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United Rewind

An admirable performance by D.C. United at 8,800 feet in a land where American teams go to die, but will the 1-1 tie against group winner Toluca be enough? Jabloteh is winless in this competition (and frankly, not very good) but if the T&T club can beat or tie Marathon on Thursday, United will advance to the Champions League quarterfinals -- quite an accomplishment after losing the first two games in group play. Jabloteh has been formidable at home, staying within a goal of DCU and Toluca. So there is hope.

Credit to Chris Pontius for his breathtaking goal, as well as to Coach Tom Soehn for organizing the team well and managing minutes ahead of Saturday's crucial league finale at Kansas City. Olsen, Simms, Moreno and Burch were rested, Khumalo and Wallace split time, and Gomez and Jakovic played less than 30 minutes.

MLS teams are now 0-17-2 in Mexico.

Lawson Vaughn, on the PK call: "The guy got around me. I don't know if our legs got tangled but I did not try to kick him or anything, and he just fell. I guess he sold it."

Pontius, on the altitude: "You just get winded so much faster and your vision starts to get a little bit blurry."

Soehn: "We definitely wanted to come and get the result here so we didn't have to count on somebody else. This is a tough environment. Our guys handled it well. ... We're disappointed not to come away with a better result, but I thought our team fought well."

Read the match details.

PLAYER RATINGS
Cronin 7; Vaughn 5, James 7, McTavish 6, John 7; Fred 5, DiRaimondo 6, Szetela 6.5, Khumalo 5; Pontius 8, Emilio 5. Subs: Wallace 6, Gomez 5, Jakovic 6.


By Steve Goff  |  October 20, 2009; 11:14 PM ET
Categories:  CONCACAF Champions League , D.C. United  
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Next: Wednesday Kickaround

Comments

Vamos United!

What a goal by Pontius! That said, I would have rated Cronin equal to Pontius.

Posted by: Curious99 | October 20, 2009 11:26 PM | Report abuse

I thought it was a top-rate game from a team that (on paper) was outmatched. I have to raise the question though, what is up with Emilio? He phoned it in tonight, big time. He gave away more passes than he completed and showed the enthusiasm of an armadillo. Great goal from Pontius! What are the prospects of keeping Cronin? He was sensational for the second game in a row. Was very pleased with Wallace and Szetela. Thanks for the good work, Goff!

Posted by: nytshade71 | October 20, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Columbus qualified (8 points) with a Saprissa lost tonight to Cruz Azul.

I think it was great effort on United, although the penalty was just bad coverage by Vaughn (who kept getting beat on the foot race).

Great effort overall, now I send positive vibes to SJJ for the win or tie!

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | October 21, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

I like Chris Pontius and I think he has the skill and physical attributes to be a top player. He needs to keep plugging away at his shots as he has all season and more will go in sooner or later. Awesome goal.

Posted by: elfelixg | October 21, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Fred wasn't great, but he was miles better than DiRaimondo and Khumalo in this one. Don't understand how DiRaimondo ranked higher.

Posted by: DC0071 | October 21, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

too bad I can't use Pontius' goal as a ringtone.... :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | October 21, 2009 12:40 AM | Report abuse

Who should DC sub on?

I'd think about Jakovic and Wallace right now (maybe for DiRaimondo and Khumalo, w McT moving up to d-mid). Then Gomez for the final 20 or 30 minutes. But I don't know how gassed the various starters are feeling.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | October 20, 2009 9:03 PM

@Joel_M_Lane-You were dead on at halftime! If only Soehn had brought in Jakovic at halftime, we could've had a better time defending their dangerous attacks and possibly prevented that goal. Especially if it was for Vaughn. Vaughn didn't play a great game. Chest was right about Jakovic, why bring him to Mexico if you're gonna bench him for most of the game?

"(W)hat is up with Emilio? He phoned it in tonight, big time. He gave away more passes than he completed and showed the enthusiasm of an armadillo."

Posted by: nytshade71 | October 20, 2009 11:30 PM

@nytshade71-How many United games have you watched this season? This Emilio is not the Emilio of 2009.
This has been the story all season long. (Although I thought he brought a sliver of energy to this game).

Posted by: redskinsux | October 21, 2009 12:44 AM | Report abuse

2008

Posted by: redskinsux | October 21, 2009 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Emilio's been an enigma all right, but he has scored 10 goals this season.

