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United Rewind

Back from RFK. Could you believe the traffic getting out of there? Kidding.

The 5-1 scoreline was indicative of the match mismatch.

Jabloteh had Elton "Rocket Man" John at right back and Cleon John in goal. United was without Avery John because of yellow cards. No sign of former MLSers Stern John and Will John, but rookie George John was helping FC Dallas to a 1-0 victory over New England.

With DCU's triumph, here are how things stand: If Marathon loses Thursday night at home against Toluca (10 p.m. ET, Galavision), United is headed to next spring's quarterfinals. If Marathon ties, United is probably going to need a draw at Toluca on Oct. 20 because the Hondurans' finale is against Jabloteh. If Marathon beats Toluca, United is in trouble, for it will probably need to win in Mexico -- and as we know, no American teams win in Mexico. Ever. So maybe Toluca will put an end to it Thursday and perhaps clear the way for 18-year-old keeper Bill Hamid to make his DCU debut in the meaningless group finale.

Quote of the Day: Boyzzz Khumalo, on scoring the final goal with a superbly struck, left-footed shot from 22 yards.....

"I just want to dedicate it to my mom because she said I couldn't score with my left foot."

Emilio (rest), Olsen (rest), Quaranta (quadriceps), Moreno (red card), Jakovic (yellow cards) and John (yellow cards) didn't play and presumably will be fully fit for Saturday's critical league match against Chivas USA.

Read my match report.

PLAYER RATINGS
Kocic 7; Habarugira 6, McTavish 7, James 7, Wallace 8; Khumalo 7.5, Simms 7, Jacobson 6, Fred 7; Gomez 8, Pontius 7. Subs: Szetela 6, Shipalane 6, Burch 6.


By Steve Goff  |  October 1, 2009; 1:13 AM ET
Categories:  CONCACAF Champions League , D.C. United  
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Next: Thursday Kickaround

Comments

Really, Szetela only receives a 6? Did performed very well on the ball, made wise passes and was far better than Burch who looked to be at fault for the SJJ goal.

Posted by: decoi | October 1, 2009 1:21 AM | Report abuse

I emphasize after tonight's match:

What has Gomez done to earn the position as substitute for regular league matches over the final stretch? I think he deserves more than 15 minutes (as displayed in recent games) with our MLS season riding on the line.

Posted by: redskinsux | October 1, 2009 1:24 AM | Report abuse

Not sure what game you're referring to. Szetela looked extremely rusty, and committed a stupid, ugly foul which he was kucky to get away with. Szetela did do well with the coach's instructions to hold the ball and play safe.

As for the SJJ goal, it was a successful offside trap that was not called by the AR, so I don't get why you would pin that on a player doing his job. You want to rag on Burch, talk about his 35 yard moon shot when he had Gomez wide open on the left wing, while the team was trying to keep possession.

Great strike from Khumalo to close the scoring. Nice to see him finally beat a GK.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | October 1, 2009 1:29 AM | Report abuse

Only thing I can think of, based on appearances, is that Gómez ate his way off the field. But even so, no one on the team can match his vision, skill, and calm on the ball. The team NEEDS him on the field, more than anyone else. Which is why I was a bit sad to see him go the full 90 (not that subbing for Pontius, Simms, and James wasn't smart) -- bodes ill for him seeing action Saturday.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | October 1, 2009 1:35 AM | Report abuse

Where has this Gomez been all season?

Posted by: isaac101 | September 30, 2009 8:52 PM
----------------------------------------------------

On the bench, largely ignored, or used out of position. I'd note that even in this match, he was overlooked a lot. He was crying out for the ball for much of the last 20 minutes, looking for his hat-trick -- Any number of times, he was in position to receive a pass, or chase down a ball over the defense, when scoring would have been a simple matter if the ball had come his way. The good news out of this game is he might be ready to carry this team into the playoffs, if they're willing to give him the chance.

Khumalo's shot was a thing of beauty, the way it bent back inside the post. He also seemed to be more in his element in this game than at any other time this year -- at least since his late sub in the game in New Jersey. Maybe it was the opposition, maybe it was Gomez and Jacobson finding him with their passes, or maybe he's figured out how to play in this system.

Posted by: fischy | October 1, 2009 1:44 AM | Report abuse

Nice to see that Wallace can offer up some good service, when he isn't as tightly marked as he is in MLS games.

Anyone who thinks this game was meaningful should not only look at the way DCU followed up the Marathon game with the late collapse against the Earthquakes. They should also take a look at any of the top 20 NCAA Div I teams, any one of which would have given DCU a better game....

