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Posted at 08:00 AM ET, 04/11/2011

D.C. United vs. Los Angeles match diary

I’ve always been careful on this blog to refer to United as United, and not “we”. That’s because I’m not on the team. I’m sitting on the couch in my slippers (no, I wasn’t at the game; I had a comedy show, so I DVR’d it). I get winded running for the Metro. I had college scouts visit my high school matches just to tell me to keep studying. United might be insulted if I refer to them and me collectively as “we”. Nonetheless, I’ve decided to start doing it; it’s just easier grammatically. And it makes some sense; we’re on the same side, if not on the same team. So, I hope WE get a win tonight, and if WE can’t hang with the likes of Beckham, Angel, and Juninho, then WE will certainly make ourselves feel better by playing Xbox and eating Oreos until WE pass out on the futon.

Good crowd tonight - Beckham brings in the casual fan. I don’t understand why some MLS fans complain about casual fans; every sport needs casual fans. Cubs games are populated entirely by 1) addictive personalities with unhealthy attachments to both alcohol and the Cubs, and 2) Lawyers with company tickets who spend the entire game on their cell phones. The first group hates the second group, but they shouldn’t: you need the second group’s money. The seat costs the same even if you’re only in it for five innings. You need the lawyers’ wives to drop $200 on pink hats and jerseys at the team shop. Those spendthrift, tourist fans are the economic engine that make a franchise economically viable. So let’s not get down on fair-weather fans; you don’t have to like them, but you have to like their money.

Ben continues to be unpredictable: Hamid | Burch, WHITE, Jakovic, Korb | Pontius, McCarty, Simms, Quaranta | Wolff, Brettschneider. Hamid and Quaranta don’t really surprise me, but I REALLY did not expect to see Ethan White instead of Perry Kitchen. (Post-game note: it turns out Kitchen was ruled out by the flu).

Donovan is not only not in the 11, he’s not on the bench. Some might be bummed that arguably the best player in MLS won’t be playing, but you know what: I’ve probably seen Donovan play 200 times. I don’t need to see him tonight.

Credit where credit is due: the field looks fantastic. Here’s kickoff...

3’ - Juninho with a screamer that doesn’t miss by much. He’s been in good form; we’d do well to contain him tonight. If he comes anywhere near my living room, I’m ready to shut him down.

9’ - Wolff plays in Pontius, and it looks like Franklin pushed him down. Does Okulaja even have a whistle? I’ve seen about six possible fouls and none have been called. If a referee forgot his whistle, would he possibly try to fudge his way through an entire match instead of admitting his mistake? Does a lost whistle come out of his paycheck? Those guys don’t make much.

11’ - Nice shot from Juninho, nice save from Hamid. Hamid’s first regular-season action of the year.

12’ - GOAL L.A.! Magee beats Korb to a Beckham corner and powers a header home. Well, that completely stinks. I said it in my match preview: L.A.’s set pieces are dangerous.

13’ - Is it just me, or are have United been the victims of some pretty lethal finishing over the last year? It seems like one chance always equals one goal these days. The man who could break that trend is in the building, but Chad Barrett is on the bench.

20’ - We’re 20 minutes in, and I think maybe one foul has been called. It’s Road Warrior out there - no rules.

26’ - Brutal challenge from Dunivant on Korb! That looks bad. Very bad. Watching the replay...ouch, for both. Neither player went in dirty, but they collided hard. Looks like Korb’s forearm hit Dunivant’s head. Dunivant’s arm hit Korb’s knee. Okulaja books Dunivant, and rightly so: he went in clean, but he was definitely late. Both are up now; if neither is hurt, that’s very lucky.

29’ - Jakovic with a chance on the ensuing set piece, but he shanks the volley. Someone will say “that’s why he’s a defender”...and yes, there it is (not sure who the commentator is). Dax should be taking set pieces instead of Tino.

34’ - White clears off the line! United are staggered in defense which lets De la Garza in behind, but Hamid, Korb and White do well to recover. Very nearly 2-0.

38’ - United have decent possession, but they’re not really threatening. That long, diagonal ball that Burch, Tino and Pontius like to play is the only thing that’s working even a little bit offensively.

39’ - Yellow for Tino for an elbow on Juninho. Eh, yeah, probably - not very vicious.

40’ - Yellow for Beckham for a hard tackle on Wolff. That was a really bad challenge, and watching the replay...yeah, that should have been a red. Complete scissor challenge. Two-footed, not going for the ball, put Wolff’s ankles in the vice. He probably wanted to get thrown out so he could attend Manchester United’s Champions League match against Chelsea this week.

45’ - Dunivant and Korb were down for several minutes. We’ve had three yellow cards and a goal. How many minutes of stoppage time? One. Because stoppage time is made up.

HALFTIME. United are playing hard but lack quality on offense. Najar me, Ben.

49’ - The commentators - whom I’ve figured out are the Galaxy’s guys - say “the only time United can get anything going offensively are when the Galaxy turn it over in the midfield.” So, great: even people who don’t care about our problems and aren’t really paying attention to what we’re doing can easily identify our shortcomings.

52’ - Davies on for Brettschneider...that sounds about right. I’m fine with putting the Blake Brettschneider era on pause for the moment.

54’ - United are playing the strangest possession game I’ve ever seen: they’re terrible at playing the ball around...just horrible. But they’re also hustling so hard that they always have it.

