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United Rewind

Seven months have brought us to this: A four-way tie for eighth place, six seven teams in the running for three playoff slots, the Eastern Conference's second automatic berth still up for grabs ... and a second straight season in which D.C. United goes into the finale needing a road victory to advance.

Late tonight, the DCU communications staff was attempting to figure out all the permutations. Good luck, gents.

Chicago (42 points) vs. Chivas USA, Thursday
DCU (39) at Kansas City, Saturday
Toronto (39) at New York, Saturday
Colorado (40) at Real Salt Lake (37), Saturday
Dallas (39) at Seattle, Saturday
New England (39) at Columbus, Sunday

Read my match report with quotes.

Watch the video highlights.

Cronin 8; Jakovic 7.5, James 7, Burch 6.5; McTavish 5, Jacobson 5, Simms 5, Gomez 5, Wallace 7; Khumalo 7, Emilio 7. Subs: Moreno 5, Vaughn 6, Szetela 6.

By Steve Goff  |  October 18, 2009; 12:28 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Matchnight #29: United-Crew
Next: Sunderland's Assist


Down to the wire again. Thanks Steve.

Posted by: DadRyan | October 18, 2009 12:38 AM | Report abuse

That was one seriously cold and wet game, but the win made up for it even if Columbus rested some of its key starters.

Posted by: Juan-John | October 18, 2009 12:54 AM | Report abuse

Dcu wins and I'm finally kicking that dag-gone Swine Flu. What a glorious day.

And to quote C. Montgomery Burns, "Oh what glorious goo."

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | October 18, 2009 1:17 AM | Report abuse

DCU's average attendance is down approximately 4,000 per game with respect to last year. Very troublesome. Very troublesome indeed. Not exactly going to help with the stadium efforts.

Posted by: croftonpost | October 18, 2009 1:51 AM | Report abuse

Those ratings are way too high. We sucked tonight and just got really lucky.

Cronin 6.5; Jakovic 6.5, James 7, Burch 5.5; McTavish 4, Jacobson 5, Simms 5, Gomez 4, Wallace 5; Khumalo 5, Emilio 5. Subs: Moreno 6.5, Vaughn 6, Szetela 5.

Posted by: GoUnited | October 18, 2009 2:09 AM | Report abuse

I'm surprised at the high rating for Khumalo. Notwithstanding his assist, I thought he strugged at forward, and when he shifted to wing he was flat-out awful. Three times in succession, he released Rodney Rogers to run up the line alone while he watched Lawson Vaughn covering another Crew player with the ball near the touchline, resulting in a pass up the line that had Rogers in alone with the ball. Three times. On the third, I screamed at Tommy from across the field, "He doesn't know how to play defense, get him out of there." Fortunately, Tommy saw the same thing; Szetela came in for Khumalo 30 seconds later.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | October 18, 2009 2:48 AM | Report abuse

We got our ass kicked for the last 60 minutes. Not sure anyone other than James, Jakovic and Cronin deserved more than a 5.

DC played their asses off...we just got wacked...everywhere but the one place that counts...the scoreboard.

We just aren't a very good team....hate to say it...

Oh..and please sign

Posted by: matthewjfyoungs | October 18, 2009 4:48 AM | Report abuse

@croftonpost I hear you on the attendance figures, but I wonder how significant the average decrease is if you remove last year's home Galaxy match in calculating last year's average.

I think this year we saw that the Beckham novelty wore off, but last year as I recall we nearly has a sellout.

Vamos United!

Posted by: billindmd | October 18, 2009 4:52 AM | Report abuse

It took Soehn almost until the last game to figure out that it all starts with proper goalkeeping...

Posted by: alan19 | October 18, 2009 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Good win.

Cronin's a keeper and should be signed at all costs. Amazing what simple competence will do for a backline.

Moreno was awesome, as usual.

I still think Soehn should go. The 3-5-2 left far too much width open to the Crew and normally we would have been buried. Where were the wing mids?

Nice goal by Luci. He's a keeper for me too.

I was surprised how poorly Szetela played. It doesn't seem he has a fire in his belly to make this team.

Posted by: RRP1 | October 18, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Look how much more confidence our defense has with a capable keeper behind them. Now about that attack... you know, those positions that all our stars supposedly play.

Oh, and can we all finally agree that Doghouse Danny needs to be on the field more?

Posted by: spata2 | October 18, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

What struggles this team has had at GK. We'll see if Cronin is a long-term solution. I imagine there would be a transfer fee involved. And don't forget--Crayton started strong for us (as did Janicki last year). So much has to do with a player's confidence and Cronin is coming off a year when he kicked butt (and last year his confidence sagged and he was beaten out by Josh Wicks!).

I don't blame Soehn for starting a 3-5-2 this match. One of the points that I made when we first re-acquired Gomez and people were talking about what a salvation that would be was that Christian--for all his strengths--really needs to be in a 3-5-2 to be successful. He needs ball winners and defenders. He needs guys who cover a lot of ground. So, either you have Shalrie Joseph at D-mid (ie: a human vacuum cleaner) in a diamond, or you play with 2 central mids behind Christian in a 3-5-2 or you play a box midfield and sacrifice width. It's really that simple. Regardless of the coach, the surrounding personnel, the season, we've seen EVERY year that Gomez doesn't have the legs to continuously cover a lot of ground, he's not a defender or ball-winner, he's at his best when he's playing almost as a withdrawn forward (and that was even in his prime). So our dilemma is this: our team plays best in a 4-4-2 but the straw that stirs the drink plays best in a 3-5-2.

