Sunday, November 04, 2012


Let's be very clear here: Is Jair Marrufo an incompetent piece of shit? Yes, he sure is. Did it affect the outcome of tonight's match, already clouded by DCU having to give up its series home advantage because of the hurricane? Mmm, prolly not so much. And if it did, it seems to me to be as likely that Marrufo's haplessness helped DCU as that it hurt them.

But I speed to the punch line and ignore the point. United has had some fundamental problems that I've complained about all my life season. The team is agonizingly slow in transition; I think it's because of problems with the formation that Saint Benny imposes on them. Even when they play 4-4-2, they're playing 4-5-1, and really more often 4-4-1-1, or maybe some inept retardate bastard offspring of a 4-2-3-1. It looks to me like Benny has regressed to a notion that the only way to play defense is to park the bus, to get as many men between the ball and the goal as possible. The real problem with this is that it leaves no one free to counterattack, except for the guy up top. Everyone else, and I mean everyone, is involved deep in the defense.

There are teams that can get away with this. They're teams that have a quick, strong guy up top, a guy skilled at sitting right at midfield, so as not to get caught offsides when he breaks on a long clear, a guy with the pace to outrun the last defender, with the strength to hold up the ball as his teammates closer to the top of the defense catch up, if he can't outmaneuver that last guy or two.

That man is not Lionardo Pajoy. With 19 teams in the league, and most of them playing two men up top, at least nominally, I'd count 38 regular first-team strikers in MLS. Pajoy is about the 34th one I'd want in that lone position in a 4-5-1. In fact, he's far worse than the 34th one I'd want there, because there are at least three United players I'd rather see in that space. Pajoy is slow, he's overimpressed with his own South American-ness, he goes down too easily, he fouls too much, he's too easily frustrated by physical defenders, he's not physically strong, and two-thirds of his shots look like a 60-year-old prostate-less man's urine stream.

To compound the problem, the five midfielders who usually comprise DCU's 4-5-1 midfield are:

-Chris Pontius, who is the captain when the elderly, self-absorbed, abusive, and extremely injured Dwayne DeRosario is extremely injured, as he is now. Pontius is the captain because he is very responsible on defense when he's in an outside mid position. He's so responsible that he's buried back deep in the defense. He has the speed and smarts to get forward in transition, but he's most often doing it from way too far back. Pontius is, by the way, one of the three guys I'd rather have up top in a 4-5-1, but that creates problems at other positions that Saint Benny is either too stubborn, too stolid, too conservative, too loyal, or too unimaginative to solve.

-Branko Boskovic, who is beloved, and who is capable, but is slow, slow, slow, slow, slow. That Boskovic is so far back is a little galling, because he's fucking terrible on defense, and he's not particularly interested in rough challenges. That he contributed to an incisive and decisive breakaway against Columbus two weeks ago is the sort of miracle that would routinely be used to prove sainthood (except for that whole part about Columbus sucking donkey balls).

-Perry Kitchen and Marcelo Saragosa, neither of whom has any fucking business going forward, except in a slow buildup (as opposed to the kind of quick transition that you should aim for when you're parking the fucking bus).

-Nick DeLeon, who is a fucking stud, but is such an awesomely good kid, such an awesome motor (reminiscent of the beloved Josh Gros), such a plugger, that he's too stuck in to get forward in a quick transition from deep defense.

And these five guys, too slow, too deeply involved in defending the last citadel, too slow on the uptake to get forward quickly, lag behind at an alarmingly slow tempo while Pajoy turns over the ball, or dribbles it weakly into the goalkeeper's arms, or blasts it 20 feet wide of the frame.

Who are the other two guys? Maicon Santos, who is strong, but stupid, and Hamdi Salihi, The Albanian Shithammer, who is, for reasons we don't understand, way out of favor.

This slow transition shit (which also leads to the fucking eternal backpassing of which you've heard me complain incessantly) has made me completely fucking insane all season, and never more so than tonight.

The transition problems, coupled with a missed penalty (that Pontius should've considered letting Boskovic take, though it was certainly Pontius' right to take it), did United in tonight.

Let's review some notes for my fellow United fans:

-Yes, Najar's foul on the absolutely repugnant Joel Lindpere was a deserved yellow card (push from behind with both hands), and his conduct afterward deserved straight red. This isn't close. I wouldn't argue if Najar got suspended an additional game, or heavily fined. His behavior was that loathsome, irresponsible, and selfish. The kid needs to calm the fuck down a whole lot. It is a rare game when I don't look at Andy Najar, along about the 55th minute, and say, "Damn, that boy's getting a yellow card before this is over." I'm right about 75 percent of the time. Unfuckingacceptable.

