The state of D.C. United: A Supporter’s View

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D.C. United is a mess.

Yes, we know, D.C. is coming off a 3-2 home win against Toronto FC, so things should be looking up for the underachiving club. Right? Maybe not.

SBI Correspondent Joel Sanderson sees plenty of problems in the nation’s capital and they haven’t disappeared thanks to one home win.

Here is his take on the current state of D.C. United:

By JOEL SANDERSON

I sit here, writing, a humbled man.

Before the season, I sat out on the front porch of the DC United fan club, sipping my kool-aid, thinking about how Dave Kasper and Tommy “Jim Jones” Soehn had really set the team up for a potentially historic run.

It was Berry Blue kool-aid too. My favorite kind.

And out there, on the porch, I looked across the street and saw the Toronto FC compound. I thought, “Hey, they could have a competitive team this year. But how are they going to score on us? Better yet, who is going to stop us from scoring?”

It was delicious kool-aid. I had some pretzels too. Altogether, a nice day.

I thought, I even stated, before the regular season that DC United could have the best team the league has seen. Powerful, likeable foreign players. Young US kids that are hard to root against. Aging veterans and scoring stars. With all the new guys, my biggest concern was, “am I going to enjoy rooting for these guys?”

The answer has been, sadly, no. And that’s not because the team has been terrible, and it has been. And it’s not because they aren’t likeable players. It’s because they haven’t played like they had to earn it every time they stepped on the field. One player has looked that way every game he has played – Clyde Simms. And that’s just because his hustle is what keeps him on the field. He isn’t the most talented guy out there. It took them 10 games (10!) to actually play hard consistently.

The season has just gone wrong. The kool-aid was spiked I tell you!

It starts, as always, at the top. Tommy Soehn, you’re a nice enough guy. I don’t have anything against you as a person. Last season was great, but this year the team spent almost a third of the year walking onto the field thinking that it was entitled to victory. It’s your job to keep that from happening. Sure, it’ll be better when they gel. Then again, that’s what the offseason was for. I don’t want any more kool-aid.

And the players… It’s not hard to root for a losing team. I’ve done it before many times. It’s fun to watch young players grow. It’s fun to be able to rub it in the face of a powerhouse when you outplay them. But this team doesn’t look like it will every outplay a good team, never outhustle anyone. So much of soccer is getting to the ball first, but these don’t seem to want that. They don’t come back to passes all the time. There is a lack of gelling and comfort, but most pronounced that there appears to be a lack of desire. One game of effort does not solve that problem.

So the porch is lonelier now, with just these pretzels.

And we come to Dave Kasper. If I recall, last year the team had a pretty good year if anyone recalls. Why are we starting four players from that team? Last time I checked, winning is a good thing. You’ve made some great moves, but tossing out your starting line-up for unproven guys is just stupid. If I still had any kool-aid, I would hunt you down and throw it in your face.

I’m rooting for redemption for these players. Fred, Quaranta, Martinez, Gallardo, McTavish, and Kirk all look like keepers. But that doesn’t make a team and somebody should probably look into scoring some goals. I’m optimistic because there’s lots of soccer left to be played. But something has to change – attitude, coaching, players – something, because this is unacceptable. The team finally put together a game, but I don’t know how that happened. Until this becomes trend, not an aberration, I’ll continue to watch and be relieved when something good happens and someone hustles.

I hate feeling this stupid that I thought this team could be great. While I still really like kool-aid, and I assure you I’m getting thirsty, right now, I’d just like to punch someone in the kidney. I think Kasper just ducked his head out the window. I’m going to go hunt him down, I think we need to talk…

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5 Responses to The state of D.C. United: A Supporter’s View

  1. John says:

    It’s actually much simpler to diagnosis how the wheels fell of the wagon:

    1. No finishing. Emilio (and Gomez) were the only finishers from last year’s team. Gomez wasn’t returning and Emilio has been playing terribly. When given opportunities, there has been no finishing from the frontline. Gallardo is actually performing better than Gomez at a similar time this year.

    2. Wing play (initially an issue last year until Fred arrived and Olsen was shifted to outside mid) is again an issue. Fred has not been healthy most of the year (either missing games or playing hurt). Olsen is out, maybe forever. Quaranta is not an outside mid. So outside play has been terrible.

    3. Wells has let in some soft goals and has done a terrible job organizing the defense.

    You put all of that together and that means that team confidence is in the toilet, give up a goal and you see the team fall apart (everyone trying to win it themself or playing too directly). The defensive talent actually isn’t bad though Burch has slumped and shown why 3 other teams took a pass on him.

    But until DCU gets consistent finishing from someone (Emilio? Quaranta? Moreno?), some outside play and more confident/organized performance out of goal, they will still be hurting and are likely to finish last. But if they chance those elements (and they can) they’re capable of winning the MLS cup.

  2. I think that when Fred and Quaranta have been in there the wing play is excellent. I think Quaranta has show himself to be a quality winger. He’s been more effective there than he has been up front because he gets through seams well.

    DC definitely needs some consistency putting the ball in the net. No more of this 4 goals then no goals for two games then three goals. But that can be a team issue.

    Teams like Chivas this year have survived on having a bunch of guys score goals. DC doesn’t need one guy to go on a run, though that would be nice, it needs a nice plays that lead to good opportunities for anyone. Sure, the better players are more likely to score, but DC doesn’t have a stud striker on the roster outside of Emilio and he’s not in form. Goals are going to have to come through smart play like the way Michael Bradley’s goals come. Hustle and teamwork.

  3. inkedAG says:

    DC has a bad season and it’s all “OH NO!!! NOT DC!!! THE WORLD IS GONNA END!!”

    Try supporting a team for 10 years that has been a complete and utter joke with three different owners and a boatload of coaches. Then, you can complain.

  4. inkedAG says:

    It should read “bad start to the season….”

  5. I was not aware that you are only allowed to want your team to play well if it has a track record of playing poorly. I will adjust my views accordingly.

    Seriously though, I know DC’s been good forever, but like anyone else, I want them to win. To other fans, DC fans being frustrated is something viewed as well earned. But I don’t want DC to win any less than anyone else and I don’t get any less excited about a goal than anyone else because I root for DC.

    And I’ve been known to root for the Browns so I assure you that I know what rooting for the bottom of the league feels like. Oh well.