And if this was "getting lucky" than I'll take it. Personally, I consider it a small does of payback. We've outplayed Columbus at least twice this season and lost points with them. But they're probably the best team in MLS--and when you're a good team you find ways to win and you exploit small errors to grab the points left on the table for you.

Posted by: JoeW1 | October 18, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

And all four teams tied for eighth are on the road for the final match.

Of the three teams that could pull level on points with Chicago, D.C. may have the least unlikely shot at pulling closer on goal differential (currently -1 to Chicago's +4), assuming that's the tiebreaker.

Posted by: notabbott | October 18, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Okay, first tiebreaker is NOT goal differential.

Posted by: notabbott | October 18, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

wow, talk about grade inflation! Other than the goal we were pretty bad all night against Columbus reserves. I will agree Cronin looked pretty good for the most part but some of those punches went right up the middle barely outside the penalty area.

I don't understand why Vaughn was put out there. He didn't add much and is still a liability.

Szetela was wide open out on the wing most of the time but Moreno and Luci didn't even look in his direction more than a very few times. That said when Danny had the ball he didn't exactly inspire a lot of confidence.

It's a win against the first place team, but I am not sure we, or any of those teams tied for 8th really deserves to be in the playoffs.

Toronto still has the easiest road against the last place team in the league.

Posted by: fedssocr | October 18, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

As much flak as MLS's administration gets for lots of decisions they make, I've got to hand it to them on the changes they made in determining playoff slots. This change, with the addition of a couple of teams, has made the end of the season more interesting.

Posted by: DrBeaker | October 18, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure about lucky, I think the team just stepped it up last night. Factoring in the weather and the opponent, I was very happy with how the team played. And if we're saying it was Columbus' reserves, let's not forget we were without Olsen, Namoff, Tino and Wicks.

In general the D looked great (mainly Jakovic, Burch (yes, Burch!) and James), the midfield struggled with the pitch and Columbus' great one touch work. Up top? Well, I think Emilio and Boyzzz didn't have the best games. I know, they did combine for a goal.

For the potentially last game at RFK this year, I walked away happy with what I saw. Freezing and wet, but happy.

Posted by: eadc | October 18, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

RSL vs Colorado will be a good game to watch next week.

So now its onto Toluca...

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | October 18, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

All but Chicago in away matches (I honestly don't see RSL in the mix)...just to add a bit more pressure to the whole situation.

Posted by: jnel | October 18, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Mostly good posts:Yes, we won but were badly outplayed. Over an entire season, this sort of performance will leave us at the bottom.
ON THE OTHER HAND: Let's not judge James,Szetela, Khumalo, McT
even Wallace out-of position, Burch,Barkledge, Jacobson just yet
If another coach comes in, I would not be surprised to see Sz.
Bark,Burch really flourish. Some of us would start wallace at LB,
Sz.and Simms in DM, and with no Gomez,Moreno,Fred and maybe Lucio the entire chemistry might change. For ex.: Can you imagine what Bruce A. might do with the exact same roster? Whom he would play,and where,and in what system?
Or Frank Yallop? Not that they are available, but I am positing that a more qualified and self-assured coach might produce a better product with the available talent just by making a few adjustments, and encouragements. It's happened before,elsewhere.CP

Posted by: bechtoldpk | October 18, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Okay, I've worked out all the scenarios that involve teams tied at 42 points here:

Someone else will have to deal with teams tied at 40 points. My brain hurts.

Posted by: notabbott | October 18, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

figure out the damn permutations. you are the media and that is your job. ntabbott provided a bunch of jibberish

Posted by: davezerk | October 18, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

With the team's performance this year, I can guarantee even worse attendance than last year. DC United fans always attend games based on the previous years' record. Hopefully we have a bunch of every other week Saturday games. Otherwise, the city will continue to waste money on bogus AIDS clinics, tax scams, and mayoral swimming pool heaters instead of a DC United stadium.

Posted by: mbyrd28 | October 18, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Fine article Steve. Your first two paragraphs summed up our team's current situation and mood well. But,it was a "gritty" win--good soccer teams often make one goal stand up--- as you said, not an "Eke out" as your headline writer put it.I am glad I wasn't there to suffer through it.
Why would the coach start Mctavish at midfield when he is a back and when he had Fred available. Is management going to cut more international player salaries by releasing a good mid-fielder--Fred? Thanks for the piece.

Posted by: lemovs1 | October 18, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Burch has no idea how to mark a player. I don't know how many wide open headers their were in the box in his vicinity.

Khumalo single handidly created that first goal sure he doesn't play defense well but if u want to score goals u may have to give up alittle.

Szetela hustled but the gut looks like he is clueless. Vaughn is just bad.

On the example of skill jakovic is head and shoulders above the others. Notice on each of his defensive plays he connects with midfield on clearance. Burch kicks it to columbus or out of bounds. Watch the video.

Posted by: castroviejo | October 18, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

who is this "good midfielder -- Fred" of whom you speak? I certainly haven't seen one by that name this year.

Posted by: fedssocr | October 18, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Here, here. Fred has sucked this year. Personal struggles aside the guy has had plenty of time to make an impact and just hasn't.

Maybe Portland would take Wicks back for Cronin? Scroungers scum would love that trade.

Posted by: DadRyan | October 18, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

So is Cronin signed by anyone after this season? Portland? Free Agent? If it is Portland, and we pay a transfer fee, does that count against cap? Did we pay a transfer fee for Khumalo or Janicki?

Posted by: regularfan | October 18, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

OT: I don't know whether anyone has noted Montreal's USL-1 title in any previous thread.

Posted by: universityandpark | October 18, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Even though United is in the play-off hunt after a dismal season.

I can say we are better than the Skins...

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | October 18, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

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