A loss is pretty much what we expected on the road in Honduras, but it's disappointing all the same because it could have been so much more. And we're once again reminded of 2008. If you're unfortunate enough to recall the 2008 Champions' Cup and Superliga, you'll remember that DC United looked to be of fairly equal caliber to most of their opponents, but ultimately flunked out of the tournaments due to several individual mistakes and unlucky breaks.
Well the same thing happened tonight, only this time there was one lone target of blame: Greg Janicki. Which is really too bad because he showed a lot of potential towards the end of last year. And once again we're left wondering, as we do in all international tournaments, what could have been if our league allowed larger rosters and a bigger salary cap. Sure would have been nice if we had another reserve forward on our roster to bring in for Emilio late in the match. Marathon on the other hand substituted in multiple additional forwards, and we could only counter by bringing on extra defensive midfields. Not exactly the best tactics for a win.
1. Luciano Emilio looked like a freakin' warrior! Scoring and bloodying his face all in the same motion. Even at the 93 minute mark, Emilio was still going at goal. This performance just might earn Luci a Grosy nomination.
2. Maybe it took him a little while to settle in, but Andrew Jacobson has looked much better the past couple weeks. Surprisingly, he took on more of an attacking midfield role than Moreno for a lot of this match.
1. I had my doubts, but the starting lineup used by Tom Soehn turned out to be pretty darn effective. Other than one massive mistake by Janicki, we escaped the first half scoreless, and held our own until the final 10 minutes. The four-man back line worked exactly how it should in limiting chances, and our midfield won most of its battles. I do question the tactics towards the end though. Mainly, I didn't understand taking out Habarugira in favor of Simms. This move forced Simms to play in the backline, where he has not played in over two years. If we needed to insert another defender, why not Burch? Or why not move McTavish back instead, who at least played defense in 2008.
2. In our first glance at David Habarugira (Spanglish translation: "Habarooga") and Julius James, we saw some things to be happy about, and some things that made us nervous. The Habarugira dude has got speed, and likes getting forward. And when he does get forward, he doesn't leave huge gaps behind him like Avery John does. But he also committed a lot of fouls, including a yellow card that could have been a red with some other referees that we've faced. James was decent, and definitely had his highs and lows. He almost gave up an own goal in the first 10 minutes, but also started the sequence with a header that led to Emilio's goal.
3. The organization of Jaime Moreno and Ben Olsen was precisely what was missing from this team on Saturday.
1. It's not often that a single player is responsible for all three goals allowed, but that was the case tonight with Greg Janicki. He made a terrible mistake in misplaying the first goal, and his poor slide tackle in the box set up the penalty kick for the third goal. Marathon's second goal was a bit more deserved, but it was still against the run of play, and I still feel like Jakovic would have stopped it if he were playing instead.
2. Did you happen to notice that every good chance Marathon had in the first half came from their right flank? That would be the territory of Ely Allen and Avery John. Allen had a couple decent touches early, but was ultimately beaten too often, and John had just too many giveaways, although he did alright defensively for most of the match.
So hopefully the team can keep their heads held high going into Saturday's home match against the Galaxy. Hopefully we won't be starstruck and make the same stupid mistakes against Beckham and Donovan. And let's keep in mind that this could have easily been a 1-1 result if not for those mistakes. This team still has a lot left to fight for in the CCL. I'm very interested to see how we do against Marathon in the home leg on 9/24.