I am getting so sick of writing wrap-ups to matches that DC never stood a chance of winning.
Let me say first, that as frustrating as a result like last night’s is, let’s not forget that it could have been far worse and that considering the injury disaster that has struck this club, Soehn’s lineup last night made quite a lot of sense.
That said, United was lucky not to get stuffed by a larger, far more embarrassing margin. If Saprissa had started its top three attacking players (which it didn’t) and just played halfway decently, especially in the first half, this could’ve been a truly hideous disaster. Let’s be clear about a few things early on. Thanks to the ongoing injury crisis, in a crucial home match in the Concacaf Champions Cup, United started a team that included three players whose ability to play in Major League Soccer is, at best, unknown and at worst, simply nonexistent. DC fans always overrate our talent but in one of the most crucial group matches United started:
- Khumalo – making only his second ever appearance at the MLS level and only his 22nd professional appearance anywhere, including South Africa
- Cordeiro – making only his seventh-ever professional appearance and only his second-ever start
- Thompson – Another rookie also making only his seventh-ever professional appearance and one who has no discernible skills beside running around a whole lot
They might work hard. They might even make the occasional surprisingly good play. But quite simply, at a minimum, 27 % of DC United’s starting lineup had entirely zero business appearing in this “pinnacle of North American club soccer.” Plus, let’s not forget that future USL All-Star Rod Dyachenko also played significant minutes last night. We all know that he has no business being at the pinnacle of anything except for lists of most overrated players in DC United history.
What does all that mean? Simple, United never once stood a chance of winning last night’s match. Nearly thirty percent of this ostensibly Major League team was made up players too inexperienced to even be described as “spare parts.”
And yet, what should Soehn should’ve done? Moreno is hurt again, and we learned yesterday, is heading for an MRI this week. If he has any injury more serious than an ingrown hair, then it’s time to start scouting for the draft because whatever slim chances of United of making the playoffs can officially get chucked away. Right now, with so much salary tied up in the perennially injured Gallardo, Peralta and Olsen, there is no conceivable way this team can compete for anything. In the context of the swoon I think we’re in the midst of, that Open Cup win is starting to seem unbelievable. How did this group of players manage to win anything?
I hate to say it. But this season is done. This swoon is the real thing. The talent is not there. The motivation doesn’t even look there. Warming up last night, this team barely looked like they wanted to be there. And why would they? They know they can’t compete with Saprissa, even with its three top attackers sitting. I know I’m not motivated to watch this team. I arrived at work yesterday to find this game listed on my Outlook calendar and do you know what my reaction was? Was it, “ooh, I have a game tonight?” No, it was, “Oh shit, that match really is tonight. Sigh.” I get the feeling that some of the players approached it the same way. I can’t really blame them.
I guess what I am saying is that, like D, I am just ashamed that this is what United has come to. Last night should’ve been a big night for this club. Instead it was close to a joke, with very little talent on the field and very few people in the seats. (And even fewer United fans amongst them.)
So what should United do? First of all, they need to be honest right now about their expectations. Things like United’s splash page on the website saying “we’re going to add to our collection” do nothing but make us look arrogant and frankly stupid right now. All we can do now is try not to embarrass ourselves in Concacaf while starting reserve lineups (especially on the road), and then trying desperately to find some form in the league matches starting with the road trip to play the even-more-dreadful Galaxy. LA hasn’t won since June. Does DC want to be the team that ends this season’s most entertaining run of futility? Does it want to give Arena that pleasure? DC is certainly bad enough to make that happen.
Here are some other thoughts on last night’s match:
- After going over my recollections of the incident and reading other people’s views, I can tell you this – Devon McTavish did take a swipe at the Saprissa player after the ref called a foul on Quaranta. Could McTavish hear the whistle? Did the Costa Rican make a total meal of the contact? I don’t know. The press box TVs didn’t show any replays of it. That said, from the press box, I saw McTavish take a swipe at a guy after play appeared to stop. That is asking for a red card and it’s precisely what he got.
- Wells was genuinely good last night. Really. If you think it looks weird to read that, trust me when I tell you it’s even weirder to write it.
- The crowd was as much of a joke as it surely appeared on television. It’s the first time I can remember an MLS fanbase seeming to suffer from “fixture congestion.”
- Count me now as fully in the “Soehn must stay” camp. No one could have made this group of players play well last night. Even if we miss the playoffs, Soehn should be allowed a mulligan for this season. He’s not going around rupturing ligaments and beating on players’ abductor muscles with crowbars. Plus, if Soehn goes, who is out there that we want to replace him? Now that Bruce is taken, the answer is no one. Kasper, on the other hand, should be calling Realtors right now.