Posted by: fischy | October 1, 2009 1:52 AM | Report abuse

Not sure what game you're referring to. Szetela looked extremely rusty, and committed a stupid, ugly foul which he was kucky to get away with..

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | October 1, 2009 1:29 AM
_____________________________________________

Are you talking about the one near the halfway line where he pulled the guy by his shirt? I disagree, that was a smart 'ben olsen' move, aka a professional foul that wouldnt have won him a yellow, but instead stopped their run of play as if he didnt do that, he'd have a full lane in front of him to pass/shoot on goal.

That move IMO showed me how really 'smart' he was soccer wise. He learned a thing or 2 in italy.

Where has this Gomez been all season?

Posted by: isaac101 | September 30, 2009 8:52 PM
----------------------------------------------------

I think Gomez fianlly showed tommy that he is not as 'old' as he thinks he is or over the hill. He can still work well, but he needs a good effort by those around him too, he cant do his runs and goals through the middle of defenses anymore like he did before in teh past.

He can still shoot, and pass, but his speed isnt quite the same anymore. I want to see moreno and gomez on the field one more time, and then if they really have both lost their magic when together, then leave it as one or the other on the field at a time.

Posted by: BolivianDCFan | October 1, 2009 1:58 AM | Report abuse

@BolivianDCfan:

No, I'm talking about when Szetela responded to a late challenge from a SJJ player by intentionally kneeing him in the center of the thigh after the play. I have no issue with the professional foul; the play I'm referring to was just the opposite. Szetela even felt guilty; he waved for play to stop and the SJJ player was carted off.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | October 1, 2009 2:15 AM | Report abuse

Signing in from my mom's computer in
Hawaii...
Exactly the news I was hoping for. Thank you. I'll be up early... well lunch time for a lot of you folks to really figure out what went on while we were soaring at 30K for 10 hours...
Aloha and Vamos United!

Posted by: DadRyan | October 1, 2009 2:19 AM | Report abuse

redskinsux:

Gomez had a couple games where he was a little flat and seemed to wander too much positionally. Once we went to 442 full time, he went from being the only real fit at his position to one of several withdrawn forwards (we're just too weak defensively to get away with playing him as a midfielder).

For what it's worth, I think we have a better chance with him starting and Moreno coming in off the bench right now. However, with him going 90 tonight, it seems unlikely that he'll start against Chivas, so hopefully Moreno can step up and dominate like he did against Dallas early in the year.

Godfather_of_Goals:

Szetela didn't look "extremely rusty" to me. Actually, I thought he did a nice job of keeping the ball (only one giveaway by my count, and that was immediately fixed by a Habarugira tackle) and generally maintaining a rhythm to our play. For me, it was important to see him play his natural position and look like he belongs here, and he did that. In my book, he earned the 6 SG gave him.

fischy:

While Khumalo did play a good game overall, I think it has to be noted that he didn't start well. Several times he made the wrong decision and either slowed or killed an attack by cutting back at the wrong time or not making a needed run. Up until he scored, he was the one player I found disappointing. However, once he got his goal, he improved considerably.

***

Personally, I was expecting this game to resemble our early USOC games, where despite playing a clearly low-level team we'd struggle before scratching out a one-goal win. Instead, we scored early, we scored often, and we gave them no early reason to feel anything resembling hope. Even if I'd have gladly used tonight's ruthlessness on Sunday instead, it's good to know we can at least do it rather than the normal pattern of allowing bad teams to hang in with us.

Contrast our first half here against what we did against San Jose. In both games, we ran circles around them in the first half. San Jose came out somehow 1-0 down, and their fightback ended with a goal. San Juan were already pretty much dead at 3-0, and their fightback only garnered 2 chances. Obviously San Jose is better than Jabloteh, but the fact is that we embarrassed both teams in the first half. You do that to someone and leave them at only 1-0, and they feel like they're playing with house money.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | October 1, 2009 5:07 AM | Report abuse

Glad that United rewarded my attendance with a dominating performance last night. As noted by others, Gomez had a particularly good game, which I was very happy to see. Makes one wonder if he'll be around next year after DCU undoubtedly drops Emilio. Wallace looked good at left back, his "natural" (?) position. I agree (as usual) with everything Mr. Rockwell states above.

PS: How great are those highlights and soundtrack.

Posted by: Truck | October 1, 2009 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to amateurish research, DC have scored as many goals in 2 home CCL matches as they have in 9 home domestic matches in all competitions (including the Real friendly).

Posted by: Section117 | October 1, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Thanks DCU for the free ticket.