Posted by: vivzig | October 21, 2009 1:12 AM | Report abuse

Emilio's been an enigma all right, but he has scored 10 goals this season.

Posted by: vivzig | October 21, 2009 1:12 AM | Report abuse

10 goals and over 50% of his shots are on goal (compared to 41% for Pontius).

However, Goff still gives the rating advantage to Pontius over the course of the season and given the extremes of their salaries it does bring up the question of if those 10 goals are worth the money DC is paying for him and the DP slot.

Posted by: Southeasterner | October 21, 2009 1:56 AM | Report abuse

If Pontius played the same number of minutes up top as Emilio, he'd have scored 15+ this year.

I will not be surprised in the least if a SMART European team takes him on loan for the winter. He has the potential to add more to a club than Beckham will in Milan.

I honestly felt United controlled much of the match, Szetela showed why he should be retained for at least another year, McTavish showed well, and Cronin may have earned himself a better than average chance to win the starting gig next season. He's looked better than Wicks or Kocic to me. I'd keep him and drop Wicks.

That said, regardless of the results from here on out, Soehn needs to go. If we had brought Olsen, Simms, and Moreno, we'd have won this match.

Posted by: alecw81 | October 21, 2009 2:06 AM | Report abuse

Honestly from what I saw of Szetela tonight I don't understand how he isn't on the field regularly. Szetela is miles better the Jacobson. Jacobson doesn't have nearly to composure and passing range that Szetela possess.

Szetela especially impressed me the final 25 minutes when he was constantly checking for the ball off the back line and then distributing the ball well.

Therefore, I would add Szetela to fischy's small list of core players we can build off of. I can't remember if Simms is on that list but he should be too. Simms is hugely important to us (Or drastic dive into the toilet of the MLS coincided with Simms groin injury). Also, I would include Wallace, even though he is lacks technical skill right now.

I would start Simms and Szetela in the midfield this week.

Overall, I was impressed with the performance away in Mexico. Sadly, I just don't think it is going to carry us into the next round. I wish it would though.

Posted by: grubbsbl | October 21, 2009 2:09 AM | Report abuse

While I liked the overall effort I saw too many lazy/stupid passes (uh hem, Boyzz).

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | October 21, 2009 2:18 AM | Report abuse

If Pontius played the same number of minutes up top as Emilio, he'd have scored 15+ this year.

Posted by: alecw81 | October 21, 2009 2:06 AM

I really hate this kind of argument. Pontius has shanked his fair number of shots this year. The fact that he's got a huge upside, versatility, youth, and a low salary do not combine to indicate that he would have scored more goals in a season than every forward in our league save 2. In a similar fashion, he may not have stopped the penalty kick at Toluca.

We could fill our team with 10 players like Pontius and still not win the Cup--we need other qualities on our team besides cheapness, versatility, and youth. Emilio is what he is, but let's not misrepresent him. He was brought here to score goals and he's scored them. If we want something else out of that position--and we probably do--we probably ought to think about a different player. But Emilio has scored, will score again, and there's no guarantee that ANY of his goals get finished by someone else.

Posted by: vivzig | October 21, 2009 2:23 AM | Report abuse

While I think the players and coaching staff could not possibly care less, they earned my respect back tonight.
That was a very good showing....much pleased!

Posted by: marksman37 | October 21, 2009 3:29 AM | Report abuse

I was not impressed by Vaughn. His sloppy play may have cost us a berth in the next round. He was getting beat all night.

McTavish, on the other hand, may have played his best game all year, consistently winning balls and nearly putting DC ahead just seconds after the Toluca PK.

Posted by: alex_o | October 21, 2009 7:14 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to know how many goals Emilio has scored from outside the 18, or not off poaching...

Posted by: Reignking | October 21, 2009 7:53 AM | Report abuse

It's great that we're able to get Pontius and Wallace the experience of playing matches at altitude in tough environments. That experience will serve them well when they start seeing time with the USMNT some day.

Posted by: DCUMD | October 21, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Some of the comments during the game suggested that it was a cheap penalty call, but it looked spot on. And how about the music that the highlights were set to—I'm gonna replay that one two or three times, just for the listening!

Posted by: glfrazier | October 21, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

everyone was dishing on Khumalo serving wide out of reach balls but honestly if other players read what khumalo's intentions are it is going to be a deadly counter attack. But person on the other side has no brian to run up and walking around the field. In the end given the legit disallowed goal for Toluca the pk was a justice. overall great result for united specially at Toluca, a top team. Perhaps playing the unproven players maybe the way to get results rather than known famous like Olsen, Moreno and the likes... I mean there is not much convincing play from there either.

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball | October 21, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

No one has mentioned a key factor - that Toluca was clearly off their game last night. How many missed traps and simply low quality moments were perpetrated by Toluca? They seemed unfocused for much of the match - dramatically different compared to the team that beat us soundly @ RFK a while back.

United did well enough given the circumstances, but we also got help from a team that gave up the ball too easily throughout the match.

Posted by: 22206no1 | October 21, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

He has the potential to add more to a club than Beckham will in Milan.
=====================

Can you explain your thinking on that? Because at first blush it would seem that you are saying a European team would be better off taking Chris Pontius on loan than David Beckham, which couldn't possibly be a serious thought.

Posted by: OWNTF | October 21, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

I was wondering who would win a 40-yard footrace, Peralta, Vaughn or one of the offensive tackles for the Redskins.

Posted by: OWNTF | October 21, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Um,

Well at least we won't have fixture congestion next year...

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | October 21, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

everyone was dishing on Khumalo serving wide out of reach balls but honestly if other players read what khumalo's intentions are it is going to be a deadly counter attack. But person on the other side has no brian to run up and walking around the field.

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball

Yo, man, you mean dissin' -- you so ain't street.

And I did not see a Brian on the field, so you are right about that.

Posted by: Reignking | October 21, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

The Pontius/Emilio debate is apples and oranges. Emilio is a fading star striker who specializes at only one thing, finishing. Even at his zenith he was never fast, and never had much skill dribbling or creating for other players, or even really at holding the ball with his back to goal. He "just" scored.

Pontius is a young guy on (hopefully, but no guarantees) an upswing. He has great size and decent speed for his size. His anticipation of the game and ability to play off (and to) his teamates is fantastic. He can play the flank as well as up top. But he is not yet a star striker, and may never be. He's sitting on four goals in league play, and has been, I think, for quite some time. Typical rookie wall? Hope so. I'd like to see him (and yes Wallace) on the USMT someday, but they need to earn it first.

If there is one head-to-head point of comparison between the two, I'd say it is how they strike the ball. Emilio seems to have lost the ability to strike with authority from distance. Pontius may miss more, but he always seems to hit it well. That, I think, is the promise that folks see, and for my part, I hope he keeps taking those hits. If he does, I think they will start to go in more.

I'm all for putting Pontius up top next year on the new United. But it would be too much to ask him to be the number one guy, and anyway with his skill I see him as more of a withdrawn forward. United needs a polished striker, and if it is a new version of Emilio from his first year, or for that matter a young Lassiter or Diaz Arce, that would be great. We have a lot of guys with skill. Its always good to have someone who "just scores" to play with them.

Posted by: regularfan | October 21, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

DC absorbed a lot of pressure last night and were lucky to only allow one goal. Great experience for our guys and hopefully a result we can build on.

The last two games in champions league (both at home) have been ties for Toluca, limping into the quarter finals. We need a big gift from the pointless Jabloteh and hopefully they can end this tournament on a sweeter note, they certainly deserve at least a point.

Where was cronin all season? are you really telling me our FO had no idea how cronin and wicks match up?? that's reason enough to make some changes. AND how about ripping the rug from under kocic, naming him the champs league goalie only to sign a journeyman who will play both domestic and the international matches?? big vote of "no confidence," verdad?

Posted by: The_Dude_Abides1 | October 21, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

I will not be surprised in the least if a SMART European team takes him on loan for the winter. He has the potential to add more to a club than Beckham will in Milan.
Posted by: alecw81 | October 21, 2009 2:06 AM |

You have enraged every single eurosnob on this blog! But seriously, Pontius is ultimatley too slow to play for even the USMNT anytime soon. He needs to work on his speed, although there is only so much a person can do in that category as pure speed is mostly a have it or you dont have it thing. And Pontius on set peices vs. Beckham- come on, be serious..

Posted by: rademaar | October 21, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Just renewed my season tickets - glad I won't have to worry about all those mid-week games!

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | October 21, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I like Pontius, great goal last night, but c'mon folks lets not get carried away. He is a decent MLS player, and likely will get a bit better with more experience. If he had scorching pace, I might think differently. But he has average speed, average quickness, average ball skills, and probably below average acceleration, so his upside is limited.

