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

MOST COMMENTED

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
What They're Saying: Kristi Lefebvre    
"Right now, we play multiple games in a 3-4 day span which makes it essential to ...
Molino hat trick powers Orlando City to 7-0 rout    
[USL PRO: Week 24] Kevin Molino added to his USL PRO scoring record with a hat ...
D.C. United and Galaxy close in on Sounders    
[MLS: Sunday] D.C. United opened up a four-point lead in the Eastern Conference with a 2-0 ...
Guzan's Aston Villa climbs into third place    
[AMERICANS ABROAD] Brad Guzan's Aston Villa beat Hull City, 2-1, to move into third place in ...
A-Rod and Holiday lead FC Kansas City to title    
[NWSL: Final] U.S. national team stars Amy Rodriguez and Lauren Holiday teamed up for both goals ...
FC Edmonton ends Minnesota's unbeaten streak    
[NASL: Fall Week 8] FC Edmonton ended Minnesota United FC's 11-game unbeaten streak with a 2-1 ...
Dempsey hits dozen mark with shin volley    
[VIDEO PICK: Golazo] Clint Dempsey scored his 11th goal of the season, and 12th since he ...
Turmoil in Toronto leads to shakeup    
[MLS SPOTLIGHT] Less than 24 hours after an embarrassing 3-0 home loss to New England and ...
What They're Saying: Steven Gerrard    
"If he plays like that for us every week and continues to improve, he could be ...
Reign players reward Harvey with turnaround    
[NWSL: Final] Englishwoman Laura Harvey was an easy choice for NWSL Coach of the Year, taking ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives