Tampa Bay Sports Day

Wizard of Oz 2, Kansas City 1

It took six games and some wizardry from Aussie import Danny Allsopp for DC United to get it right and bring forth a win. Coach Curt Onalfo left some of his higher priced players on the bench and allowed DC United Academy product Bill Hamid a chance to set an MLS record for youngest winning goalkeeper in MLS history.

The youngster rose to the occasion with several brilliant saves and a stead y presence in the box against eleven corner kicks. He was well supported by the hard work of the entire team in front of him. Tino Quaranta, who came on late to minimize stress on a bone bruise on his foot, fell right in with the team’s mutual support concept, “If a guy didn’t make the play, somebody backed him up.”

Clyde Simms put in yet another strong effort paired with continued strong focus by Kurt Morsink, “We talked about effort. I think that’s where those extra balls won in the middle were coming from,” said Simms. “The communication was good tonight from the two center backs to Kurt and me in the middle.”

Their success in clogging the center grew out of Onalfo’s recognition of the Wizards’ formation, “We talked about the way that [Kansas City] plays, they really play a 4-5-1 and basically we’re in a 4-4-2 so we’re outnumbered in the middle of the midfield so tactically you have to do a good job of how do you deal with that extra player and that’s what we worked on in the last couple of days.”

With renewed confidence in support behind them, United’s midfielders committed early to tackles, which disrupted Kansas City’s rhythm. This tactic of “diving in” yielded a few extra cautions and increased pressure on the defense. It succeeded only because of excellent team discipline.

As the midfield pressured KC, the wide defenders, Rodney Wallace and Jordan Graye shaded to the center, ceding the wings to the Wizards. It played into the opponent’s tendencies. “That’s the way they play, with two wingers up high. So a lot of times they’re gonna get the ball out wide”, noted Simms.

Carey Talley has worn the Captain’s armband for several games now, a tribute to his insight and guidance of the younger players, especially Graye, “I think that the fact that we were able to have them try to play around us makes it a lot easier for a team to defend.

“It’s when balls are being played through us that’s the toughest thing and that’s what we’ve been having in the first five games. Balls were just played through huge gaps to guys running at goal. Now we kept our shape, we kept our discipline. We were a solid four. We were a solid six sometimes.

“The ball goes out on the wing, we cover in the middle, the winger gets beat, and the center back is over to help. Things like that just enable guys to read each other when you keep your discipline like that. I thought we did pretty good.”

During Graye’s debut, Talley had told him that the way to adjust to the fast Brek Shea was to shade to the center and yield the wide side. He explained how that worked, “as long as he’s not out on the wing where the guy can run in behind him. You saw it his first game the other night. It happened a couple of times. He’s (Graye) the fastest guy on the field, hands down, but was getting beaten behind because he was too far out on the wing. He was closer in this time so if the ball is over his head, he can close him down and nail him in the corner.”

A final change in United’s approach to the game was the choice to rip shots from outside that yielded Allsopp his two goals. It is interesting to note that his chance for a hat trick went awry when he opted for placement instead of power.

DC United has a history of being cute and creative and frustrating fans. Jaime Moreno, who rarely chooses to shoot, did make one attempt from outside the penalty area, but his choice of placement over power yielded a miss wide left.

Talley attributed Allsopp’s ripped shots to the Aussie’s background, “That’s the style of player Danny is. He’s played in England for a long time and in the A league. You’ve got a lot of guys from England playing there, or who’ve been in England. They’re goal scoring opportunists. Put your head down, put your toe down, smash it.”

As a defender himself, he recognizes the value of a varied attack,“It definitely keeps goalkeepers honest. When there are shots being taken outside, it opens it up for little slips inside to maybe put past him….If they know that you’re just gonna play pretty and try to walk it into goal, they can keep you in front of them the whole time and not have to worry about you getting in behind. If they have to defend against the shot from thirty yards, the defenders gotta make a decision.”

Soccer historically rewards intuitive forwards and disciplined defenders. Contrast Talley’s analytical approach to that of Allsopp. Here’s his analysis of his first goal – “I can’t really remember it at the moment. I don’t think I thought about it too much, and that’s probably the best thing really – to get a chance and just not think about it. I tried to connect [with the ball] but I can’t remember too much about it.”

DC United now travels to Dallas Saturday with several impact players relatively rested. Onalfo relied on his system to get results while keeping his players reasonably fresh. A hallmark of the Houston Dynamo success has been the interchangeability of many players. Perhaps Onalfo is onto something.

Scoring Summary:

DC — Danny Allsopp 1 (Rodney Wallace 1) 12
DC — Danny Allsopp 2 (Adam Cristman 1) 34
KC — Kei Kamara 3 (Josh Wolff 1, Teal Bunbury 1) 92+

Misconduct Summary:

KC — Ryan Smith (caution; Reckless Tackle) 50
DC — Danny Allsopp (caution; Reckless Tackle) 56
DC — Christian Castillo (caution; Reckless Tackle) 59
DC — Kurt Morsink (caution; Persistent Infringement) 72
KC — Michael Harrington (caution; Reckless Tackle) 88
DC — Santino Quaranta (caution; Reckless Tackle) 89

Kansas City Wizards — Jimmy Nielsen, Michael Harrington, Jimmy Conrad, Pablo Escobar, Santiago Hirsig (Kei Kamara 46), Stephane Auvray (Craig Rocastle 73), Roger Espinoza, Jack Jewsbury, Chance Myers (Teal Bunbury 51), Ryan Smith, Josh Wolff.

D.C. United — Bill Hamid, Jordan Graye, Carey Talley, Juan Manuel Pena (Devon McTavish 88), Rodney Wallace, Thabiso Khumalo (Santino Quaranta 79), Kurt Morsink, Clyde Simms, Christian Castillo, Adam Cristman (Jaime Moreno 71), Danny Allsopp.

Referee: Alex Prus
Referee’s Assistants: James Conlee; Peter Balciunas
4th Official: Chris Penso
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Partly cloudy, 82 degrees

Attendance: 10,038