Now for the game.... Wallace should remain at left back and Marc (Give up a Goal a Game) Burch should find a nice seat on the bench. What a difference, skill, speed and some soccer IQ about playing defense. Hamburguesa -- I'm still not sold on him, he looked tentative most of the night.

Pontius playing as lone target forward did everything Emilio doesn't. Worked hard, ran into space to open lanes for other players and demonstrated skill and touch. His pass to Fred was very nice and something Luci might get right 50% of the time. Pontius helped raise Gomez's game and actually made Fred look effective.

And I agree that Szetela looked good for someone with little game time recently. He has touch and vision and paired very well with Jacobson.

Finally, McTavish looked very strong in central defense, I just don't get why Tommy doesn't have him as part of the defensive rotation. But alot of things Tommy does mystify me.

Posted by: griffin1108 | October 1, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Wallace was outstanding. He should become the fixture at left back.

Posted by: granadoskerry | October 1, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Welcome back Boyzzz.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | October 1, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Come on, folks. From what happened last night, you can't conclude that Gomez played great. You can't conclude that Szetela looked good. You can't conclude that Wallace was outstanding. Instead, what happened was that we played a team last night that couldn't have beaten a halfway decent side from the WISL. They were beyond horrible, the worst side DCU has played in the last decade. Of course we looked good against them; but no halfway decent team will allow players the time and space that we had last night. You can't draw real conclusions from that game.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | October 1, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

The problem with Gomez is the same as with Moreno (to a lesser degree): you never know who is going to show up for the game: an old-timer, flat and slow, or a brilliant player, sharp and making a difference. There is no doubt whatsoever, that when Gomez and Moreno are in their current best (I am not even asking for their prime best) - we are a much better team, perfectly capable of dispatching anybody in MLS.

James is growing on me. Good work.

Wallace was a menace. His best impersonation of DMB. Is his immigration status any better?


The best thing I loved about Khumalo yesterday is that he enjoyed every moment of it: his smile, energy, good shots, smart moves. Will we have more of that?

Posted by: Tolik | October 1, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

griffin1108:

Good points all around and certainly about Pontius, it was refreshing to watch a forward actually trap the ball within 5 feet of their body. Though I have to disagree somewhat about Hamburguesa, it seems to still need a lot of polish but he has skill & speed, evidence by the fact that he almost deflect the pass that resulted in the goal, surprised Soehn has started him as a forward ;-} Amazing how players starting in their natural positions actually perform well.

Posted by: SoehntheExit | October 1, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Christopher,

Maybe so. However, the way this year has gone any positive performance is a good performance. As Chest accurately pointed out, DCU has typically played down to the level of their competition this year. Frankly, a NCSL team would make me nervous this year. However, last night they ripped their opponents heart out.

Posted by: croftonpost | October 1, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

The one thing that I saw and impressed me, was the fact that DC actually ran at the defenders, with the ball, instead of the traditional "immediate pass back".

I saw Gomez do it quite a few times and Shipalane did it as well, which lead to the 5th goal.

A solid performance all around, I thought.

That being said, I thought, as usual, that ref was absolutely horrible. But that's just me the anti ref. :)

Posted by: dogboy | October 1, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

A goal for every fan there!

Please get rid of the CCL group stage nonsense.

Posted by: Kev29 | October 1, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Oh, NO! No! No!

You can't give ratings like this against a pathetic team like Jaboleth. This is the equavalent of men thinking they are really tall when they pee at the little boys urinal.

Posted by: Ruthie1 | October 1, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I would start this lineup against chivas

Emilio
Gomez
Pontius khumalo
Quaranta
Simms
Wallace Vaughan
Jackovic James
Kocic

I would tell Pontius and khumalo that there main goal in the game is set up cross for emilio and take players on in there corners.

Gomez can be a floater, while santino can control the flow of the game, and give us back and forth running.

Posted by: Norteno4life | October 1, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

dogboy: we ran at defenders because they gave us an enormous amount of space. A halfway decent team would have been harder, and thus more intimidating, to run at. Ruthie1 has it right.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | October 1, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I thought Jacobson was very good last night, and I am not usually his biggest fan. He had a lot of efficient touches on the ball and several intelligent passes. This is two games in a row where he has played well in my opinion.

On the other end of the spectrum was Fred; not sure why Goff gave him a 7 - I thought he absolutely stunk. Way too many giveaways and didn't do much with the acres of space he was given. Sure, good goal, but professionals should score from that position 9 times out of 10. I thought he was the only DCU player who didn't play well.