Posted by: Ron16 | October 21, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Vaughn's foul that produced the PK is a milestone of sorts. When was the last time anyone saw a foul called on defender with his back an attacker who was moving away from the defender -- and not being held by the defender? The ref made a good call. The foul belongs on every ref's highlight reel.

Good work by DCU at altitude. But when will the players learn that even at 8,000 feet long air balls to Emilio are guaranteed turnovers?

regularfan wrote: "United needs a polished striker, and if it is a new version of Emilio from his first year, or for that matter a young Lassiter or Diaz Arce, that would be great."

Or, perhaps, a young Moreno. Yes, DCU needs such a savior. So do the vast majority of clubs worldwide. The demand far exceeds supply -- and clubs with more resources than DCU are first in line.

Posted by: runningcloud | October 21, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Can't believe Wallace shanked the give and go from Pontius. Alone on the keeper with the quarterfinals in hand and he clears it over the top! Ugh.

We took a lot of pressure, but we were by no means bunkered in. Gomez and Wallace brought some much needed lift in the second half.

Too bad for the pk. It was the correct call, but the Toluca player really had nowhere to go and was not in a threatening position when Vaughn rolled onto him. Oh well . .

Posted by: delantero | October 21, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I missed Szetela's positive play. I thought we had a huge hole in our play where the central MF's were supposed to be. DiRimando won't be taking a starting role anytime soon, but that's no surprise.

Vaughan, James, Szetela and John are all waiver wire pickups. Vaughan is an MLS squad player at best. John is done, IMHO. James can be useful, but maybe not as a a starter on a good team.

Szetela remains an enigma for me.

(Cronin wasn't available in the middle of the season, to answer a previous post.

The idea that these guys, along with an out of form Fred and Emilio, grabbed a point in Mexico at altitude is kind of remarkable.

Posted by: JkR- | October 21, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

""honestly if other players read what khumalo's intentions are it is going to be a deadly counter ""

If Khumalo would learn how to keep his crosses out of the cheap seats and on the field, the players might have a chance.

Posted by: delantero | October 21, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

If Khumalo would learn how to keep his crosses out of the cheap seats and on the field, the players might have a chance.

Posted by: delantero | October 21, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

--------------------------------------------

Exactly. He was killing us late in the first half giving away possession. We were winning - keep the ball. If you're going to give the ball away, at least do it with a pass that your teammate has a prayer of getting to.

Posted by: beach3 | October 21, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I have to admit, I'm sort of pleased with the result last night. While watching the game I wanted United to win, but I don't think qualifying for the elimination round of the tournament is what this club needs in 2010.

Our new coach (fingers are crossed) will need a full pre-season to build his team.

Posted by: TCompton | October 21, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

This whole enigma is kind of enigmatic for me.

Posted by: WorldCup | October 21, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Yeah - Cronin wasn't available in the middle of the season because he was busy carrying the Timbers to the top of the USL-1 table. But, does anyone know what his contract status is with Portland?

And maybe more importantly, does anyone know why he stunk so bad with the GaLAxy? Did Cronin's solid season in USL-1 provide the boost in confidence necessary for him to succeed in MLS or is he just simply straddling the talent line - similar to a AAAA player in baseball?

Granted, Wicks was solid at Portland, stunk with the GaLAxy, but then managed to do alright here in DC too. Comparing the two, I'd rather have Cronin...he seems less volatile anyway.

Posted by: combedge | October 21, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Cronin may have earned himself a better than average chance to win the starting gig next season. He's looked better than Wicks or Kocic to me. I'd keep him and drop Wicks.

Posted by: alecw81 | October 21, 2009 2:06 AM
-----------------

I agree. And Cronin doesn't seem to have the short fuse and violent outbursts that Wicks has.

Posted by: Dynaformer | October 21, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Cronin is not whack. As far as we know.

Posted by: OWNTF | October 21, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Stop dishing on Wicks.

Posted by: Reignking | October 21, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Regarding the player ratings, I think Cronin, McTavish and Szetela deserved higher. As for Emilio's rating, was the 5 for the number of times he touched the ball or for his giveaways? Here's hoping that Pontius is our go-to-guy next year up top and that Emilio is standing with his back to goal somewhere else!!

Posted by: patrick18 | October 21, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

We stand a good chance of going through tonight... if Jabloteh are allowed to play Marathon in cricket instead.

