Tuesday, April 5, 2011

United Struggling 3 Games In

Three games into the MLS season and I'm afraid the early signs for DC United are not encouraging.  Standing at 1 - 2 on the win-loss chart, United stands only above the last-place Houston Dynamo in the Eastern Conference in early season going.

The concern here is the early manifestation of a makeshift defense.  In the match on Sunday against MLS champion Colorado Rapids, three of the four starting back spots were populated by the second team, while at the same time Simms, Davies, Najar and Ngwenya were all absent from the starting lineup.  Only the presence of Quaranta and Pontius gave any gravitas to the team on the pitch, despite the addition of talented young Brettschneider.  Weird.

As Washington Post match diarist Jeff Maurer commented, "Somehow, United have turned over eight spots in the starting lineup in less time than it takes for a gallon of milk to go bad."

The result?  Makeshift defense vs. reigning MLS champions = getting crushed 4 - 1.

The killer wasn't that Colorado scored first, it was the thrilling equalizer in the 69th minute when Korb sent a long cross in, that found Tino all alone at the back post, who dutifully slammed the shot in for the equalizer... and then, moments after the re-start, surrendering a go-ahead goal to Colorado when Onstad was caught out of position.  All of the air came out of United's sails at that moment.  Colorodo scored additional practice goals in the 80th and 92d minutes before the deflated team was mercifully permitted to leave the pitch.

It may be time to reconsider the formation.  The 4-4-2 using wingers to attack does not appear to be generating much firepower.  Try something else, a change is called for.  Stabilize the back line and get our best back out on the pitch, and keep them healthy.  If we can do this, there is plenty of time still to rechart our course.