Posted by: jsm91 | October 1, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I would say that Jacobson was pretty good on the ball. His defense is still another matter. He is, to be blunt, a fouling machine. It's one thing to play tight and tough, it's another to rely on fouling as your modus operandi. He gets a card in almost every game. Similarly, I wasn't too impressed with Szetela's blatant jersey pull to try and stop his man in midfield. Sometimes, in the professional game, you do have to do that. If being in that position becomes a "habit", then you're not reading the game well enough, or not reacting quickly.

Still, the two least effective players last night were Fred and Burch. Fred repeatedly coughed up the ball either because he held it too long, or because he wasn't able to hold it when he needed to do so in the box. Burch looked shaky on defense, and he took a ridiculous shot from way outside, with several teammates waiting for a pass from him to send them through the SJ back line. He's playing himself out of the starting lineup...assuming there's someone other than Fred to play on the left wing.

Posted by: fischy | October 1, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

jsm91 -- cue your DVR up to the 64:14 mark in the game. Fred made an individual play there that was the best moment of skill I've seen any DCU player pull, all year. Of course, it helped who the opposing team was. Fred ran alternately hot and cold last night. Some of his giveaways were atrocious; but he also had moments where he looked better than anyone else out there, including Gomez.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | October 1, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

re: "Come on, folks. From what happened last night, you can't conclude that Gomez played great. You can't conclude that Szetela looked good. You can't conclude that Wallace was outstanding. Instead, what happened was that we played a team last night that couldn't have beaten a halfway decent side from the WISL. They were beyond horrible, the worst side DCU has played in the last decade. Of course we looked good against them; but no halfway decent team will allow players the time and space that we had last night. You can't draw real conclusions from that game.


Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | October 1, 2009 8:50 AM "

This post was so spot-on and so well stated I had to quote in its entirety.
CAM, hats off to you.

SJJ was HORRIBLE. The TERPS would have pasted these statuesque ball-watchers 3-1 and hardly broken a sweat. SJJ is the only team I have seen all year that is visibly slower than DC United. I didn't think such was possible, but hey if you scrape the bottom of the barrell long enough you find a team as slow as SJJ.

Look I am glad DCU finaly won a game but wow SJJ was nothing more than training fodder -- training fodder DCU doesn't need right now, because we need to figure out how to avoid getting our heads handed to us by good teams like Chivas.

Posted by: Ron16 | October 1, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

christopher_a_metzler:

I beg to differ. You can draw conclusions from every game. There was a lot to chew on from last night's game, whether or not San Juan was awful. I submit that they were no worse than, say, Rochester in last year's USOC, but the difference is that we put them to the sword early, took away any confidence or belief they had, and then took advantage of playing a mentally beaten opponent. Against other bad teams, we tend to give them several reasons to believe they have a chance when on paper a 5-1 result should be expected.

As griffin1108 points out, we saw what Pontius can do leading the line (rather than playing off Emilio). We also saw Wallace at left back figuring out quickly that he would be able to dominate his flank, and also take full advantage of that fact. For a young player, that's important. After halftime, I noticed that Jabloteh moved Marcano (their lone forward in the 1st half) to right midfield because Britto (in his #32 shirt that clearly had been incorrectly numbered and required an Adidas font #3) was totally anonymous on either side of the ball. It still didn't help them, but any time your outside back is causing a tactical switch for your opponent, he's doing well.

Obviously we don't want to let the result lead us to believe that we're brilliant and every game will be a cakewalk, but we would be just as foolish to ignore some of the things we learned about ourselves here. I would treat this game like an intersquad game; not with the same weight as a league game, but certainly not worthless either.

fischy:

I agree about Jacobson. He is still not quite thinking fast enough. I also can't help but wonder if this is something he picked up at Lorient (Ligue 1 is a league that overvalues physicality and toughness). There's a time for that, but I don't think he knows enough yet to figure one when that time is.

Szetela's foul struck me as retaliatory. Jamerson essentially slapped him in the back of the head moments after he came in and got away with it, and Szetela was not pleased about it for the rest of the game. You'd hope he could relax in the context of this being a blowout, but he's still just 22 so I guess immaturity can still come up.

As for Burch's long shot, my first thought was that he wanted to test his ankle out by crushing the ball. Yes, he absolutely should have made the pass (and just tested his foot out after the game), but if ever there was a time for silly self-indulgence, that was it.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | October 1, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I agree with metzler and ron16 -- SJJ looks pretty slow in the highlights. Not too hard to look good against a team like that. Glad we won it, and I like Gomez, but that doesn't mean Gomez is necessarily going to do that well against MLS teams.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | October 1, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

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