Ignore the headline: this wasn’t that bad a loss. Well, it was and it wasn’t. DC United held up pretty well for 70+ minutes and in a tough venue against a savvy team. Moreover, the goal scored by Luis Montes, which undid DC’s worthy fight for a result, was equal parts smart and fluky; never let it be said the Americans gave up a soft goal. OK, the second goal, maybe that one was soft, but the other was a low-mid-percentage rocket: good shot, good goal…y’know, what can you do?
(Hey, hey: interesting side-note: with MLSnet.com eating too much to open, I had to force quit my web browser in order to find an article; the one I did find showed up on Google News’ crawl – that feels so Big Time!)
Without laboring the point, it’s worth noting that Pachuca could have had more: in fact, they squandered a couple positively gilded chances, most notable among them a cross that dropped delicately over a defender to Juan Carlos Cacho, open just outside the six. How the forward managed to fire straight at Wells, I’ll never know (thanks, Goff, for providing names in your piece).
No less significantly, DC had their chances – including a solid spell around the 70th minute, well after their legs seemed to have left them. And, as the report I linked to above mentions the Major League Soccer (MLS) club started pretty brightly, both keeping possession and slowing down the game. Putting the loss down to heavy legs seems wise, but, without having read anything about it, that’s a best guess. On the bright side, though, heading back to DC only two goals down isn’t the end of the world. Unlikely as it may be, this remains a winnable series. So…good luck, DC. Do us proud next week, ‘kay?
I’ll close with some other thoughts, most of them about DC:
– No Blushing: OK, to start with one about Pachuca: I rate them pretty highly, which is one reason I’m less disappointed than I might have been. Their individual skill and technique is first-rate (for CONCACAF, anyway) and they just play real purty. Sure, I’d prefer a win for the MLS club, but there’s certainly no shame in losing to Pachuca – especially in Mexico.
– The Gonzalos: These cats look good – as in, putting MLS on notice good. Gonzalo Peralta is a presence and a savvy one, while Gonzalo Martinez combines speed, smarts, tenacity in cover. To top it off, they seem to work well together.
– Clyde Needs No Bonnie: Clyde Simms imposes himself pretty effectively. Good asset for the club.
– Niell Might Need Bonnie: Franco Niell has gone from interesting prospect to a player who needs to show me something. He simply hasn’t impressed so far. (OK, fer reals: is it “nee-ell” or just “neel”? I need to know what to say when I’m talking to myself during the game.)
– Guess Who Did?: If DC fans are looking for the player on the roster likeliest to replace Jaime Moreno, they should look to Santino Quaranta. Shocking as the episode with the shot to the chest seemed to me, I couldn’t find fault with any of the decisions Quaranta made; hell, more than a couple were applause-worthy.
– Back to “Not Getting” Fred: I phrased this badly this first time I raised the issue. When I say I “don’t get” Fred, I mean I’m not sure he brings what DC needs to the game. His tendency to run inside from the flank exacerbates DC’s issues with crowding the middle; that’s to say I think they’d be better served by more of a “winger” on the left. I’m not saying they should ditch Fred, just that they’d be well-served by having a viable, or at least competent, option.
– Emilio = Giraffe-on-an-Iced-Over-Lake-Wearing-Roller-Skates: He’s one of the least graceful players in MLS to watch. Effective as he is (or was in ’07, at least), however, there’s no reason to care.
– So…Was Wells to Blame?: I mean on the first goal. That’s tough. Wells made a decision to cheat on the cross, an entirely defensible option. He got burned for it, so in that sense, yeah, he’s at fault; moreover, my guess is Montes noticed him cheating and capitalized. Still, the goal was his fault, but he wasn’t really at fault….know what I mean?
OK, that’s enough. Hope the second leg goes better – either that or that the Houston Dynamo wins tonight. I’d really love to watch an MLS club in the World Club Cup.