Our Offense for the Playoffs Revolves Around Stoichkov [R]

Discussion in 'D.C. United' started by ursula, Oct 26, 2003.

  1. ursula

    ursula Member

    Feb 21, 1999
    Republic of Cascadia
    I just wanted to make the title clear. What we saw for most of the second half was how United will finish the season. (Or at least how they want to finish the season.) So what did we see? We saw the offense being directed in no uncertain terms by Hristo Stoichkov. We saw Namoff and Convey respond to Hristo to produce the goal and the three of them dominated the flow of the game. The more effective our offense will be, the more other players will buy into following Stoichkov's orders.

    The ongoing problem with this team's offense is that there are too few players who are "stars" players who attack the goal on a regular basis. In fact with Olsen out we are reduced to Stoichkov with very occasional independent forays by Etcheverry. All the rest of the players are dependent on someone else to 'start' them. Cerritos, Stewart, Convey, Martins, Quintinilla, Quaranta, Eskandarian, Kovalenko, the defenders, all are looking to work off of that main guy.

    When Olsen got hurt the team was left with no offensive leadership until Stoichkov returned to fitness. And thus what we saw in those five games post-Olsen was a lot of disconected, mostly uninspired play with the main highlights being Etcheverry's PK fouls. No real combination play. No players working off each other to produce a result. No real leader out there.

    But that changed with Stoichkov's second half entrance yesterday. He was directing players, pointing at them, demanding runs. As I said above, it was Convey and Namoff who responded the most:

    Namoff, who was very passive in the first half, causing the team to look like it was playing a 5-0-5 or worse, moved forward to play a deep attacking midfielders role- sort of like what Reyna does with the Nats- due to Stoichkov's cajoling. Namoff became very active, keeping the ball in front of him, playing the very essense of a holding mid, supplying the more forward players a stedy stream of balls. It was Brian who saw Convey break free to the left on the goal.

    Convey in the first half continued to play the solid yet uninspiring play down the left flank that has become his trademark in the last month. (Solid is used here in that KC wasn't running down his side like they were down Q2's.) He wasn't connecting with anyone really. But when Stoichkov entered the game, Convey moved to play a nominal right wing spot. The reality was however that he assumed the a-mid role, stationing himself most of the time in the middle, the better to connect with Stoichkov and Namoff. On the goal Convey released all the way to the left, while Hristo swung right. Goal.

    Other players tried to be a part of this offensive hub. Cerritos in particular tried but he was a victim of either poor air play on his part or the victim of who I thought was a sure PK foul by Guitterez when he was elbowed in the head while jumping. If Cerritos had managed to get on the end of a couple of balls we might have had ourselves a couple of goals and the win.

    Hristo's dominance became especially clear at the end of the game when he started directing Quaranta when he entered the game and also with his gestures at the defense. United was truly his team at that point.

    And if we are to have any success in the playoffs it will be his team them too.
  2. SABuffalo786

    SABuffalo786 New Member

    May 18, 2002
    Buffalo, New York
    Hristo Stoitchkov being the key component to our team going into the playoffs was the last thing I thought would happen, last April.
  3. dcufan1984

    dcufan1984 Member

    Feb 17, 2002
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    and it's the last thing that i want to happen now.

    the man is 37 and is coming off of an injury.

    regardless of his leadership and skill, i don't like our chances through two series and a final if we are relying soley on hristo.

    someone else is going to have to step up if we are going to compete for the title.
  4. rymannryan

    rymannryan New Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    N.N., Virginia

    And somebody better step up because if they can't get fired up to rise to the occassion in a playoff atmosphere for a team that hasn't been in this situation since '99, then maybe they should re-consider their career.
  5. garretth

    garretth New Member

    Jun 1, 2003
    and this is why we don't stand a chance against Chicago.
  6. DigitalTron

    DigitalTron New Member

    Apr 4, 2001
    Arlington, VA
    Hey, it may not be my ideal model (although having Convey at attacking mid and Namoff at Dmid sure is), but we need to win 3 games ... that's it. If we win one game by more than we lose the other in the Chicago series, then win a second game at either New England or New Jersey (now wouldn't that be sweet), we'll have earned the right to play on the neutral (possibly) field at LA. I'd say that we might even have the majority of fans against San Jose, Colorado and KC, especially if Cerritos is starting.

    So in retrospect, I don't have a problem with a Hristo Hot Streak in the short term. Three games, that's all we need.

  7. Th4119

    Th4119 Member

    Jul 26, 2001
    Annandale, VA
    Winning record against them during the season leaves no optimism in you?

