When the MLS schedule was released you just know Christian Gomez circled the first meeting against D.C. United. After being dealt away by D.C., the former MLS MVP had every reason to want to show that his former club made a mistake in letting him go.
Gomez certainly left D.C. wondering whether it made a mistake of unloading him after the Argentine playmaker set up two goals in Colorado’s 2-0 victory against a lifeless D.C. squad. The win has Colorado in first place in the woeful West while the loss left D.C. United scrambling for answers as to why the club just can’t get going.
SBI Correspondents Craig de Aragon and Joel Sanderson took in the action and share their takes on the match with us:
Sweet revenge for former D.C. players as Rapids roll
By CRAIG de ARAGON
What is the German word for “dominated”? I believe its “Das United”. If not, it should be when DC United visits the Mile High City. United has a long history of struggling in the thin air of Denver. It was no exception on the week that DC has been rumored to finally put something on the front of their conspicuously bare kits (The Volkswagen logo).
The Colorado Rapids played like a brand new BMW, while DC lumbered around like a broken down 1985 VW Cabriolet. The Rapids came out firing on all cylinders with former DCU star, Christian Gomez sparking the offense. Gomez was Colorado’s ultimate offensive machine, leading the attack, while providing crisp passes and sharp crosses all game. He even showed something to the Colorado fans that they hadn’t seen yet, an ability to shift into 5th gear and make long runs from the midfield into goal scoring positions.
The Ghost of United’s past was not done haunting yet, after assisting on a Jacob Peterson goal, Christian Gomez then assisted on a Facundo Erpen headed goal, sealing the victory. DC had no answer to their former players, but that was not the end of the story. Everyone on the field for the Rapids played well. On a day that the starting lineup was shaken up with 5 different starters and a formation change, the Rapids played like a team that has taken the field together for years.
Fernando Clavijo started the year with using a 4-5-1 with Omar Cummings being the lone striker up top until Tam McManus was signed, and then they alternated games atop the formation. However, against DC with more healthy bodies available, the Rapids switched to a 4-4-2 with McManus and Cummings on the field at the same time.
What a move!
The combination proved to be lethal all day; they had chances all game, the only thing missing was the final touch. One thing has to be said about Clavijo, for all his faults in the past, it seems like he’s not asleep at the wheel this year. He’s not being stubborn; he’s not playing guys that aren’t performing. In years past he would run Jovan Kirovski, Niko Hernandez, Thiago Martins, out on the pitch expecting them to ignite the offense, when there were young, capable guys on the bench that could have performed to the same capability, if not superior.
This year it looks like he’s playing the hot hand, looking at the results from training and rewarding players for their efforts during the week. For example, Jordan Harvey, no one has ever heard of him outside of the die hard fans. But he’s put his time in, played on the reserve team, worked his butt off, and finally has showed the consistency to crack the starting line up, over Jose Burciaga Jr..
It would be one thing to throw guys out there and hope for the best, but these guys are performing, which says something to the depth to this team. And if they don’t, in the case of Stephen Keel, then, you’re going back to the bench. I think that’s the perfect strategy for this team. The depth allows for consequences of poor play. The players look like they’re being pushed by each other and I believe this team will reap the benefits come the end of the season. The formula is simple, keep doing what you did today Rapids, and “Championship Road” will be paved in burgundy and sky blue.
Fans still waiting for D.C. United to wake up
By JOEL SANDERSON
Remember what is was like watching a DC game and thinking “any minute now, they’re going to take the lead?” Or after the other team went up a goal thinking “looks like they’re just going to have to score two.”
Those times are over folks. In the first scenario, the closest thought is “man, I hope we can pull one out against the run of play.” In the second, “maybe they can get one and at least salvage a point.”
And to think, DC – Colorado could have been a good game a few years ago, with DC as the favorite no doubt. This year it was MVP versus MVP, each having earned the honor with DC. One didn’t get the ball much and when he did, couldn’t have waddled himself past a chair. The other was busy, cutting through something that I am wont to refer to as a “defense” and moving all around the field. One might be good enough to win another MVP. The other might be good enough to not get cut this off-season, but I guess depends on whether he stops working out by walking to Dairy Queen. I, for one, am skeptical.
Really, I’m not quite sure what else to say. I think we can definitively say that the defense is going to be a weak point for a while. The first half wasn’t fantastic for either side. There was a little hope for DC, but maybe it’s best not to get our hopes up.
There is one thing that I have not commented on thus far in the season, but that I feel morally required to bring up: the 3-5-2. I think the 3-5-2 can be a great formation if the defense and the defensive midfielders have any idea what they’re doing. It can make for a very fun style of soccer to watch.
But DC doesn’t have those things. DC’s back three in this case can’t play together. They’ve proven now in every game that they don’t stay in position and they don’t cut off angles. The Rapids got of 17 shots, in part because the DC back line just slides backwards when being attacked instead of getting somewhere that could disrupt the play.
Maybe if the midfielders could hold the ball. They had all that practice in the Toronto game earlier in the year just playing with the ball. This time there were five guys in the midfield and they still couldn’t string together any passes that didn’t end up being quickly disrupted getting sent back to the back three, or Wells even.
Tom Soehn needs to get it together and get this team at least competitive. Over the season the kinks might work themselves out, but not if he has the whole thing twisted up to start with.
I’m tired of watching games and hoping for a tie. Sure DC always loses in Colorado, but this game didn’t even retain hope that United could squeak out a 1-0 win. There are a lot of things that need to be fixed. Maybe the players are fine and just need to get used to each other, but the season has started. Six games represents 20 percent of possible points and DC has six points. Good thing there’s no such thing as relegation.