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A Supporter’s View: D.C. United


It took a while, but that vaunted D.C. United attack finally flexed its muscle on Saturday, netting four goals against a short-handed Toronto FC (though two goals came with TFC at full-strength). Saturday’s 4-1 win should help ease at least a bit of the pressure of a D.C. team that enters the 2008 season with high expectations.

SBI correspondent Joel Sanderson will take the victory, but he is far from completely satisfied after taking in the match at RFK Stadium on Saturday. He gives us his take on D.C. United’s first victory of the season (Feel free to provide your reaction to Joel’s piece in the comments section below):

A blowout win will do, for now

By Joel Sanderson

After a 4-1 win I can tell you one thing, our players sure do think that they’re hot stuff. They aren’t showboating or taunting, but they do the kinds of little things that would annoy the living bejeebuz out of me if I were an opposing player. I’ll cut them some slack though as they just annihilated Toronto with two goals in the first five minutes.

The 2-0, that was nice. While taking advantage of sloppy defense may not be as pretty as a well-developed attack, it’s nice to know that the guys can score the easy ones. If we score 75% of the easy ones this season, we shall be unstoppable.

More than those first two goals, what really got me excited was the man, the myth, the legend, Santino Quaranta. He’s good. We knew he was good. But we drafted him oh so many years ago to be great. He traveled the league and has come back home to prove that he’s not just another talented player who never puts it all together. He’s 23. He’s been capped 11 times. Now it’s his turn to take over the MLS.

If you watch the game, it might be a stretch to say he “took over,” but would you have wanted to be playing against him? Good Lord no! He was finding seams, taking shots, and slipping sweet passes. Now THAT’s the man I want on the field every game. As much as I love the name McTavish, I am currently more excited about the Quaranta era (again) than the McTavish era. Eventually it can be the Quaranta-McTavish era and that’ll just solve all of our problems. He took like five shots. He even put some of them on goal! If he gets five shots per game, we’ll pretty much destroy people because Master Emilio knows how to slip a rebound by the keeper.

As far as what happened after the apparently vicious Harmse tackle (it didn’t look so bad to me, even in slow motion, but everyone else tells me it was terrible. Feel free to hit me in the head for my ignorance), we played well. The defense was arguably a bit sloppy. Passing the ball around the back all the time. I was petrified that we were getting too cute and Robert was going to nick one of those and go in on goal. Yeesh. In general, the 10-men Toronto team seemed to get a few too many half-chances. They were bound to score eventually.

And what’s with all the toying with the ball on the sidelines? It looked nice. Well, it was nice. That was another good sign. At least against a 10-man team, we can hold the ball like no other team in the MLS. I’m pretty sure there was a 10 minute period in the second half when every player on DC touched the ball while Toronto players ran around thinking “why me?” And that works for me. I must admit though, I would have liked to see, I don’t know, a shot or two during said period of complete dominance. And I could have used about 5 fewer inane heel passes from Fred.

At least Niell came in and, dropped that nifty pass to Moreno. That was actually my favorite play of the night. Niell choosing to stay on two feet and showing some cleverness while the hero shows that he can still place the ball.

Now onward and upward to a 3-0 victory over Pachuca! We’re warmed up now folks.


  1. I don’t think that my comments conflict with really anything you said Nick. I don;t disagree with everything you had to say, though I don’t agree with everything either. Maybe the closest thing is the holding of the ball and while they may not have switched fields or broken into transition, but by that point, transition wasn’t a big thing. Sure, they could have switched the ball a bit more, but what impressed me was the ability to play in a phone booth and keep the ball, even if it was a bit annoying.

    I have yet to make a decision on any of the new guys. I have my leanings, but I’m definitive at all.

    I do agree that Simms was everywhere on Saturday. Go Kickers… I mean DCU!

  2. As a long time DCU fan, I saw this game very differently.

    Franko Neil is probably the worst forward signing by DC since Bethy Suarez in 96. He was in position to take the 2nd forward position and at 156k you would expect that. Instead, he has already fallen behind Moreno and a motivated Quaranta who is making on 35k but with incentives.

    It seems as if it took Quaranta staring at the end of his career to realize he need to make some big changes. The first signs are encouraging but when it comes to Quaranta, Mr Ego/Party/try to keep up with Benie – I’m skeptical.

    Emilio was off on the night. He passed when he should have shot and shot when he should have passed. He also had trouble controlling the ball with his back to goal.

    The 3 players that had a terrific night were Fred, whose is playing on another level, Simms who cleaning up all the sloppy passing in the middle and slowed down TFCs counters, and Quaranta who gave some energy up front.

