This was clearly a match between two teams going in different directions. Chivas was starting guys like Maicon Santos, Jesus Padilla, and Yamith Cuesta - all who joined the team in August and have already claimed starting jobs. They haven't been afraid to bench their veterans like Razov, Galindo, and Marsch and have instead sought out better players. Pretty interesting contrast against what United has been doing this year.
It's hard to admit but I think we are actually the worst team in MLS right now. I'm greatful that we don't play NYRB in either of our last two matches, because I think they would embarass us too. Just 3 points in 4 home matches, and those came against a Wizards team that couldn't put the ball on frame. We were looking forward to this 5-match home stretch all year, and we've just pissed it away.
No one even close.
1. Chris Pontius and Santino Quaranta were the hardest working players on the field. Pontius was maybe the only player who was involved in the match for all 90 minutes. Quaranta had a really poor first half, being dispossessed multiple times and failing to get to a couple balls. If he had given the same level of effort in the first 75 minutes as he gave in the last 15, we may have scored.
1. Where to start? Milos Kocic for getting beat to the near post on the first goal (sure it was unlucky that it bounced off his back, but he should have stopped it in the first place). Marc Burch for getting beat on the second goal (also unlucky the way the ball fell right to Padilla, but Burch should have cleared it in the first place). Ben Olsen for letting the team down. Tom Soehn for breathing. I'm going to move on and steal a good idea and hit some talking points instead:
I don't know for sure that a penalty kick would have been the right call when Jaime Moreno was taken down, but I definitely don't understand the call that was made. From my view, it looked like there was obviously SOME contact between Cuesta and Moreno, and even if it wasn't enough to justify a PK, I don't think it made sense to give Moreno a card for falling when he got hit while running at full speed. But if the ruling was that Cuesta got all-ball and Moreno dove, or that Cuesta got the ball first and the contact with Moreno was incidental, then shouldn't it have been a corner kick and not a goal kick?
I was not happy with the "Fire Soehn" chants that could be heard throughout the match, even when we were just down 1-0. I'm fine with chanting for Moreno to come in, and I'm fine with booing at half time and chanting "Fire Soehn" after the game. But if BB/SE are going to brag about being the only fans in MLS that sing for 90 minutes, let's please sing in support of United, not against it.
Speaking of Soehn though, I don't understand the roster decisions either. Fullback makes a good point in criticizing the decision to start the same players who produced mid-week. I thought the whole point in starting Gomez and Khumalo ahead of Emilio and Moreno on Wednesday was for our two leading scorers to be at full strength on Saturday. Apparently not. That was a combined 17 goals sitting on the bench for the first half last night in a must-win match. The adjustments during the match didn't make much sense either. Quaranta and Pontius frequently switching places doesn't do much good when they have pretty similar playing styles. What I wanted to see was the team move Khumalo into his natural forward position, where he scored one of his goals against SJJ. Khumalo is fast and can shoot, but doesn't have the defensive ability or creativity to be a regular starter in the midfield. Even New York figured out eventually what to do with a similar player in Mac Kandji. Our coaches aren't that smart though.
The worst feeling was the sense that United didn't have a chance to win. Just 10 minutes in, it was easy to see that Chivas's defense was better than our midfielders/forwards, and it was far more likely that our piecemeal back line would leak a goal than that we would earn one against the best goalkeeper in the league this season. It was a lost cause from the start. And I don't see it getting any better with our last home match against Columbus.
Olsen and Moreno's comments in the Insider's Rewind post could be signs of what's to come. Olsen saying that the team was better without him could certainly be a hint at a pending retirement. But Moreno saying that the team doesn't have rhythm because they change their lineup every week is even more telling. Soehn has lost the team.
So the only thing left is to ponder who our next head coach will be. Curmudgeon is calling for an immediate switch to Olsen. And I've seen other pleas for Moreno and/or Etcheverry. But as savory as it might be to see a United star from years past guide our team back to the promised land, I don't think that's what makes sense for our club. I could see any one of those guys implementing the same "possession oriented" style that we've been using with mediocrity for the last several years. It's time for a change. I was salivating listening to Sasho Cirovski doing the commentary, and would love to see him promoted to the pro ranks, but it's sad that I don't see him taking a job here. Rejecting both those options, who do we turn to? I wish I knew.