2 Goals, 1 Point; DC United draw Chicago Fire 2-2

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In a winnable game, DC United scored 2 goals and showed more offensive creativity than they have in 10+ games.  But 2 goals weren’t enough to secure three points as a leaky United defense allowed Chicago 2 goals to sneak away with a draw.

Considering the weather, 9800 fans wasn’t a horrible number for attendance, although I’m with many people on Twitter hoping that 9800 was the gate number and not tickets sold.  In my new section under the overhang, the seats were mostly packed as families hoped to stay relatively dry.  The concentration of fans under the roof made it seem louder than it may have sounded on TV.

On the field, it was immediately evident that this game was going to be a sloppy affair.  Neither team could complete a pass during the early going, as balls skidded out of bounds and off players’ feet.  United had most of the possession and had 9 chances on goal over the game, which feels like 9 more than they’ve had all season.  DC’s goals came on one of the oldest set play maneuvers, with DeLeon walking over the ball and rolling it backwards to Espindola, who knocked the ball under the wall and past Sean Johnson.  The second goal came after a mad scramble in the box following a DC corner, with Kitchen managing to put the ball into the net amidst a sea of players.

Once United got the lead, it was evident that the team wasn’t used to that dynamic.  Bill Hamid and Sean Franklin were punting balls to Sean Johnson repeatedly, and players were playing with a nervous frantic energy.  Predictably, Chicago was able to exploit some naive defending and scored the equalizer.  I’ll leave it to BR&U for further details, but I wanted to do the match ratings.  Continue reading

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“Attacking Left Back”

After the supremely deflating home opener, where I brought 12 people to witness an entirely dour game played by people who appeared to have just met (I know, I’m giving it time), I didn’t have the heart to recap the game.  I feel like it could have been done in a few sentences (Defense not yet acquainted with each other, regressive offensive tactics, surprising Columbus performance), but one thing stuck out to me in particular as a potential problem.

This guy.

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“Left Backs play almost exclusively in the other team’s 18 in the US, right?” Photo Credit: dcunited.com

Don’t get me wrong, DC United’s only shot on target came from Mr. Fernandez, and he was very active on his side.  In a perfect world, that kind of industry and attacking mindset would be a real benefit to a team that has been so bereft of offense.

But as others have mentioned, Christian’s positioning forced Deleon to be a player that he’s not.  If Nick is playing box to box, and worrying more about defense than getting forward, you may as well play Lewis Neal in that spot.  You lose the benefit of a player with Deleon’s offensive skill if you handcuff him to a player that isn’t going to hurry to get back to his position.

It’s very early, and circumstances of the game may have been dictating Christian’s play, but with two average speed (at best) center backs, and two fullbacks that are going to spend as much time bombing down the wings as in their own half, this is an area to focus on going forward.

Note: I’m holding off on a long winded look at Ben Olsen’s offensive tactics until the team has had time to gel.  But be forewarned, if this team doesn’t score goals by April, prepare for some Rudy level of coach-blaming.

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Casey Townsend cut, Forward picture becomes clearer

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Casey Townsend, appearing for Richmond in 2013, where he had limited opportunities

This morning, DC United announced that they had waived Casey Townsend, after making 9 appearances for DC last year, and a handful of loan appearances in Richmond.  As others have already commented, Townsend is a poacher, and last year offered very little opportunity in the way of chances for forwards like him.  I could see him being successful on an NASL/USL side, and hope he catches on somewhere.

The positive outcome of this roster move is that DC United’s forward picture has become clear.  Eddie Johnson is your obvious #1, when Olsen plays with 1 forward up top, which is his usual formation choice.  Fabian Espindola will sometimes partner with him, or play withdrawn, and Conor Doyle is your CCL+ Open Cup + “when EJ is at the WC” guy.  The amount of games DC will be playing this year necessitates a fourth forward, which means that Michael Seaton should get an opportunity to play more games for DC this year.  Christiano Francois will likely spend the entire year in Richmond, which is the best case scenario for all parties involved.

What do you expect out of Seaton this year, after limited appearances last year with short glimpses of his potential?

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