    Sure it sucks that we don't have Olsen, Reyes, or Rimando, but I'd say saying we "don't stand a chance" is a bit excessive.
  8. ursula

    ursula Member

    Feb 21, 1999
    Republic of Cascadia
    If I were Hudson and Trask, I'd get the team- especially Cerritos and Martins, Convey and Quaranta- lots of time getting used to Stoichkov diagionals into the box.
  9. todda74

    todda74 New Member

    Nov 4, 2001
    but the problem with this is that he doesn't start. I agree that for 30 minutes he is the teams best offensive player, but he can't last for 90 minutes. So who is the leader when Stoichkov isn't on the field? It should be Etch but it hasn't been for the last two years. Maybe he can step it up and leave it all on the field for his last 5 possible games in MLS.
  10. ursula

    ursula Member

    Feb 21, 1999
    Republic of Cascadia
    Right. Exactly. Hristo's not a 90 minute player. But we don't have any other player who can take over when he's not in the game. Or it would be better to say we don't have a player like that in the system we play now that Olsen's out. So really for the rest of the United is in a holding action- just like we saw in the last game. Occasionally Etch will make a nice play- a good pass or a good dribble into the box. Even more rarely we'll get a bit of inspiration like the Chino to Petke header in the Cows game. But expecting Etch or someone to "step it up" is just not realistic. We've seen these guys over a whole year: Etrch isn't gonna go back in time to 99. Stewart is not gonna change his personality. Convey isn't gonna become The Man on this team, etc. We've gone round and round on these boards about why (incert player name here) isn't producing; now we have to face reality that regardless of what we want the players are gonna keep doing what they have been doing all year.

    But there could be a change in tactics though. What I'd like to see though is a return to what happened at the end of last year- and what we basically saw in the second half of the Wiz game- let Convey be a central mid with Etch playing deeper. Those games last year were the last time that the team- not just individuals, the team- was able to exert pressure over multiple games. So a non-Hristo lineup would look like:


    If Stewart can't go, put in Quintanilla or Namoff or Ivanov. I 'd prefer one of the last two. In this offense the wingbacks have to be very careful of their defensive responsibilities. With that in mind I'd expect to see Q1 mainly in a defensive position. But Stewart knows how to move forward at opportune times, just like Kovalenko. When Stoichkov enters the fray, he'd be for one of the forwards. My guess is that Martins would be able to knock down high balls from Hristo and Marco for Convey or Stewart to run onto if not head them directly on goal. Martins would alos challenge Thornton directly. If Etch tires- sub Namoff in for him.
  11. eltico

    eltico Member

    Jul 16, 2000
    Quaranta looked rusty yesterday, and coming off the injury I doubt he's 90-minute fit. Namoff earned another start. He should replace Quaranta on the outside, and be able to pinch in if Convey floats wide. If late we need a goal, I see no problem with Quaranta coming on for Namoff, but Namoff should be the one starting.
  12. Stevedm

    Stevedm Red Card

    Jan 19, 2000
    I'll tell you what guys. The man knows how to win when he wants to. No one can do it better. He carried us into the final back in 2000, single handedly. Never count out the most storied player to ever grace the fields of MLS in its entire history. Lets just say I would rather be playing Columbus in the round then you guys, only because of him.
  13. The Artist

    The Artist Member+

    Mar 22, 1999
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    If Hristo is in the game, can we possibly have Etch in at the same time? I know it sort of worked out on Saturday, but in the second half KC was more interested in the DAL-COL score than in our game. And KC relies on Preki rather than Beasley so counterattacks are a bit slower to say the least.
    I also think that if Hristo is in, Martins has to be in. Cerritos is very unlikely to score as the only man in the box. Martins probably won't either but I'd rate his chances higher.

    Also, I recall Convey playing the deeper role at the end of last year, not Etch. What frustrates me most about El Diablo is not his passing or his fitness or his defense but the fact that he spends the vast majority of the game only a few yards ahead of Mike Petke. With the exception of one or two nice long balls, every good thing Etch has done for this team this year has occurred inside the opposing team's penalty box. He should always be just a few yards behind the forwards. Let Convey, who if nothing else showed a great deal of fitness against KC, run up and down the field and transition the ball from defense to offense.

