DS, 10.15: Week 28 Bonus Notes; DC…yeah, yeah, yeah; The Chris Rolfe Experiment + More

– Tolerably pleased as I am with my (repeatedly edited) wrap of Week 28/9, the need for brevity kept me from dwelling on a point or two. Surprisingly, most said dwelling focuses on a game I didn’t watch: New England v. Columbus; no less strange, most of it deals with Columbus.

Before getting to that, though, Steve Ralston shows a mastery for understatement more than once in a write-up on New England’s loss to Columbus; in that same muted tone, however, he says what needs saying about the Revolution at this late, momentous point in the 2007 season:

“’In the first half, we had the better of it,’ Ralston said. ‘We played well. But we have to start playing well for 90 minutes.’”

Is there anything to say, but great googly-moogly? August was the time to “start playing well” over the length of the game, if not before.

In spite of the loss, however, the Revs have a post-season to look forward to, while the conquering Crew do not. There’s something very baffling about that after seeing something so sublimely pretty as Columbus’ second goal, which came from Eddie Gaven’s pinpoint lofted cross to an onrushing Stefani Miglioranzi. Columbus possesses sufficiently talented players; playing alongside Eddie Gaven, you’ll find Robbie Rogers, who, over the past few games I’ve caught, seems to have found his MLS legs. Referring back to Ralston’s quote, not to mention the box-score and game summary, Columbus never really got it going till Guillermo Barros Schelotto hit the field. Add that one-game reality – so aptly noted in the Columbus’ Dispatch’s box summary – to the larger slump that “mysteriously” coincided with Schelotto’s absence from the Crew and it looks like a case of the Crew’s youngsters genuinely needing Schelotto to perform well. While this passes for conventional wisdom – and there’s no denying that Schelotto wears the word “special” fairly well – there’s still something incredible about it. These are professional players, after all, and fairly good ones; surely, they can’t be that mentally fragile …can they? Ah well, I’ll have to study this one. (By the way, this is how my “fan brain” works; I just kind of get fixated on things and that’s how my weird version of soft, subtle fandom creeps in.)

– Turning to another game – Red Bull v. KC – I’d recommend Kyle McCarthy’s grand analysis for what ails KC; to credit myself a bit, though, he cites the dearth of midfield supply for the Wizards’ dry streak, something I flagged in my weekly wrap. While there’s no denying a serious swoon afflicts this bunch, what struck me during Saturday’s game was a general improvement in Eddie Johnson’s game. Sure, he offered up soft-serve on the PK and the fact he needs to go back to the midfield stripe to get the ball does something to his effectiveness in the role of a forward, but signs of a cleaner, smarter game popped up here and there; Johnson seems to see more of the field, which opens up cross-field passes instead of the easy drops he seems to favor, and he’s playing more decisively, which helped KC with possession a few times. Johnson did cough up a pass or two, but, overall, he helped KC…unfortunately, that helping happened farther away from the goal than it should have.

– OK, moving more quickly now: as noted in earlier posts, DC United won the Supporters’ Shield for the second year running. And, yeah, DC fans are gloating (here and, especially, here)…even as late-season doubts bubble up on the fringes. I say let ’em – and good for them to boot. DC may be the team I can never bring myself to pull for, but, no matter who does it, the Supporters’ Shield is always deserved – it’s in the nature of the honor.

– You’d have to walk many miles before finding something so thoroughly hope-fueled and brightly optimistic as how the Red Bull Offside’s gaze forward to playoff time. I’m not knocking the man, believe me, not least because I really could see Red Bull knocking off New England in the first round. In any case, I held out hope for Columbus in a similar spirit…and there’s also that call on Dallas v. KC this weekend. At any rate, Dave Martinez (who writes the site) posted something beautifully enthusiastic. It’s well worth the gander.

– God…I think I’m becoming a Columbus fan…

– Ian Plenderleith wrote a beauty on Juan Carlos Osorio’s faith in Chris Rolfe’s ability to handle his new, deeper-lying role. Word that he’s taking pointers on defense from Chris Armas raises some interesting questions (as Plenderleith mentions) as to whether Rolfe could go further – e.g. to the national team – in such a role.

– Indoor soccer still exists? Well, I’ll be….

– Finally, The Offside Rules posted something pretty dang special. All y’all should see it. I won’t say what it is, ’cause I don’t want to spoil it….

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