Woof. Not much to like about this game. A slow and cranky start to the season.
Recap, quick and dirty: McTavish scored just before the end of the first half, Lowell equalized just before the end of regulation. Neither goal was anything to brag about. DC enjoyed large periods of possession, which HVFC did their best to break up with hard tackles and double-teaming.
The most important thing I noticed was the slow pace to the game. It seems United is struggling to shake off its preseason mentality. Players were walking at every opportunity and there were far too many lackadaisical balls over the top. The large influx of new players won't make finding rhythm easy, but it needs to be done. Soehn needs to eliminate fitness problems as soon as possible; team cohesion is a pressing issue.
Second: DC needs to find a way to overcome HVFC's physicality. Pretty touches alone won't do it, and neither will our dependence on flank play (not with McTavish as right wing, anyways). We need to draw their defense out of position and wreck their back line with pinpoint passes through the middle. It's entirely possible: Gallardo is a dead-eye and Niell has the hustle to latch onto balls knocked into space. I want to see Fred and Emilio holding up the ball a bit more, allowing Gallardo to set 'em up and Niell to knock 'em down.
Looking ahead, DCU are the safe bet to take the home-and-away series at RFK. But they've got a bit of work to do before they inspire confidence in me.
- I agree with Dave Lifton. The commentators (Christian Miles and Paul Caligiuri) were awful.
- The rumors are true: we finally have a #10 that contributes defensively as well as organizing the attack. And Gallardo does organize the attack: I saw glimpses of him communicating with Niell and Emilio. I have high hopes for that trio this season.
- Furthermore, I hope Gallardo wasn't too frustrated by the end of the match because he'll be seeing plenty of the same physical-play-to-disrupt-possession-until-we-can-equalize-through-counterattack kind of soccer very frequently for the next six months. Here's hoping he can overcome negative soccer quickly.
- Early on the question was posed, "What does Niell bring to the field that Moreno doesn't?" My immediate answer was pace, but I'll rephrase that with 'hustle.' He's fast and he's scrappy. I can see Niell vying with Simms for amount of effort expended per game this season. He's got more than enough speed and the way his shoulders swing when he sprints tells me that he's spent years fighting off the bigger guys for long balls. We here at DCU like them long balls, apparently. Niell will suit us nicely.
- Now that I think about it, I would be happy to replace Jaime with Niell in the starting lineup for several reasons. Firstly, the creativity Jaime traditionally brings to DCU's game is now El Muneco's responsibility. Secondly, he is deficient in pace at this point in his career, and pace (along with finishing) was a crucial element missing from our attacking corps last season, a crucial element that Niell has oodles of. Thirdly: if memory serves, this past season Jaime has performed better for United as a sub than as a starter, scoring more goals from the run of play. That makes sense. When everyone is tired and Jaime's lack of pace ceases to be a handicap, he can create and exploit holes in defense like no one else can. Jaime is better able to open the game for DCU when he is fresh in the 70th and everyone else is winded.
- Wells is slow and his reach isn't the best but he's got good hands and good positioning. I even heard a bit of communication. I'll reserve judgment until I see Carvallo, but from what I saw tonight, Wells has a good many starts ahead of him this season.
- There were scant few shots from HVFC and the Jamaican squad only equalized through a set piece, which tells me that DC was defending well during the run of play. Excellent. Peralta and Martinez can only get better from here on out as they learn to play with each other.
- I don't like McTavish on the wing. I mean, he fulfills the role decently and he didn't commit any egregious mistakes, but I can't help wondering if Quaranta won't link up better with Gallardo. Speaking of linking up, there were several Gallardo-Niell connections that gave me goosebumps. I prophesy some tasty, tasty net-bulgers from the Argentinean duo.
- Burch didn't lose much over the offseason in terms of defensive capability. By the same token, he still has more to gain. I'm hoping this season that he'll be able to cultivate his defense while making a positive contribution on offense.
- Fullback agrees with Lifton and I about the commentators, and also makes a good point about Soehn's tactics. Anyone else think they're too rigid?
Feels good to post another one of these. I'll have to do it again soon.