-Yes, the illegal backpass from (I think) Holgersson to Robles should've been called; it would've resulted in an indirect kick from inside the box. Who the fuck knows?

-Yes, Marrufo's failure to call a foul, followed by giving us a throw-in after we clearly touched the ball last, was a huge error in our favor.

-Yes, Pontius should've been booked for his egregious dive while carrying against the despicable midget Connor Lade, or in the alternative, should've been booked for bitching derisively at Marrufo in the dive's aftermath. Dood, Marrufo was 10 feet away looking right at it, and even *I* could tell from the stands that it was a fucking dive. Another error, but not a huge one, in our favor.

-No, Holgersson didn't foul Hamid on the NYRB goal, which was definitely, clearly, no shit, no question, well over the fucking line. 

-Yeah, Heath Pearce probably fouled Pajoy on the play where Robles got hurt, and it probably should've been a penalty. C'est la guerre.

-Seriously, this was a filthy game, and while the Red Bulls are filthy (I'm looking at you, Ginger Midget, and you, Sebastian Fucking LeToux, and you, Rafa Marquez, and you, Connor Lade, you despicable midget half the size of Dax Fucking McCarty)...I'm sorry, kids, so are we. Jakovic? Knife artist. Saragosa? Angry Brazilian. Kitchen? Cardassian warlord. Korb? Well, he's just a run-of-the-mill short guy and jersey-tugger, but he's pretty goddam filthy.

-Stop booing Thierry Henry, you fucking idiots. Yeah, he's an asshole. Yeah, he's a Frog. Yeah, he's the captain of the motherfucking Red Bulls. Yeah, you're fucking shanty Irish and came over in the potato famine in the year Henry's handball goal kept Ireland out of the fucking World Cup. What the fuck ever. He's Thierry Fucking Henry, people. If you don't fear and especially respect him, you're too fucking stupid to be watching this game. I was keeping a close eye on him tonight. He really is a class act out on the pitch. Unlike the other most highly paid European DP in the league, who is a fucking crackerass punk-thug from Manchester.

Good stuff: McDonald had a good game, though I'm not sure I agree that he was MotM (for my money, DeLeon).  Saragosa was good in defense, and was good a couple of times when he went upfield, but he's consistently the last guy on the team to get the memo about lazy passing. With the exception of putting a PK in exactly the place that a numpty like Luis Robles would expect a right-footed guy to place it (and low enough so that a standard diving keeper could get to it), Pontius was feeling it. So was Najar, right up until the moment he imploded. Hamid was outstanding, though his reflexive tendency to try to punch is a bit alarming.

The last is, as always, uncomfortable for me, because he's a fucking saint. Benny Olsen is a terrible fucking man manager, just absolutely fuckawful. The team fielded 10 men for almost 25 minutes. Benny had two subs left. He didn't use them. Kitchen was clearly gassed; Pajoy made it clear in the first half that he was ineffective; after subbing in Neal for Branko a few minutes before the red card, Benny felt compelled to move Neal to left back and switch Korb right, leaving two holders, one gassed, in his 4-4-1 (I don't object to the part about moving Neal back; I do object to failing to sub for either Kitchen or Saragosa, though I suspect that by that point, Ben was in an immovably defensive mindset and was likely concerned about breaking the defensive chemistry). It's real clear that using the subs would've been beneficial, could've been so in varying permutations (Russell for Kitchen, leaving Neal, who can attack while being responsible defensively, free to go back to the middle; Salihi for Pajoy; Dudar for someone, pushing Kitchen or McDonald or Jakovic out wide; this Agusto kid, WTF is up with him?).

There's some thought to be had about the voices in Benny's head: Bruce Arena (can't be, not really; Bruce wouldn't leave two subs on the bench after being booked down to ten men); Tommy Soehn (backpass!); Piotr Nowak (who the fuck knows, the screaming would be unintelligible even if it weren't in Polish). What the fuck are these guys telling Saint Benny Olsen inside his unusually large head? It beats the fucking fuck out of me. But I'm despairing of a result on Wednesday, with no Najar, with New York playing in front of its own (saints preserve us) storm-ravaged fans, with NBC hyping the tragedy of New York, and with, I dunno, Alex Fucking Prus as the fucking whistleman? Not feeling it, but as always, Vamos United.

Addendum: Holy shit, I just read my post about the last home game. Backpassing? Check. Failure in transition? Check. Benny's man management sucks? Check. Pajoy worst human being ever? Check. Talk about stolid and unimaginative. Sorry.


Sasha said...

I humbly acknowledge my ignorance of ... well Pball ... but I really need to know how a playoff game in anything can end in a tie.

Steve said...

Well done, Sir.