Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
3. MLS: Have foes detected flaws in D.C. United?
October 18th, 2006 1:51AM

MOST READ


By Ridge Mahoney

It could prove be nothing more than sniping by the desperate, but scuttlebutt around the league is that D.C. United's lackluster finish to the regular season may be borne of more than indifference.

A stagnant back line, a creaky Jaime Moreno, and a propensity of several players to bark at referees or flop to the ground in search of free kicks have opponents hoping United can be upset in the playoffs. It rolled to the regular season title with a 15-7-10 record and led the league in goals scored with 52, but won just one of its last seven games.

In its final four home matches, it conceded nine goals and won once - a 4-3 victory over the New York Red Bulls. Its only league wins after the All-Star break were the Red Bulls victory and an away game against Chivas USA.

By playing at times with three attackers and matching up against United's defenders one-on-one, New England (2-1) and Chicago (3-2) won at RFK on the last two weekends of the regular season; D.C. will play one of those teams if it eliminates the Red Bulls in the first playoff round.

Chicago also knocked off United, 3-0, in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals before beating the Galaxy, 3-1, to win the title.

"By beating them twice in meaningful games it gives us confidence that if we meet them in the playoffs we have a good chance against them," says Fire coach Dave Sarachan. "Of course we have to get there first and they have the league's best record and some great players."

Coach Peter Nowak promised to rest Moreno down the stretch, but he wound up playing every game and logging more minutes than every field player except Brian Carroll. If he isn't effective, teams have a better chance of shutting down Christian Gomez, the team's top scorer with 14 goals and 11 assists. Flipping between the flanks has seemed to unsettle midfielder Josh Gros and teams know him better; what once were scything, incisive runs now tend to run aground over the endline.

Despite leaking goals near the end of the season, United ranked second with 38 goals allowed (behind New England at 35). Eight of those goals were penalty kicks, which can be interpreted two ways: United gave up only 30 in regular play, which is good, but it defended so carelessly it gave away eight penalties, which was more than any other team.

United has no shortage of positives heading into the playoffs. Goalkeeper Troy Perkins and defender Bryan Namoff have contributed strong seasons, Freddy Adu set a personal best this year with eight assists, and the Gomez-Moreno combination is still one of the most potent in the league.

Facing the Red Bulls and former United coach Bruce Arena in the first round is a potential banana skin. Temperatures for the Meadowlands regular season finale last weekend dropped into the 30s and few United players are fond of its artificial surface. And in the first round last year, United tied 0-0 in Chicago only to be skunked, 4-0, at RFK, so if United doesn't shake off its late-season malaise, the homefield advantage may be moot.


No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Lack of playing time worrying for bubble players    
[AMERICANS ABROAD] With only four weeks at most for most players before the end of their ...
Three games to watch    
[MLS: Week 7] Real Salt Lake and Portland face off for the first time since meeting ...
Ref thwarts hidden ball trick    
[VIDEO PICK: Off the Post] Norwegian midfielder Jan Gunnar Solli of Swedish club Hammarby tucked the ...
What They're Saying    
"This is going to be the foundation of the World Cup. It's a dry climate. It's ...
Howard's extension 'incredible moment' for Everton    
[AMERICANS ABROAD] Everton has signed U.S. national team goalkeeper Tim Howard to a two-year extension that ...
NYCFC affiliates with eight New York area youth clubs    
[MLS 2015] MLS expansion club New York City FC (which will announce on Monday plans to ...
What They're Saying    
"You should never underestimate the allure of daytime drinking. If you're in a bar at 7 ...
Injured World Cup hopefuls set to contribute    
[MLS: The USA 20] There is good news on the U.S. national team front regarding MLS ...
De Grandpre returns to Red Bulls    
[MLS SPOTLIGHT] Marc de Grandpre is back with the New York Red Bulls, having been hired ...
U.S. U-20s sweep group play with win over Tigres    
[DALLAS CUP] The U.S. under-20 national team beat Tigres of Mexico, 1-0, and moved into the ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives