Friday, August 04, 2006

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Strategy Against Dema

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

At 43:30, Ben Olsen was sent to the ground in the box on a foul neither more nor less PK-worthy than either of the two awarded Salt Lake last Saturday. No matter: one minute later Freddy Adu is sprung on the offside trap. He rounds the Columbus goalkeeper and has a gaping net in front of him from 15 yards. Rather than taking one extra touch to set up a soft shot and rather than kicking the ball hard, on the ground, dead center, he panics, or trys to get fancy, and spins the ball wide right. Christian Gomez and Ben Olsen fall to their knees, holding their heads in their hands. Jaime Moreno's look of disgust seemed cumulative. The crowd mumbling, aghast and frustrated, his teammates turning away, Adu shrugged. What else could he do?

This is not about Freddy. Alecko Eskandarian missed three sitters himself, one admittedly off his right foot, and two in two minutes, in the 62nd and 64th (and was taken out for Walker in the 66th). This is about all the four-on-threes and three-on-twos and five-on-threes and three-on-ones that not only produced no goals, they produced no shots: Lots of dancing, but no shots. DCU outshot Columbus 32-10, DCU outplayed Columbus most of the night, DCU was clearly the more talented, more organized, more determined team, and yet one minute into stoppage in the 2nd overtime period Chris Leitch bangs an open shot off the inside of the right post.

There was plenty to make me encouraged. DCU started its regular line-up (Rimando in for Perkins withstanding), and played hard, purposeful soccer. Columbus employed the long ball strategy to relatively little effect - Boswell, Namoff, and Erpen had a good game. Olsen had a very good game, and he and Moreno had two or three nice give and goes in the box, and Gomez was terrific (except on those three-on-twos). And at some point some of those 32 shots are going to go in.

But it should have been 2-1 at halftime and 3-1 at 60 and 4-1 at 70 and Moreno and Gomez and Olsen icing down on the sideline at 72, and with 30 seconds left in stoppage time a crappy Columbus is banging the tying shot off the post. If this was an isolated instance of DCU not finishing off a lesser opponent I'd no doubt be bitching about something else, but this is a pattern that's going to bite DCU on the ass if they don't work it out and it's going to cost them something important.

HEY: A whole bunch of interesting news in today's New York Times weekly soccer column, including:

Dema IS expected to sign with RBNY (dammit).

Fox Soccer Channel back into broadcasting MLS.

Kansas City Wizards going to Philadelphia?


Ilse has expressed in the comments a sentiment I've heard other women express, a certain wistful daydreaminess regarding dearly departed but now hideously redbullish Dema. I don't get it.


Mr Wint (from Diamonds Are Forever):

Must be a chickthing.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Insight on the Right
(Or, We Are the Enemy, a Neverending Story)

Digby, in a post about the increasingly bloodthirsty calls for a more rigorous genocidal policy versus anyone against us, quotes at length a Limbaugh screed exhorting the practice of Muslim extermination. Read the whole post, including Limbaugh's tirade.

Digby does what Digby does excellently, so I'll leave it to Digby to expand on the genocidal can of whoop-ass the Right is flagellating itself into a whipped-red state to achieve. What I want to remark on are these lines from Limbaugh's lunacy:

Oh, they're wonderful humanitarians, the Hezbos, why, the social services they provide the general population, why, they're doing such wonderful things, they care about people, they passed out health care and whatever the hell it is. Well, what they're doing is making the general population of these countries dependent on them, and as such, that is how they secure -- it's either through blackmail or genuine support, but it's how they get the support of the general population centers.

Substitute the word "Liberal" for the word "Hezbos" (note to Rush - tee hee!), and this is precisely what Conservatives accuse Liberals of doing in this country.

Without intending to defend Hezbollah: How dare these pernicious bastards provide food, shelter, healthcare, and security to a population that needs food, shelter, healthcare, and security! Does the deviousness of these terrorist masterminds know no limit? Next - NEXT! - they'll be providing basic services like roads and schools and GOD FORBID! a general safety net for the less fortunate in society!

No wonder the Far Right wants to kill them all.
What To Do?

Z'mazing what a loss can do. The panel of soccer writers that votes ESPN's Soccernet's
powerchart has dropped United to second behind Dallas asking, "Is DC United's record inflated by the weak Eastern Conference?" That's a valid point, but it was valid before Salt Lake (and Dallas' thumping of Colorado), and the same panel of experts were asking in previous weeks if United should be conceded the MLS Cup in mid-July.