    DC is not going to outplay Chicago, but I believe we can shut down most of their scoring threats. We just have to hope that Marsch and Armas miss the one or two good opportunities they're going to get, Beasley isn't "on," and Hristo comes up with one moment of magic each game.
  14. onefineesq

    onefineesq Member+

    Sep 16, 2003
    Laurel, MD
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    please tell me you are joking?!! you would rather play against McBride, Buddle, Cunningham, West than against Cerritos, Etcheverry, Stewart and Convey? Hell, Chicago should be celebrating that we scratched out that last point. Forget the darn records during the regular season. That means diddly right now. Columbus has more attacking talent to put on the field than DC right now, as sorry as i am to say that.
  15. SABuffalo786

    SABuffalo786 New Member

    May 18, 2002
    Buffalo, New York

    Yeah, but it's one hell of a psychological boost knowing you are capable of beating the best team in the league.
  16. doneshufflin

    doneshufflin New Member

    Nov 13, 2000
    Washington DC
    Why such optimism? (insert sarcastic tone)
  17. JAnderson14

    JAnderson14 New Member

    Oct 5, 2000
    Crofton, MD
    Just a small bit of nitpicking in an otherwise, excellent post. Convey was playing with Etcheverry as a second offensive midfielder. Stewart was out on the right.

    The way he's played recently, I think Namoff is a must for the starting lineup. I'd play him over Quaranta on the left side of midfield, or play him alongside Kovalenko over Etcheverry. The result would be a very high-pressure group to play against, with everyone able to rotate into another person's role as well. To me, we'd be stronger like this waiting for Stoitchkov than using Quaranta in a role that, in the playoffs, I don't know if I'd be comfortable with.

    Speaking of him, I wonder how effective he could be up front right now. Remember, when we changed forwards early in the season and started Curtis, teams struggled with our attack for 7 or 8 games. They figured him out though, so we struggled again. We trade for Cerritos, and the same thing happens. We're struggling again now, though, because teams have figured us out when Cerritos is leading the line. This is just thinking out loud, but it's time to do something different up front.

    We've already outplayed them this season, though. I have plenty of respect for Chicago (I think they're the best team in MLS), but it seems everyone here is now completely petrified by them. Folks, this is a team we've beaten twice this year, and hasn't scored a single goal at RFK in the last 231 minutes against us.
  18. Knave

    Knave Member+

    May 25, 1999
    If we go down a goal in the first game I'd insert Thiago up there for the no longer effective Cerritos and just have him and Stoichkov do ... "something". Actually, truth be told, I wouldn't have a problem with us starting Thiago in the playoffs. I know he hasn't scored any goals and maybe he wouldn't in the playoffs either but he really is more disruptive because he seems more dangerous than our other forwards - even if he really isn't. But perhaps that would open things up for the midfielders. Dema will be back. Maybe with Thiago running around getting his shirt torn off Dema will have the space to shoot.

    I guess that's what it comes down to for me. The strikers are a bust. It's just a question of who is the most disruptive. Who can open up space for the midfielders?
  19. Hal

    Hal Member+

    Sep 9, 1999
    I agree that DC's attack in the second half revolved around Stoichkov.

    Before he came in we only had two North-South players, Namoff and Convey. The rest of the team was East-West, or give-away long ball, or back pass. Only Bobby and Brian drove forward with the ball at their feet forcing the defense to adjust to them and opening up other options.

    When Hristo came in, especially with his driven long crosses, we had 3 North - South players and that's what finally clicked.
  20. IntheNet

    IntheNet New Member

    Nov 5, 2002
    Northern Virginia
    Blackburn Rovers FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Any kind of performance in Playoffs by D.C. United will depend upon stepped up performance by either Cerritos or Convey, who have played rather lackluster thus far. Etcheverry has been a playmaker but not finished any plays recently or scored. He too needs to step up! Stewart, for my money, has done absolutely nothing this year...big hopes for him have been dashed. As far as Hristo... I see him as more of a liability to D.C. United than anything else... yes he makes an occasional goal, and yes he plays left side and occasionally crosses ball for score... but jeepers he fights with everyone on field, his ego is twelve sizes too large, and more than likely, his fighting with refs will cost DCU a penalty shot eventually. Coach Hudson would do well to have Hristo park cars in lot during game... he is nothing but trouble and should be dismissed!

    One other thing... every time Petke goes forward with ball, up from his defensive position, he seems to do very well... it would not be wild to move Petke forward as DCU needs a big guy as a forward just to "push a goal"!

  21. Stevedm

    Stevedm Red Card

    Jan 19, 2000
    Wait until you see hristo in the playoffs. The man just plays a different game. The man has had 11 championships in his career. He knwos how to win and wants to win.

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