Tampa Bay Sports Day

Unimaginative play leaves DC United wanting

There are three reasons why a team may be unworthy of making the playoffs as most Sports betting sites say. They are a lack of talent, a lack of effort, and a lack of intelligent play. DC United has the talent, but puts out too much effort in poorly focused play.

In July, there were a couple of games when the team could be described as bereft of ideas. While players usually moved effectively to support teammates on defense, there were too few runs off the ball on attack.

Then things improved as coach Ben Olsen gradually brought his team along to a point in early September where they were making such runs for one another, not only in defense, but also in possession and on attack.

Somehow, that fluidity went away and United’s play and results have suffered greatly.

Perhaps fatigue played a part as United had two spurts of crowded play. Olsen pointed out that, “Flying back from Vancouver after a tough loss, I thought there were some heavy guys out there to push through it. The game plan was to grind it out, and we did it.”

However, the Fire were also tired and thus fatigue combined with mutual decisions to contest midfield aggressively, causing play naturally to become narrowed. Both teams played hard, but both also played unwisely.

Dwayne DeRosario, a hard working and clever player was hard on his teammates, “It’s frustrating because you want to see that commitment, you want to see that passion and desire to win every ball – to do whatever it takes to stop a shot or block a ball to stop a play – but that isn’t the case and I don’t see that right now.”

His viewpoint reflected mostly on Chicago’s exceptional defensive efforts. In a most unusual statistic, DC United took 13 shots of which 8 were deflected by Fire defenders almost immediately. Only the penalty kick was on goal

In contrast, the Fire had no shots deflected. Their errors were normally wide, high, or saved. They were not particularly worthy of the points they obtained either. Only incisive play at the very end redeemed their poor shooting earlier.

Team qualities, fatigue, and coaches’ recognition of both meant it would be a grinding game.

Olsen’s comment reflected that, “I thought they put a lot of numbers in the midfield – it’s a lot of work in there. That’s why we put some of the guys in early, to deal with that. We had to push the game and I thought we put the right guys in to get the game changed. I think everything worked out, except the last couple of minutes.”

The game opened with a few long forays by both sides and then deteriorated into narrow contests over possession. Width of play was lacking for the first twelve minutes. Then the Fire’s Marco Pappa started to exploit the space on Chicago’s right wing. His DC United counterpart, Austin Da Luz’ responded well, also playing wide.

Sadly, the good shape lasted for about another twelve minutes until both teams lapsed into a shortsighted, narrow style again. The emphasis on control distorted intelligent play and worsened the fatigue factor.

The surest way to save energy is to let the ball do the work. Certainly, pressing the ball is necessary and will concentrate players. Still, once one has possession it is far easier to let the ball do the work by making or finding space with wide play and insightful supporting runs into that space.

Late game fatigue leads to lapses in concentration and Olsen is certain to emphasize the need to maintain focus throughout United’s last two games on Wednesday and Saturday. In Vancouver, United gave up a goal in the first minute. At home, they lost focus late. Neither lapse is excusable in a professional team.

While players must accept responsibility for their own efforts and decision making, it is the role of the coaching staff to set them up for success. In the next few days, Olsen and company must somehow return the team to the intelligent play they had so recently displayed.

With two consecutive wins, a novel idea this year, and a Red Bull loss, United may yet see the post-season action they have thus far not merited.

Scoring:
DC — Dwayne De Rosario 15 (penalty kick) 90
CHI — Sebastian Grazzini 5 (Gonzalo Segares 4) 92+
CHI — Diego Chaves 5 (Gonzalo Segares 5, Orr Barouch 2) 94+

Lineups:

Chicago Fire — Sean Johnson, Michael Videira (Yamith Cuesta 19), Josip Mikulic, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares, Logan Pause, Sebastian Grazzini, Daniel Paladini (Diego Chaves 89), Marco Pappa, Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro (Orr Barouch 73). Substitutes Not Used: Corben Bone, Baggio Husidic, Pari Pantazopoulos, Jon Conway.

D.C. United — Bill Hamid, Chris Korb, Brandon McDonald, Perry Kitchen, Daniel Woolard, Andy Najar, Stephen King (Marc Burch 75), Clyde Simms, Austin Da Luz (Santino Quaranta 57), Dwayne De Rosario, Josh Wolff (Charlie Davies 79). Substitutes Not Used: Blake Brettschneider, Joseph Ngwenya, Ethan White, Joe Willis.

Misconduct:
CHI — Josip Mikulic (caution; Reckless Foul) 46
DC — Andy Najar (caution; Reckless Foul) 76
CHI — Orr Barouch (caution; Dissent) 78

Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee’s Assistants: Greg Barkey, Matthew Kreitzer
4th Official: Terry Vaughn

Attendance: 16,548
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Clear and 66 degrees