Categorized | Match Reports

For DC United, practice means progress as basics improve

Posted on 28 April 2008 by Steve Long

Moreno goes airborn ©ASN/Jim Brault

Judging solely from the score of 4 – 1, one might believe that DC United had returned to its old dominant form against Real Salt Lake at RFK in front of 23,269 fans last night. That was not really the way it went. Since the beginning of its history, United has begun its games with high pressure. That strategy is basic, but also predictable. That predictability was why the fans didn’t see very much high pressure early on.

It was clear from the start of the game that DC was not pressing the RSL defenders or midfield until near the halfway line and then only loosely. United’s characteristic tight doubling yielded to a more subtle shading of passing anes. The effect was to allow RSL to do its own pressing, also loosely, a bit further forward than DC.

As a consequence, the ball spent more time in United’s end of the field. The change was intentional. Clyde Simms explained, “I think us holding a bit more and making them play was the difference. The last time we played them there, we pressed the entire game and they were playing kickball and bypassing our whole midfield.

Celebration time for DCU fans ©ASN/Jim Brault

“With the big guy up top, he’s a handful. We tried to make them come out and play and then counterattack them a little bit and get a goal and get a hold of the game.” The idea was to create space for United’s attack by yielding a bit, but the plan had to be well executed.

Simms agreed that the team had played slightly looser pressure while maintaining good shape, “If you’re gonna pressure, you’ve got to all be in it together otherwise it all breaks down…..We feel that no team in the league can play through us if we’re compact and make the field as small as possible.”

The space created by the change in flow freed up United to vary its attack with more room and led to a threatening run and attempted cross that former United midfielder Dema Kovalenko swatted down to give Jaime Moreno a penalty kick in the 31st minute. The league’s all-time leading scorer, from both the penalty spot (now 35) and overall (now 115), cheekily chipped the shot over the space that his run up had led Nick Rimando to vacate.

Despite continuing to play with his back to the goal, not his best attacking style, Luciano Emilio, did increase his overall effectiveness, earning the second penalty of the night for DC in the 62nd minute by rounding his defender and forcing another former United midfielder, Carey Talley to swipe at him, only to take out his legs in the penalty area.

Moreno strikes PK ©ASN/Jim Brault

Moreno took the PK in a more orthodox manner the second time as his hard shot to the left side netting easily beat the diving Rimando and put United ahead by two. DC’s third goal came from the run of play in minute 67. Tino Quaranta struck a spectacular full volley goal taking Moreno’s cross before it could touch the ground and coolly driving it past Rimando into the side netting.

He seemed quite relieved to have scored so well, but later responded to a reporter’s observation that the final fourth DC United goal of the match, a stunning full volley of a high Marc Burch cross by Marcelo Gallardo in the 80th minute, had taken a goal of the week away from him, Quaranta said, “He can have it, believe me. To see that, it’s a pleasure to watch.”

He seems to have matured to a stage where he knows that a good performance only leads to the need for him to do more. Apprised that Coach Tom Soehn in praising his efforts had noted that he had more to work on, he replied, “I learn something new every day. Tommy did a great job this week in showing us our roles. Of course, I‘ve got stuff to learn in a 3-5-2 and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to learn.”

He emphasized the value of a total team effort, heaping high praise on Simms, the midfield’s dynamo, for his effect on the rest of the team, “Clyde (Simms) is the most underrated player in this league….his work rate and having five in the middle gave Marcelo (Gallardo) more freedom and Jaime (Moreno) played well tonight. When he plays like that everybody else follows.”

Soehn believes that the opportunity to run practices rather than playing a compressed schedule, which allowed no real training sessions to focus on adjustments, had indeed been beneficial but he looks for more improvement as the new players adapt and bad habits picked up under game pressure are corrected on the training field.

Given the difficulties that DC United has had the last two times that it played at altitude under pressure, we might expect that the same looser pressure tactics may be applied in Colorado next Sunday afternoon.


Scoring Summary:

DC — Jaime Moreno 2 (penalty kick) 31
DC — Jaime Moreno 3 (penalty kick) 52
DC — Santino Quaranta 2 (Jaime Moreno 2, Rod Dyachenko 1) 67
RSL — Carey Talley 1 (Tony Beltran 1, Javier Morales 2) 77
DC — Marcelo Gallardo 2 (Marc Burch 1, Jaime Moreno 3) 80

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Chris Wingert, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Ian Joy (Andy Williams 58), Dema Kovalenko, Javier Morales, Carey Talley, Kyle Beckerman (Tony Beltran 73), Kenny Deuchar, Robbie Findley (Yura Movsisyan 59),
Substitutes Not Used: Matias Cordoba, Matias Mantilla, Tino Nunez, Chris Seitz

D.C. United — Zach Wells, Bryan Namoff, Gonzalo Martinez, Gonzalo Peralta, Dan Stratford (Rod Dyachenko 41), Santino Quaranta, Marcelo Gallardo, Clyde Simms, Fred (Marc Burch 22), Luciano Emilio, Jaime Moreno (Quavas Kirk 82),
Substitutes Not Used: Jose Carvallo, Ryan Cordeiro, Franco Niell, Pat Carroll

Misconduct Summary:
RSL — Carey Talley (caution; Reckless Foul) 5
DC — Fred (caution; Reckless Foul) 9
DC — Rod Dyachenko (caution; Reckless Foul) 47
RSL — Dema Kovalenko (caution; Game Disrepute) 86
DC — Marcelo Gallardo (caution; Game Disrepute) 86
RSL — Jamison Olave (caution; Reckless Foul) 89

Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee’s Assistants: Rob Fereday; Craig Lowry
4th official: Jorge Gonzalez
Time of game: 1:53
Attendance: 23,269
Weather: Cloudy -and- 74 degrees

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