Ye olde college workload strikes again. I saw the match but I didn't have time to write up a full recap, and I don't have much time now. Real quick:
What I Liked
- Tackles from the midfield. Gallardo and Simms are a defensive dynamic to be reckoned with. Simms doesn't have much of a first touch, but his tackling acumen never fails to impress me.
- Tackles in the midfield. Martinez is the strong and silent type, all tall, dark and handsome. People want to talk about Los Gonzalos as a pair, but in my mind they have become very distinct. Peralta tends more towards the Terry-esque sweeper role and Martinez towards the Makelele-esque d-mid role. Martinez is not afraid to get up and attack, and he has the touch and timing to do so very well indeed. Let's also talk about Bryan Namoff, that dazzling D.C. wide defender: he and Marc Burch spread the field like no other D.C. players on the pitch with their lethal service into the box; but what makes Namoff so valuable to D.C. is that he has the hustle and (like Simms) the tackling acumen to function as a legitimate wide back. Furthermore, he's consistent. Does the job, does it well. 'Nuff said.
- Three in the back. It was retired for the latter half of the 2007 season, and for good reason: United simply didn't have the defensive facilities to cope with a 3-5-2. This season, they do. I like it. I want more of it.
- Dyachenko. He's survived Addlery, Jamil, Kpene, and most recently Moose as the go-to fringe attacking player. But wait-- is that Dyachenko, our fringe attacking player, getting central and beating his man off the dribble? And wait-- he can finish, too?! Well then! Step right up, lad! There's a place here for you!
- Fred. He's struggling this season to make the most of his creative talents now that Gallardo is running the show, but when he finds the right spot and makes the right pass, he completely refutes the critics. Someone (Fighting Talker maybe? Kartik at American Soccer Spot?) wanted to make the point that he's lost some of his touch from last season. Look at his assist on Niell's goal last night: still think so?
- Gallardo beating his man on the dribble. Sometimes he does it, sometimes he doesn't, but when he does, it usually results in a panna or other such public humiliation. It just tickles me pink. Love that stuff.
What I Didn't Like
- Quaranta struggling to make an impact. He came out of the gates very fast against Toronto, and that's great, but last night he was forced out of the game by a combination of Pachuca's defense and Emilio's presence. I want him to make a strong and lasting impact for United this season, and to do that he's going to need to pace himself. Challenging Niell for a starting spot is a good start; now let's see him defend it.
- Don f*cking Garber. Read up about his foul mouth in Goff's WaPo recap. He's a tool.
- Pachuca advancing. I can't be 100% positive, but I feel damn sure when I say that they didn't want to advance as badly as we. Just like Chicago last season, this loss will go down as one of the most painful for D.C. in 2008.
- Gallardo's corners and free kicks. At this point I can't imagine that Gallardo's corners are better than Burch's or his free kicks better than anyone else with two feet. Get them on target, son.
Things I'm Not Sure About
- Niell. He still needs to prove to me that he's worth $150thou a year, but last night was a good start. I wonder if he'll make a bigger contribution for United off the bench rather than in the starting XI.
- McTavish. He was doing something last night, but I couldn't tell what. He made neither a positive nor a negative contribution on the pitch, neither offensively nor defensively. I'm not quite sure what to say.