and NY are all great examples) seem unsure of what to do. When they have the ball, it's attack attack attack. When they lose it, it's park the bus. There's a lack of balance that comes from having so many players with lower soccer IQs.


I don't know. How's the food there? What kind of beer selection are we talking?

I definitely don't like the approach Clarke's Islanders play, but if I was an Islanders fan I would be fully in support of it (for the CCL). Your fellow fans that want Clarke out are nuts. It's obviously the only way they had any hope of getting results. I'm never going to like it, but who cares what I like?


Goals scored and style of play are two very different things. Ever watch Sam Allardyce's teams win 3-2? It happens. It's hideous.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | October 27, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

@boricuabopper: Get over the style thing and support Puerto Rico Islanders. You can bring the style. :D

Posted by: yankiboy | October 27, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

@Chest_Rockthebells: Sorry but the food ain't nothing gonna get a glowing Zagat review.

I'm on the wagon so I can't tell you about the beer selection--I think that it is pretty basic.

As far as the Islanders fans who want Colin Clarke fired--with all due respect to my brothers and sisters, I find it it is borderline hilarious. Sometimes it seems like the guy gets ripped to shreds on our supporter sites then he gets any props. Seriously, "Clarke afuera **** ** ***** cracks me the heck up!" I guess that's the price for overachieving, playing "ugly" with an economically challeneged second division team that is only 5 years old. Where is the firing squad when you need one.

Posted by: yankiboy | October 27, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Can we have a post entitled 'The Jam'?

You might say, we're in one. One of my all-time fave bands.

Posted by: KireDCU
hey KireDCU: Apparently the legendary Joe Strummer (RIP) didn't agree with you:

White Man In Hammersmith Palais

"Punk rockers in the uk
They wont notice anyway
Theyre all too busy fighting
For a good place under the lighting

The new groups are not concerned
With what there is to be learned
They got burton suits, ha you think its funny

Turning rebellion into money"

Best example of a pre hip hop dis on wax as you can find.

(For what it's worth, I like some Jam stuff, as well but I will take the Clash over them any day of the week)

Posted by: yankiboy | October 27, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Ok first off, Payne makes it sound like it's easier to get results if you play defensive/counter-attacking soccer. It's not. Attacking soccer is not only easy on the eyes, it produces results. If you're gonna preach it, you gotta believe it blood and bones.

But my second point is this, we didn't play an attractive attacking style this season. Or any season under Soehn. There have been periods of time where we might string 4 or 5 games together and look like a formidable team, but never consistently. Not under Soehn.

So if you really are committed to playing at attacking brand of football, you gotta put your money where your mouth is. Get a coach who can get everybody on the same page, and instill some discipline. Get a striker with some touch or else get guys who can provide Luci with some service. Get somebody who can score reliably from 30 out when left alone. And get a number 10 who can run box to box for 90 minutes and still dictate play.

That simple.

Posted by: Matte | October 27, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

He's absolutely right -- 90% of MLS games are mind-numbing and not worth watching. Unfortunately, a number of DC United games the last couple of years fall into that group. The talent isn't there to play quality exciting soccer. In the EPL and La Liga, they make chances from nothing, with brilliant through passes and crosses -- along with shots and crosses that are actually on target. Not in MLS.

Posted by: fischy | October 27, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

I don't well recall the RSL game at RFK, but glancing at the stats doesn't exactly spell congruency with Mr. Payne's statement.

DCU: 8 RSL: 14

Shots on Goal:
DCU: 1 RSL: 8

This is a pretty big discrepancy in shots unless one team is playing conservatively and one is playing aggressively. The problem is that based on the stats alone, it would appear that DC was playing more conservatively than RSL.

I don't doubt that RSL played less aggressively than they do at home, but the quantity and quality of their shots that game from a stats perspective make DCU's efforts look pretty pitiful.

Posted by: Soccerman3 | October 28, 2009 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Come on MR payne no more excuses realsalt lake and new england made the playoffs you know something for two years my wife and I were half season tickets holders(2007 2008)we did not renew in 2009 because you decided it to keep tom sohen and we made clear to the managment why we were not renewing and we will not do it until you guys decide to fire this loosing coach,I love soccer(futbol) please do something MR Payne.

Posted by: jamaya2275gmailcom | October 29, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm amused that Payne's getting shredded for making the exact same comments that so many on here have made so often: A significant portion of MLS play ugly defensive soccer. Colorado and NE are clearly part of that trend. Non-American friends of mine also accuse the USMNT of the same thing, again with some justice. The RLS game was perhaps not the best exemplar but it doesn't change the overarching point, but most of our shots in that game were not on target, which skews the stats for a 0-0 tie.

So why are we up in arms about this?

It seems because Insiders don't see an "attacking style" as reason for our losses this season. And fair enough--we've hashed and rehashed reasons that WE think are the problem from our limited viewpoint.

Tentatively, I will suggest that Payne MIGHT know a little more about DCU than even us devoted fans. Further, I might even suggest that the underlying reasons that we've stuck with certain players and playing styles that have caused our defeats (as Insiders have so declared) are a strong commitment to an attacking style. I don't necessarily find it 100% convincing, but the comments here are just ridiculous.

Posted by: vivzig | October 29, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Just so ripe for lambasting, thanks Goffer for not leaving the recorder on pause! Kevin Payne and D.C. E.U.nited quickly becoming the Uruguay of MLS... 1950 anyone?

Posted by: EmpireEnder | October 30, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

i agree that attacking soccer is more fun to watch, but defensive soccer CAN be beautiful too. the problem is, in the mls, people think fouling is the only way to play defense. if the mls would get serious about getting some decent officials, ones who would actually call the fouls and hacks, it would force many teams that foul instead of play defense, to actually go out and learn how soccer is actually played. thus, resulting in better overall play.
i'm just glad i live in seattle, where our local football club is dedicated to QUALITY footy.

Posted by: carella211 | November 2, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

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