Many have worried - me, for instance - that United was not yet all that, and watching Chicago template the gameplan for stuffing United and then watching United slunk over, grabbing the bottom of their shorts and gasping for air in Salt Lake, I'm convinced they're not all that yet. The rest of the league must be happily considering the possibility. And Nowak must know it too. After two and a half years of juggling line-ups, in part to fuck with the opposing coach's mind, he's been remarkably consistent with the starting line-up for the greater part of this season, mostly because they're winning, I'm sure. Regardless, if you're playing the same fourteen or fifteen (and the same nine or ten almost all of every game) they're gonna get tanked. Thank goodness they're done with high altitude stadiums, but it was not an accident that RSL lobbed long ball after long ball over the top. Those two PKs were caused by tired legs.

So what to do tonight? A tired team. The lowest of three team goals. A long break interrupted only by a friendly with the Galacticos in a game beamed back to Europe live and certainly on tape delay. Temperature index of 105. Versus fear of what a second loss in a row does not only to DCU's confidence but to the confidence of all the Columbuses and Dallases and Chicagos and Houstons in both the race for Supporters Shield and the MLS Cup playoffs. You're Peter Nowak - what do you do, who do you start, who do you rest, how do you play? How much do you want the game tonight?

OY - In the above linked Post article, mention that Quaranta is back (and may be in uniform tonight), which is good. Prideuax is getting healthy - that's good too. Dema may be back in MLS, possibly signing with the New York Red Bruces. Figgity fuck.

OH - DCU ticket office says no pre-sale of tickets remain. Get there early to buy what grassy knoll tickets are left. I didn't buy mine beforehand, never having had a problem in Germantown before, and I was thinking that between mid-week August vacation time and the heatwave, no worries. Hope I'm right.

If I do get in - and I expect I will - this will be the temperature-inverse of Harbour View.

UPDATE: We're in - call the soccerplex instead of DCU. They'll take credit card for will call.

Joe Fox

If and when Joe Lieberman loses this primary and/or the general election and is out of a job in January, how soon before he appears as a regular on a Fox panel talk show playing the martryed moderate? What are the odds that Fox hasn't talked to Lieberman's lawyers and agents already? Only slightly longer than the odds Fox isn't thinking about it already.

What if he loses this primary, falls on the sword of his self-congratulatory decency and (sparing himself the possible humiliation of running and losing as an independent), dies imagining himself moderation's fallen hero: he may not be out of a job until January, but he can increase his guest appearances on Fox in the meantime, oinking sanctimonious tsks tsks.

You think Lieberman is insufferable now, wait for Lieberman the avenging Moderate Martyr, brought to you by Fox.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Oh well.

United has lost twice this year, both times playing at high altitude (2-1 to Colorado on 5/6). They've played poorly in the past on narrow fields in football stadia (that dumb junior college field in Dallas, that dumb San Jose St field). By the second half they looked gassed and they looked stuffed. And sooner or later one of these 1-0 leads was not going to hold up for a win or even a tie.

RSL may or may not have been gifted the PKs (though when I saw that Abbey Okalaja was the ref I feared something awful), but RSL played well enough (or DCU poor enough) for the points. The PKs: I ask myself to view PKs two ways: what would I think if I could make myself a interested neutral; what would I think if the same call benefited DCU. And in both cases, I just can't summon outrage. Ballouchy dived a bit on the first, but that he was that open at the top of the box in the 90th minute that he had to be tackled is damning enough, and in an angle of a replay from behind Okalaja's back in looked like from Okalaja's view of the play it was a foul. If it'd been a DCU player in the same spot I'd be howling for a PK. (And did you see Clyde Simms level Mehdi Ballouchy after Ballouchy's dive? On orders, or did Simms just seek out and whack on his own?) The second? I don't know. I think I would have taken it, sheepishly, if it'd been given to DCU.

I don't subscribe to the notion that sometimes a loss is good, though I think some losses are worse than others. This ought to piss United off. The stories this week of DCU's possible place in MLS lore and how deep and talented DCU is, reread over a loss to the league's worse team, should give DCU's players and coaches ample time to refocus. It'll be interesting to see who and how they play Tuesday in Germantown - I wonder if some players who might have been given the night off are now back in the plans. And practices ought to be spirited.

But one of the greatest teams in MLS history? Guaranteed the Supporters Shield? (Dallas won 4-1 last night.) DCU's been reminded that they are not all that yet. If they take that out the loss, rather than blaming, in their heart of hearts, the ref and the PKs, some benefit may come from this loss.