Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Tough Day All Around -- Give Dallas some credit. They showed tremendous tenacity tonight, in rallying from a 3-0 deficit early in the second half. D.C. United looked positioned for a memorable victory. I was prepared to write about how all the team needed was a little home-cooking, and a little Jaime Moreno, to return to form. Dallas ruined all that, as they kept clawing back at United, and eventually tied the game at 3-3.

The crowd booed lustily, blaming the referee for two consecutive bad decisions that gave Dallas possession and led to the tying goal. However, I'm not convinced that the refs didn't miss an offsides call against Jaime Moreno, before he delivered a cheeky, looping cross that found Fred's head at the back post, making the score 2-0 for D.C., at the time. So, maybe that balanced out -- or maybe it didn't. In the end, United failed to prevent the FC Dallas goals, and can't really blame the refereeing for this one.

I think United missed Moreno's presence in the latter stages of the second half -- Moreno had been replaced by Guy-Rowland Kpene. Kpene had one good shot that was saved, but he whiffed on another, and showed that he is no Jaime Moreno. ON the other hand, Jaime Moreno showed he's still got it. Coming off his great showing for Bolivia in the Copa America, Moreno looked fit. He showed pace and creativity. His play created the first two goals for D.C. It was great to see his electric yellow boots flashing about at RFK again. Though I didn't see it, reportedly Moreno came off when he did less than 10 minutes into the second half), because he hurt his hamstring. That could prove to be a devastating loss for D.C., if Moreno is forced to miss much time.

The player who looked like he was gasping for air during much of the game was Christian Gomez. He showed great skill throughout the game, but there were a couple of moments when he might have made a difference, instead of standing and watching the play. Gomez really needs to raise his fitness level. Perhaps that is the biggest difference between Gomez this year, and his league MVP play last season.

The defense had shaky moments, but also delivered with a number of fine sliding tackles to save the day. Troy Perkins mad some great saves, but he looked like an amateur getting beat to the ball once by Carlos Ruiz, who scored on a header, and also by Juan Toja, who headed home the decisive, game-tying goal. Perkins left the line late both times. Hopefully, Perkins can improve his timing or decision-making on those kind of plays.

In short, the game that had started so beautifully finished with a big letdown for the faithful. Not as big a letdown as the U.S.A. U-20 side experienced earlier in the day, losing to Austria 2-1. After all, United still got a point, and they weren't eliminated from anything (although they were knocked out of the U.S. Open Cup earlier in the week).

Still, United should have gotten a better result tonight. The good was the way the offense played when Moreno was in the game. They didn't create that many chances, but the ones they did create were finished off with goals. United needs to find a way to keep Moreno in the game for more than sixty minutes, or they need to find a way to get the scoring touch even when he's not on the field.

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