Sunday, October 15, 2006

Roll 'em up -- they're done. No, not the Mets, though I am not very confident they will be able to turn it around. I mean D.C. United. They may have won the "Supporters' Shield" for the best record in their regular season, but they are not going into the playoffs as the best team. In fact, right now, they stink. I have tickets coming to me -- won in a lottery -- for the MLS Cup. I entered the drawing when it appeared that United was the heavy favorite to get to and win the Cup final. At this writing, I would be very surprised if United made it to the final.

The Chicago Fire and the New England Revolution both appear to be better teams than United -- at least, right now. The Fire, who beat United today by a 3-2 score, really have D.C.'s number. United's marking was simply atrocious. In the first 25 minutes, they surrendered a penalty kick that goalie Nick Rimando stopped, and then allowed two goals in quick succession. On the other end of the field, United's attack was only slightly more convincing. United did get a goal in the 34th minute. Freddy Adu had a strong run, pushing through the Fire defense and then passed to Christian Gomez who made a spectacular shot to chip it over two defenders and beat the Fire goalie. In the second half, after the Fire had increased the lead to 3-1, Adu and Gomez connected again. Even though the sideline referee was probably the only person who didn't notice that Gomez was offside, Adu delivered a perfect pass and Gomez finished with another nice bit of skill, to notch his 14th goal of the year. Gomez and Adu turned in good efforts, but the rest of the team failed to show up.

In truth, United had a chance to tie this game. Ben Olsen took a pass right in front of the net and made a great effort to strike it above the keeper's reach. Olsen's shot seemed destined for the back netting, but the ball ricocheted back off the crossbar. United did show some signs of life with three or four strong individual efforts, but their attack lacked consistency. And their defense was simply awful. Coach Peter Nowak really has his work cut out for him to try and turn around United with the playoffs starting next weekend. The way United is playing now, they will have a tough time in the first round against the New York Red Bulls. Even Steven Goff, the Post's United beat reporter questions whether United should be favored to beat the lowly Red Bulls.

Speaking of coaches, there is sad news to report: Glenn "Mooch" Myernick, former coach of the Colorado Rapids and the top assistant coach for the U.S. national team during the recent World Cup, died from an apparent attack while jogging. Certainly this is tragic news for his family, but it is a blow to U.S. soccer fans, as well. Myernick was in line to take over the national team, at least on an interim basis. It seems that the USSF head, Sunil Gulati is leaning towards hiring an international star, none of whom would be immedieately available. Top of the list is Jurgen Klinsmann, but Klinsmann dosn't want to return to caoching until 2008. If Gulati is determined to wait him out, Myernick would have been the obvious choice to steer the program in the meantime. By all accounts, Myernick was immensely popular, and surely he will be missed by the whole soccer family.

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