63’ - Score a goal score a goal score a goal scoreagoalscoreagoalscoreagoal SCORE A GOAL! I am getting really sick of this mediocrity. At least LOOK like MAYBE you’re going to score a goal. PRETEND. United are better than this (notice they’re not “we” when things are going badly).

65’ - Our strikers haven’t won a single thing all night. It’s partly poor service, but it’s also that our front men are getting out-muscled by the Galaxy defense.

66’ - Wolff gets through and forces Ricketts to come off his line to clear. At last - signs of life! Maybe United are lulling the Galaxy to sleep; I don’t even play for the Galaxy and it’s been working on me.

69’ - You have to admire the practicality of Mike Magee’s ancestors. “Look, we’re not screwing around with this ‘is it ‘a-c’ or just ‘c’?’ and ‘is it a big ‘g’ or a little ‘g’?’ bullcrap. It’s just Magee: M-A-G-E-E.”

72’ - Najar on for Korb, so I guess it’ll be a 3-5-2. Good - it’s time to go for broke.

74’ - Almost a goal for United! Pontius with a powerful header off a Quaranta corner, but Ricketts makes an amazing save. How did that stay out? I thought for sure that was a goal.

80’ - Beckham comes off for...Jovan Kirovski? What, junior? There’s no way that Jovan Kirovski is still alive.

80’ - Boskovic on for Dax. Dax didn’t do much tonight - we need better linking play from him.

83’ - Tino gets his second yellow, so he’s off. United are down to 10. Probably the right call - he got his foot too high and showed his studs. More unlucky than anything - he was going for the ball. And I’m going for the Oreos; things aren’t looking good.

87’ - Najar gives away a 40-yard back pass instead of sending in a cross. What is wrong with him? That was a Facundo Erpen-esque crazy back pass.

88’ - PENALTY UNITED! Davies makes a move around Gonzalez and goes down! Wow...that was minimal contact. How minimal? I had more contact with my high school girlfriend than Gonzales had with Davies there. That was Downy soft. We were owed some karma after the New England match, and we might have just balanced out right there.

89’ - GOAL UNITED! GOAL DAVIES! Rickets goes right and Davies chips it down the middle. It was the Eric Hassli penalty from Wednesday without the subsequent red card.

89’ - Davies tried to celebrate by getting in the VW show car, but the car was locked. Hey, Charlie: is a car-themed celebration really the best idea? That’s a rhetorical question: no, it is not.

90’ + 2 - Cross for Franklin and he misses an open goal! My heart skipped a beat there - I thought that was in.

FULL TIME. 1-1 tie. If you’re judging by hustle, United probably deserve a point. But if you’re judging by quality, United probably deserve to be sent to Guantanamo...that was ugly. And it took some good luck to even get a point; that was a ridiculously soft penalty call. I guess now I can stop complaining about the New England match (although, we were jobbed for two goals in that game. And Beckham should have been given a red for his tackle in the first half. So, yeah...I’m nowhere near done complaining).

Player ratings:

Hamid: 5. How often do we say this about United ‘keepers: didn’t have much to do...except pick the ball out of the net at least one time. He made a couple saves, but also had a pretty adventurous moment on a back pass in the second half.

Burch: 4. I don’t think he found anyone with a long ball all night, and he played one or two hospital balls in the back.

White: 5.5. I’ll be honest: I saw his name in the lineup and thought: “this is going to be trouble.” But he was good: he defended well and made good decisions. His score would be higher if he had done a better job of playing the ball out of the back.

Jakovic: 4. Shaky - every part of his game was just shaky. His passing, defense, and his one attempt at finishing were all shaky. His game was like Clash of the Titans: none of it was outright horrible, but all of it was at least a little bit bad.

Korb: 5. In spite of getting beat on the goal, he was one of the few guys who found a way to create some offense. His crossing was pretty good.

Pontius: 6. I thought he was hands down our best player, and he was unlucky not to score off of Quaranta’s corner.

Simms: 4. Probably his lowest score ever...a 4! I thought his linking play was lacking tonight.

McCarty: 4. Given how poorly our central midfield played, it’s natural to look at their central midfield to see who shut us down. And when we do that, we see that L.A. had Beckham and Juninho - two flair players - in the middle of the park. That’s not Toure and Dejong; our engine room needs to do a better job.

Quaranta: 3.5. He’s obviously hustling, and he’s trying to spark the offense, but, man...Lenny from Of Mice and Men had a more subtle touch than Tino. His hustle almost compensated for his poor touch, but the two yellows (which were probably deserved) hurt his score.

Wolff: 4.5. He had some decent touches, but it seemed like his movement dropped off as the game went on. His body language is making me think that he’s starting to get annoyed by the lack of service.

Brettschneider: 4. Decent effort, but didn’t do much. He didn’t hold the ball as well as he did against Colorado.

Subs:

Davies: 5.5. Was quiet until the penalty, which he did well to draw. He should thank the VW people for locking that car, though; I think the whole stadium would have descended into silent shock if he had gotten in and pretended to drive.

Najar: 4. He doesn’t look like he wants to be here. Andy: you know what other teen prodigy didn’t want to be here? Freddy Adu. And now he’s 35 and playing for FC Kebabostat in the Turkish pub league. Scared straight yet?

Boskovic: 4. Another “meh” performance. He’s supposed to be a razor-sharp passer; he’s more of a kiddie-scissors sharp passer.

By Jeff Maurer  |  08:00 AM ET, 04/11/2011

Tags:  United, Jeff Maurer

 
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