Posted by: Kev29 | October 21, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Barca lost to Rubin Kazaa! at home, so anything is possible...right?

Posted by: Reignking | October 21, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Pontius should never be converted to striker; the "highest" he should go is withdrawn forward. Because he is probably the best player on the squad at pressuring the ball, which was one of the keys to DCU's glory days (feast on your opponent's mistakes). We've seen it from Pontius in the MF role but it's something DCU has sorely lacked from its aging F corps lately.

As for Szetela, my feeling is he'll get more PT if and when he gets rid of the love handles. Tossig his jersey after the Columbus win was a nice gesture and sort of cleared up the mystery at the same time.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | October 21, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I say keep cronin, wicks and the young guy from the dc youth team. Im sure all there salaries are not that bad, considering crayton was making over 100k this year. 50k each for wicks and cronin would make them happy. Plus we get a good candidate in cronin for starter, wicks pushing for a spot. Unless there are some other stellar mls keepers that i don't know about?

Posted by: Norteno4life | October 21, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

@22206no1: "How many missed traps and simply low quality moments were perpetrated by Toluca? They seemed unfocused for much of the match - dramatically different compared to the team that beat us soundly @ RFK a while back."

Toluca looked pretty godawful in the RFK match as well, especially in the first half. Indeed, the first half of that match was probably the worst I've ever seen, at any level.

Posted by: asfoolasiam | October 21, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Off-season training plan:

Burch and Wallace should dribble and shoot night and day, but be subject to fine every time they touch the ball with their left foot. If either of them develops a right foot, we might even credibly threaten from the left side. Right now, they are both pitifully easy to defend.

The entire team will drill on two things -- the field-switching cross and chest-traps. Instead of using their chests to knock the ball backwards 5 yards, the players might learn to control the ball with a first touch of their chests.

Finally, Jacobson and Pontius will do extensive shooting drills every day.

Otherwise, I want to add one name to my earlier list -- Clyde Simms. Not his best year, but it would be difficult to replace him. I disagree with those praising Szetela -- I saw him hold the ball well exactly one time. I saw him give away other balls and squander good opportunities. I love what he did with the u20s, but I haven't seen a glimpse of that with United yet.

I'm still amazed that Fred and Vaughn were actually paid for their performance. It's a curious business, with all the roster rules. If you performed like that in any other field of endeavor, you'd be let go the same day.

Posted by: fischy | October 21, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I'm still amazed that Fred and Vaughn were actually paid for their performance. It's a curious business, with all the roster rules. If you performed like that in any other field of endeavor, you'd be let go the same day.

Posted by: fischy | October 21, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse
==========================

Unless you are a (1) union member; (2) bank CEO; (3) United States President, Senator or Congressperson.

As for the rest of us: "We're taking what they're giving 'cause we're working for a livin' "

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

I love the Save By the Bell theme music in the background of the highlight video.

Pontius' goal was amazing. If this was in the MLS it would be a candidate for goal of the year. I hope they continue this good form Saturday night in Kansas City. Last year in KC didn't go over very well.

Posted by: wanker82 | October 21, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I don't want to come off as preachy - but this is definitely one of the better behaved comment areas on the Post site. . . .
Posted by: Kev29 | October 13, 2009 3:49 PM

-Well said Kev29 -- except for the knuckleheads who can't stop posting political comments about such topics as union members (The 7% Of The Workforce That Is Wrecking America!!) etc. Most of whom seem to be on one side of the aisle, of late.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | October 21, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

"-Well said Kev29 -- except for the knuckleheads who can't stop posting political comments about such topics as union members"

@fallschurch1, well, we're all entitled to our opinion but I hate Union members. We don't really need them and I don't like them. And I personally hope the Union gets beaten down time and time again...

Wait, we're talking about Philly, right?

Posted by: prokaryote | October 21, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I juat went outside and hugged a tree.

Just to balance things out...

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | October 21, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

The thing I'm most disturbed about is that you guys are stoked on that music from that highlight reel...

Posted by: DadRyan | October 21, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

If you performed like that in any other field of endeavor, you'd be let go the same day.

Posted by: fischy | October 21, 2009 11:16 AM |
**********

What about Weathermen? They get it right only about 20% of the time, are highly paid, and never get sued. (And for those of you old enough to remember, no I am not getting political.)

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | October 21, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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