(Apologies to D.C. fans for not posting this Supporter’s View from the weekend sooner. Although it’s a bit late, the D.C. perspective offered by Joel Sanderson still pretty much applies even after last night’s loss to Toronto FC.)
D.C. looked like it would find a victory out west, a precious three points to stem the tide and offer the club some sorely-needed relief from a disappointing early season.
Atiba Harris and friends ended those hopes with one three-goal flurry.
Chivas USA woke up just in time to slow its own struggles, rallying for a 3-1 victory and chance at catching the pack in the weak Western Conference. Whether the momentum will come with this win remains to be seen, but a sign of life is better than none (as D.C. fans can attest now).
SBI Correspondents John Sandate and Joel Sanderson took in the action at Home Depot Center on Saturday and shared their thoughts with us.
Second half changes spark Chivas USA rally
By JOHN SANDATE
Before this MLS season started, my friend Pepe thought getting Atiba Harris would pay dividends for Chivas USA. Well, Harris scored in second game against his old team, Real Salt Lake. He showed some flashes, but lacked that consistent, finishing touch. As a result he seemed to disappear from the line-up. Nevertheless, after going 0-4-1 since, Preki and his Chivas USA staff made some changes against DC United, including implementing a 3-4-3 formation and using Harris as a right mid. DC United is not just any team and despite their horrible start they are wily and still formidable team.
FIRST HALF: Chivas USA looked a little less lost than usual in the first half, which culminated in bickering players, missed scoring chances and a 1-6 shots on goal differential. Oh yeah, I forgot, Marcello Gashjardo (Christopher Sullivan pronunciation) scored a gorgeous left footed shot that stunned the Chivas fans on Disney Night. I wasn’t ready to face another loss, but it was hard to not to notice the determination of Gallardo, Santino Quaranta, and Jaime Moreno. Jesse Marsch was put in central defense and looked unhappy about it and on the other side, Sacha Kljestan started at center forward and looked like a shark in a fish pool. Regardless, of the changes it was only after the Gashjardo goal that woke up the Chivas offense. The crowd also seemed to awaken with each Chivas pass and attack.
SECOND HALF: Moderate changes for Chivas USA included switching Captain Marsch back in his natural defensive mid position and moving Gennaro Gattuso- impersonator, Daniel Paladini at central defense. DC United seemed to play like it was having a difficult time with the SoCal heat. On the field, it seemed to be pushing the mid 90’s. Add a long plane ride and it seemed to wear on the DC United defense. A bend don’t break mentality could only go so far. The flow of the game was back and forth for the first 20 minutes and then Chivas USA scored on a Jesse Marsch follow up shot from an Atiba Harris attack. Oh yeah, back to Atiba, somebody must have told him this would be his last game on earth because he played possessed. Like his-life-depended-on-it possessed. He was man of the match, without a doubt his attacks on the right better have turned some heads on the staff. He looked natural on the right side. Kljestan scored shortly thereafter on another play that Harris started and Jorge Flores, bless his heart, scored his first MLS goal on a, you guessed it, Harris assist.
Given the way this team has played lately, watching Chivas USA win its first come from behind game ever was a blessing. In spite of the record, the indifference of the local media, and all the injuries that this team has sustained, Chivas USA looked like a team with heart and passion. All players showed a better body language. Ante Razov looked angry after being replaced by Flores, but you couldn’t deny his fiery play. The goals didn’t come, but at least he gave it his all, something that has been missing in past games. This team seemed to respond to that. Including one Atiba Harris, who made the most of his start. All he needed was a chance.
How to fix the broken club known as D.C. United
By JOEL SANDERSON
I am in need of a nap.
It was an exhausting weekend for many reasons. Adding in the emotional disaster that is rooting for DC I am just broken. (I am also a Cavs fan, so that doesn’t help)
So, as my mind spirals into numbness and detachment, I’ve decided to reorganize the DC line-up so the team will at least be fun to watch. If you would like to read my reaction to the Chivas game, read the last few columns. They actually played okay for a half offensively, but their defense couldn’t stop a team consisting entirely of contestants on The Biggest Loser.
Let’s begin with the position of keeper.
Obviously it is imperative that Zach Wells get replaced. Carvallo must be pretty bad for Wells to keep getting beat like this. So for the fans’ sake, we’re going to bring back Tony Meola. He’ll make the routine plays and it’ll be a nice “hey, how’s your mother?” to Red Bulls fans.
And onto defense.
I’d like to first point out that this team will run a 4-3-2-1, primarily because I like counting down.
In the Chivas game, DC proved that Peralta is not the whole problem. Still, he’s not seeing the field. Martinez is. He’s been viable. Namoff is out though. He’s wicked boring. Alongside Martinez, Mike Zaher will hold down the right side. Young blood can’t be worse, or more boring, than Namoff.
Next to Martinez in the middle will be Jeff Agoos. Again, this has the benefit of angering Red Bulls fans by pulling him out of the front office. I almost went with the complete unknown Jeff Carroll because he’s pretty, but then decided against it.
On the outside left, Marc Burch can stay, not because he’s playing that well, but because the guy playing in front of him will protect him when he pushes up. Trust me on this one. You’ll see.
The midfield actually won’t look that different. Quavas Kirk will run the right wing and make the national team. Kirk looks sometimes like he could be a legitimate soccer player. He might be good enough that someone would be willing to pay him real money, not the $20 per game plus a $7 meal allotment the MLS pays. Clyde Simms will continue to be a poor man’s Shalrie Joseph, or a homeless man’s Javier Mascherano. I would have included Devon McTavish, if only for the opportunity to think about his name in an Irish accent, but I’m trying to do this with just healthy players.
So on the left is Nani. He’s obviously a phenomenal player. DC has some money to burn and since there’s no way that the second DP slot gets used on Emilio (right?), Nani seems like the obvious choice. Of course, it might be better to grab a better tackler, so Clichy might work too. Dan Stratford got a look from me too because English people are supposed to be good at soccer, as long as there isn’t a major international team tournament going on.
The attacking mid is easy and predictable. Gallardo is starting to show his talent. Quaranta has been doing it all season. Beautiful.
But who to finish?
That’s the question I don’t know. Since the second DP slot has already been used on Clichy or Nani, the player has to be domestic or on the roster. I vote nay to the current roster of forwards unless the team is playing Chelsea. If DC were playing Chelsea, I would vote the Emilio starts and hope that Ashley Cole and John Terry find a way to cause him pain. I don’t want him to get severely injured; I just don’t want him on the field.
So starting up top for DC United, Ives Galarcep! How do you like them apples, Red Bulls fans?
If he’s not available, I guess it’ll be Freddy Adu. The second chance worked for Quaranta…