D.C. United’s rapid recovery and rise up the East standings took a familiar step last weekend, as the Red Bulls rekindled the roll of D.C. punching bag in a 4-1 blowout loss. The match showed just how much better D.C. is playing than it was a month ago, while also revealing for all to see just how far away the Red Bulls are from being a legitimate contender.
Luciano Emilio continued to work his way back into MVP form, shredding the normally reliable Red Bulls defense as the D.C. attack barely missed a beat without Marcelo Gallardo. The Red Bulls, missing Juan Pablo Angel and Claudio Reyna along with the departed Jozy Altidore, wasn’t quite as lucky.
SBI Correspondents Joel Sanderson and Andrew Keh watch the blowout and shared their thoughts on the match with us:
Rain can’t put a damper on United’s blowout win
By JOEL SANDERSON
Clyde Simms. Are you KIDDING me? Clyde Simms! You know it’s been a good day when Clyde Simms scores a goal. Of course, that only definitively qualifies two days as good days.
But it was a good day. A Great Day!
In the pouring rain, the game played on. No flooding RFK this time. Just pure unadulterated domination. We finally got to see the Red Bulls for what the really are: just as mid-level as usual. And we got to see DC for what it really is: a team nobody wants to play except for LA. (That game two weeks ago is going to be incredibly ridiculous. I might take the over on nine.)
The Red Bulls game was justice. I know Red Bulls fans have been watching DC struggle this season. I’ve been mocked by Red Bulls fans.
“How does it feel?” they’ve asked, smugly.
I’ve got a simple response.
“I don’t know, you tell me.
“Oh, and say hello to Jozy, you know, when he visits for a National Team friendly later this year."
I don’t mind some good taunting, but you better expect the same if your boys don’t back it up.
That’s right. Welcome to MLS ladies and gentlemen, where the fields are artificial and DC United is always near the top.
Heady words about a team holding dearly to the last playoff spot with a game in hand, just a point above New York with two games in hand. But seriously folks, this is a team other teams know can score.
Did you see that statistic? Eight shots on goal. That’s a solid game. I’m not going to go so far as to claim Jon Conway hadn’t wandered himself miles out of the way like he was playing for Greece, but I wouldn’t have put my money on him stopping that first goal even if in position.
The score was 3-0 at half and good old Tommy Soehn tells us that he wasn’t that impressed. Well Tommy, me neither. You couldn’t coach defense if Terry and Marquez were heading up the back line. Maybe he’d be better if he didn’t look like the manager of my local Circuit City.
But this offense will beat any team into submission. And the midfield has stopped worrying about the back line enough that it just pushed and pushes. So there has been some improvement back there. That first hald was sillier because the ball kept switching ends. Normally there is some build up in the midfield. Instead it seemed like the ball was in some way allergic to the middle third, like England is allergic to showing up in big games.
That made for a very exciting time for us DC supporters. That’s actually for a couple of reasons. One was that the DC offense has finishers like Emilio and Clyde Simms… wait. The DC offense has finishers like Emilio and anomalies like Clyde Simms. New York was so astounded that he had the ball after that free kick. The players were just like “so…should we just let him sky one over the goal or something like usual. Huh? Did he just? You’ve got to be kidding me.”
And the Red Bulls are incapable of shots on goal. If there were points awarded for creating chances, they (and every other team against DC defense) would have been even with DC. But that is not the case. The New York players appear to have developed the skill of almost. They almost kick the ball towards the goal when on a break, but then they wait to long. They almost head the ball in the right direction. They don’t almost think about winning.
Especially in that second half. If there were ever a game were four goals against might make a team feel lucky, this would be it. Maybe the Red Bulls were unlucky not to have a few more goals, but the score could have been much worse.
Some people might read this and think, “typical arrogant DC fan.” I’m happy to laud other teams when they’re playing well. I fear LA, sure. But DC is good. DC is fun to watch. And DC finally has an identity and an entire front five who can score. DC may not get the Supporters’ Shield this year, but come playoff time, the seeding won’t matter. What will matter is that the ball is in the back of the net.
Loss to D.C. was ugly, but Olsen helps ease the pain
By ANDREW KEH
Red Bull fans, when D.C. United gets you down, just watch and make fun of Ben Olsen’s Dick’s Sporting Goods commercial.
I was feeling a bit blue after D.C. picked the Red Bulls apart, 4-1. But as I watched Euro 2008 and the USA-Barbados match Sunday, the ad, which aired about 60 times on ESPN 2, cheered me up big time.
As the camera fades in, Olson, wearing his D.C. United jersey top, ambles up to a branch of Dick’s Sporting Goods with his wife and young son. This man is an athlete, we quickly realize. He must have come straight from a game.
“I’m gonna meet the boys,” Olsen tells his family, before finding Brian Ching, Duilio Davino, and Christian Gomez—who all must have come straight from games as well— sitting and watching television in the store. “What’s up, fellas?” Olsen says.
Till then, Olsen was doing fine. He walked up to the store pretty good. He walked inside the store pretty good. But when he opens his mouth you quickly remember that the man has the charisma of a styrofoam plate.
“Whoa, you guys see that?” Brian Ching then asks his MLS buddies, more robotically than foam-like, as Dwayne DeRosario pulls a sick move on the TV screen. “I got that move,” Olsen gibes back, with all the charm of potted-cactus.
The four proceed to prance around the store, pulling sick moves around racks of assorted MLS paraphernalia, but because of the quick cuts and close-ups, it’s hard to tell if it’s really the MLS guys doing the tricks and juggles, or if the Dick’s Sporting Goods guys used a team of Brazilian body doubles instead.
In any case, Olsen suddenly realizes that he’s not seen his wife and kid for some time, and he runs to catch them before they exit the store. His wife then informs him that she’s bought their son a new shirt—a Beckham jersey.
The camera closes in on Olsen’s face. “Oh, you’re in trouble, boy,” he says, as he starts to run after the kid. Olsen is such a poor actor that you don’t believe he is joking. When he says, “You’re in trouble, boy,” there is so little irony in his voice, so little emotion on his face, that you actually feel sorry for the kid. Run away, little boy!
The ad fades out, and you assume kid is being yelled at in the car.
In between soccer games this weekend, I played 36 holes of golf with my dad. Playing golf, I realized, is a bit like watching the Red Bulls play. Both can have the tendency to feel like self-inflicted torture. You wonder why you do it at all. But when it’s over, you can’t wait to do it again.
To New England we go, then.