    Gallardo has amazing vision and an terrific touch. He can thread through balls 40 yards with just the right weight. The problem is he is way tool slow in transition. This might be a matter of adjusting to MLS so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

    The Gonzalaz boys at centerback played very well but continue to have problems adjusting with Wells. They are a major upgrade to the Boswell/Vanney tandem of last year.

    Speaking of Wells, he clearly does not seem to command his penalty area and has been prone to making positional mistakes. At this point I’d like to see Carvello take a spell at keeper.

    Finally, you make note of DC’s possession game. I thought it was actually poor. Yes we held the ball but did a very poor job of switching the field of play or moving quickly into transition. Sohen was so upset on the sidelines when DC was up by a man that he kept calling McTavish and Burch and later Namoff to the sideline telling them to play wider and more quickly.

    A good win for DC. But the scale of the win could be more about the poor play of TFC than great play by United.

    Come on get some bit in the discussion on DCU.

  3. I’m fine with holding the ball, it’s just the way they were doing it. I hate to just pick on Fred, but he wasn’t just passing the ball around. He was trying to be fancy. It’s not that they should have been trying to score, not at all. Sometimes it just seemed like the guys were showing off their ability to pass the ball like a high school cone drill. I want them to be able to play in tight spaces, but we were up 3-0.

    Knock the ball around the back, bring it up the wings, put it back into the middle, knock it back if need be. That would have been better than the way they fiddled with it on the sidelines. But that’s just a peripheral annoyance for me. I know all too well watching the Liverpool Arsenal game that pushing too high late in the game can leave you wide open.

  4. Joel, thanks for the writeup.

    I think that the red card on Harmse was a bit harsh, but as my tailor says, ‘you reap what you sew’. TFC tends to substitute aggressiveness and hustle for soccer sometimes. That’s not their fault – they don’t have creative players to play a pretty game. Perhaps that’s Mo’s influence – as a player nobody would ever have confused him with Ronaldinho.

    My only real quibble with your article is with your characterization of holding the ball as toying with it, or just fooling around. It’s called killing off a game. It’s pretty naive to be pushing forward all the time. All that does is stretch you out and give the opponent a chance to steal the ball and launch a quick counter. Rather, when you have a lead, and esp. when your opponent is down a man, stretch them out, make them run. Being exhausted will make most teams lose their will to play.

  5. Gallardo is nice and all, but I didn’t see anything in him that made me think, “Hey, now we’re the team to beat.” Well, I think we’re the team to beat anyway, but that’s beside the point. He had a few errant plays, but in general played well. Let’s see how he does for a few more games before getting too excited. On the other hand, I really like saying his name.

  6. Nice article. Quaranta is definitely looking better then Franco “I want to flop around more than Ruiz” Neill right now. They need a descent 3rd striker since Moreno has been getting old and getting hurt the past few years.

  7. Joel!?!? I can’t believe your journalistic super-abilities have lacked big time??

    Absolutely no mention of Marcello Gallardo!?!?!!?!?

    Ah well, I hope he does nothing for you guys in the future as well!!

  8. whoaa, calm down there, champ. just because quaranta tried harder at dc as opposed to your pathetic excuse for a club that should be named the new jersey metrostars does not mean you should hate him. instead, you should embrace the fact that he realized which team was truly better. THAT’s talent.

  9. I hate Quaranta, and hope NEVER to see him play for country, EVER.

    Bad enough he’s on the DC roster. Sure, the rivalry makes me hate all players wearing the DC kit. But usually I can get beyond that if they done USA colors.

    It’s the fact that NY gave him a chance and he was ABSOLUTE garbage for us. WTF!! Look, I don’t hate Zack Wells. He did his best while in NY.

    But to me, Quaranta is a whiny peice of garbage I wouldn’t spit on if the chewing tobacco was choking me.

  10. I am in Virginia on business and have taken advantage of that time to see 2 DC United games–Harbor View & Toronto FC, I’m hooked. These were my first chances to see MLS live as I come from a place with no pro soccer. DC United has a new fan in me.

    Quaranta looks confident and comfortable which is good. I did think there were a few times he took one touch too many and lost possesion when the open pass was there but overall he has been impressive.

    I’m not too hyped over Niell, he’s tiny, not sure how much of an impact he’ll have and he seems reluctant to pull the trigger and shoot.

  11. Nice post. DC and KC are the most interesting teams this year what with all the new talent each team brought in. I have always considered that DC should be the flagship team of the MLS (instead of the Galaxy). However, I think your love for the club has really had a serious impact on your reasoning. You’re weaving some big dreams if you think DC will beat Pachuca by three goals.


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