Coming into this season, it should have been obvious to everyone not named Mr. Magoo the lineup was weak and the coach was a mediocrity. Still, strange things can happen over the course of a long MLS campaign, and, even after the last couple of games, especially given the hopefully temporary list of injured players, I was willing to give United 2010 a chance.
There was one play about two thirds of the way through the first half that caused the penny to drop in my mind. Chicago had a breakaway and knifed through the midfield with authority. One of our defenders came out to challenge, nearly got turned, but managed to get a toe on the ball and poke it away to safety. The rest of our team--the forwards, the midfielders, and the other defenders--were all standing around, spectating like the rest of us, waiting to see how the play would work out. No one, not one other United player, was moving. None of the other defenders was moving backward or laterally to provide support. Had the Chicago player gotten through, and it was a near thing, he would have been one-on-one with Perkins.
After about 30 minutes into the match the end seemed to be inevitable. The only question left to be answered was the precise form United's downfall would take. With Chicago creating scoring chances and United looking hapless, it only seemed a matter of time before our dismal defense let in a goal.
Ominous foreshadowings of the bitter end came early on, with a relentless wind blowing through the seating bowl and miscellaneous questionable events taking place on the field. Perkins misplayed a chipped ball and nearly let in a howler. Then, a short while later, fresh face Najar was defending deep in his end and sent a beautiful cross right across the mouth of United's net.
How realistically can you evaluate individual performances with such a misfiring piss-poor excuse of a team? Perhaps this is why Goff isn't doing player ratings this year.
Sure, Santino Quaranta, and even Morsink (!), had some good moments, and maybe the defense was slightly better in the aggregate than it has shown thus far. Andy Najar has energy and speed, as befits a 17 year old. He also doesn't know what he is doing a lot of the time, as one would expect from someone still in high school. He represents a small hope for the future, if his development isn't permanently destroyed by playing on this abomination of a side (see, e.g., Wallace, Rodney).
But still. RFK has been the site of many gripping, emotionally charged matches against the Fire. Not this time. This year's Chicago team is misfiring and rebuilding, and United is just plain exerable. Even if you replaced the coach with someone excellent, would it really make a difference given the tools he would have to work with? Onalfo is a poor man's Tom Soehn, but even Jose Mourino would be stumped (no, actually, he would probably burn the entire stadium down in a rage).
Jaime Moreno has become the place where promising attacks go to die. He just dribbles, dribbles, head down until he loses the ball or goes to ground. And yet, he may still be the best player on the team! Is that why he is still being asked to play 90 minutes?
And Perkins? Perhaps he spends his game minutes daydreaming about the fjords of Norway (or whatever it is they have there--Herring? Volcanic ash?). Not since Bambi Wells have the denizens of RFK witnessed such a comprehensively lobotomized goalkeeping performance. There was the juggling act at the start of the match, the near fiasco at the end of the first half where he came out of his box and botched a clearance with his feet, and then the godawful hapless flailing at the second goal.
Shocking though the thought may be, this team would have been better off if it had not traded Fred for Perkins. It's that bad.
There are no easy solutions here. Getting Clyde Simms back would help. It would also help if another defender would magically appear so that Rodney Wallace could be put into the midfield where his defensive shortcomings will hurt the team less and his offensive abilities can make more of a positive difference.
There is no hope, just pain.
Talon Rating: No Birds
Shatz is still managing to sound slightly optimistic! ("the defense did play well for 79 minutes")
Goff sheds his journalistic objectivity! ("let's face it, this is a bad team.")
BDR is full of sadness instead of rage! ("put Fred on the field, he'd be United's best player")
Fullback is appropriately bleak! ("We don't seem to have any direction")