The DEFENSE has been the problem

Discussion in 'D.C. United' started by Allan Quatermain, Nov 3, 2003.

  1. Allan Quatermain

    Oct 23, 2001
    The Lost City of Gol
    DC United
    It's been the big problem all year. Not that our guys are too bad defensively. They're not. Usually they come up big on D. Sometimes they do stupid things. Prideaux, Ivanov, and Nelsen have been particularly glaring in terms of gawdawful plays at various times this season. Petke's been slightly better. Overall, though, they have been pretty good on D (the many, many overtime breakdowns notwithstanding...)

    But overall the problem with the defense is that it is one of the biggest reasons we have had such an anemic offense. Our guys have no conception of what to do to aid the team's offense, and it drags on all our action on the rest of the field.

    Here is where we have missed Milton Reyes. In the past we have always had defenders who could make good moves up the flanks, thus taking great pressure off our midfielders and giving the opposition something new to worry about -- Sonora and Iroha were probably the best, but lots of our other guys could do it well. It was always a big part of our success. Reyes can do it, but of course he's been unavailable this season.

    But Prideaux? Petke? Nelsen? These guys contribute virtually nothing offensively. Prideaux is abysmal with the ball at his feet in the opponent's side of the field. None of these guys can deliver a decent cross to save his life. The only spark of offense Namoff ever showed was a Michael-Owen-like dash against FC Basel last year. Other than that, nada.

    And they're just as bad with the ball in the back. They only seem to complete about half their passes once they get control of the ball (unless you count their completions to the other team -- it seems to be an unusally high success rate there). Their general mediocrity in this area grinds everything to a halt. Did you notice how content Chicago was to let us keep passing it around the back while we were down a goal at home?

    Anyway, that's the way I see it. I am curious what other people's thoughts might be on this topic.
  2. fatbastard

    fatbastard Member+

    Aug 1, 2003
    Lincoln (ish), Va
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    No one on our team seems able to pass the ball worth a [expletive deleted]. It drives me crazy. I watch teams like Chicago and Colorado, and even San Jose, and I see nice crisp passing. When a defender heads it, it goes to someone on the same team. We look like the Freedom out there, boot it and hope one of your guys can get near it. It sucks. A defender not being really strong on his passes I can probably get over, he's a defender - but when your midfielders can't pass either, well, it just sucks. But you're right, I long for the days of Jeff Agoos lofting a beautiful 50-60 yard ball cross-fields to open up a defence, or Tony Sanneh (Pies de Piedra) flying down the side of the field disrupting the other team.
    Convey's first touch is awful. Do we ever work on bringing a ball down, or passing in practice - or do we just play little pick-up games thinking all the problems will fix themselves?
    This week's practices should look like U12 practice - have them passing to each other and shootong from 25 yards out.... simple basic stuff is the stuff we aren't doing.
  3. Sanguine

    Sanguine Member

    Jul 4, 2003
    Reston, VA
    I agree to an extent. I also agree with those who say we've never really replaced Jeff Agoos. I think it's clear to any observer that Prideaux isn't an outside back, but what other option do we have at left back? I guess we could go with Ivanov (who despite his defensive misgivings, does do well with the ball going forward) and Namoff as outside backs when we play 4-4-2, but I don't know if that really solves the problem either.

    A part of the problem is that Tradson had 3-5-2 in mind when building this team, but was stuck with certain parts with big salaries who didn't fit into the scheme, and then Reyes went down and made it even more of a mess - with round pegs in square holes all over the field. We almost had a solid lineup figured out, then Olsen goes down and the team with him.

    Ah well. I'm interested to see who and what we go with next year. (barring a miracle in Chicago this weekend)
  4. JoeW

    JoeW New Member

    Apr 19, 2001
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I don't see the problem being our team's defense. Agreed that our defense has sometime let us down and has made mistakes. OTOH, we've allowed 5 shots on goal in 13 OT matches--that's an amazing low number. That's like allowing 2-3 shots on goal for a 90 minute regulation. We're one of the better teams in GAA. And individually I like our defensive talent.

    Yes, our defense could do a better job on the initial pass. And yes, we'd benefit more from having wing defenders who move forward.

    That said...we started the year in a 3-5-2. You don't ask wing defenders to attack in that formation. We played Chicago this past Saturday in a 3-5-2 (or what I'd call a 3-4-2 with Namoff following DMB around the field denying him the ball).

    Throughout the year, we've been slow to move the ball through midfield (the defenders contribute to this but they're not the primary culprits). And no, I'm not bashing Etcheverry on this point--he's just one contributor to a group of midfielders that doesn't attack people on the dribble, tends to square pass or play cautiously and holds the ball too long.

    And the forwards appear to have no direction and aren't in-sync at all. Even when they make smart plays, the rest of the team doesn't read them correctly. Case in point--second half against Chicago, Quaranta makes a run forward to clear space for an overlapping Prideaux. Prideaux unselfishly lays the ball off to Quaranta--who is now offsides. Maybe Santino made the run to clear space for Prideaux. But if that's the case, you'd have to figure he'd have done it only for a different defender since Brandon doesn't attack with the ball so it's a wasted run to clear space on Santino's space--Brandon is looking to lay the ball off. But the entire team doesn't know what to expect from each other in the attacking third. So we stand around, get in each other's way and just generally look inept.

    Oh--and when we play Stoichkov and Etcheverry (whether we win or lose, whether they contribute or not), we've started 2 guys who aren't great ball winners and can't run all day. That's no a slam on them, just a statement of what happens when your legs get older.

    Put it all together and it means we can't sustain attacks, don't get quick goals, don't counter well, give the ball up too easily and put ALOT of pressure on our defense to be perfect. We had a chance to win the game against Chicago at RFK--if it had been a 1-0 game. This team just can't be realistically expected to score 2 goals in a game--and that isn't the defense's fault.

    Bottom line though is that this talk of offense vs. defense is deceptive. You win as a team, you lose as a team.
  5. dsheon

    dsheon New Member

    Jun 12, 2000
    Whether the defense is good or bad, no team wins games by scoring 0 goals.
  6. Sachin

    Sachin New Member

    Jan 14, 2000
    La Norte
    DC United
    Our real problem is the transition game from defense to offense - and vice versa. No one starts thinking offensively until we've had the ball for a few seconds and the opposition has time to settle into their defense. Except for Q2 and Stewart, everyone else takes their time going from defense to offense.

  7. jason1551

    jason1551 Member+

    Apr 9, 2003
    Columbus, GA
    DC United
    I'll agree with the above and say our other problem is lack of depth on defense. We have 4 starters (Petke, Nelsen, Prideaux, and flavor of the week) and then one other person to play as a sub (which hardly ever happens). I pray to god we develop Stokes next season and get someone to fill in on the left.

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