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Chris Snear

I am one of the few journalists covering soccer, or any sport for that matter, that actually played the game at a high level. And though I no longer play, I love the sport and I love to write. My goal is to make you go 'hmmmm..interesting' or be so furious with me that you write back to disagree...but if you do, be careful because I will write back!!! I started covering DC United and the National Teams in 1997-98, took a hiatus for a few years and then back into it in 2002 and have been sharing my thoughts ever since. RSS

United Handle Montreal 3-1 on a Night of Firsts

Written by on August 3, 2013 | No Comments »
Posted in Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, DC United, General, Houston Dynamo, MLS, Montreal Impact, New England Revolution, New York RB, Philadelphia Union, Sporting Kansas City, Toronto FC

It was going to happen sooner or later. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut…a whole rash of clichés would work but in the end this was going to happen sooner or later.

United scored more than two goals in a match for the first time this season, handling Montreal 3-1 in fairly easy fashion for only their third win of the season. They scored multiple goals in only one other match, a 3-2 home loss to Philadelphia in April.

There were an abundance of firsts for the home side actually, as Connor Doyle, signed on loan from Derby County (England) on July 18 via the MLS lottery system, scored his first ever professional goal to give United the lead in the 68th minute, after coming on for Dwayne De Rosario four minutes earlier. He added his first ever assist on Jared Jeffrey’s capper in stoppage time, which was also his ever goal.

The two were only United’s 5th and 6th second half goal of season and their first go ahead goal in the second stanza since their first win of the season, 1-0, against Real Salt Lake way back in March.

There’s more…

Collin Martin, (18, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School), who bypassed his sophomore year at Wake Forest makes his league debut and became yet another Homegrown player to see action for United this season. Four of United’s seven available substitutes were Homegrown players-Martin, Bill Hamid, Ethan White, Conor Shanosky.

All of the firsts aside, Luis Silva has now played in three matches for United and scored in all of them, which shockingly makes him the team’s leading scorer. No United player has tallied in three consecutive matches since Chris Pontius scored in all three matches in June 2012.

Silva had a go in traffic inside the box, beating Troy Perkins off the far post in the 19th minute, capping a portion of the match United clearly dominated.

“There were some holes and some miscommunication, especially in the second part of the first half, they broke us down a couple of times but we started very bright the first twenty minutes, we were aggressive,” said United Coach Ben Olsen. “The way our outside backs went about the game to me was probably the difference in the way we played.”

United’s spacing and rhythm was good for most of the night with Silva and De Rosario pressing very high and exchanging nicely up top. But quite a bit of the attack was generated from the flanks, primarily from Chris Korb’s and James Riley’s numerous runs down the right flank and delivering quality balls, something that has not often been the case this season.

“We had the ball more. You have to have possession to really allow your outside backs go,” said Olsen. “I think we match up well against Montreal because they didn’t press us very high and we had a little bit more time to get that possession and get a rhythm out of the back. Our outside midfielders did a great job of tucking in and making them make tough decisions.”

Doyle’s goal was the result of a decisive run joining a good, simple, fundamental cross from Riley to the near post that was exquisitely timed. Doyle met the cross in stride inside the 6-yard box and poked through the legs of Perkins for the go ahead goal.

We talked about in film that the first guy needs to make a hard run past the near post just to open up the space behind and it just so happened that James (Riley) put the ball in the right spot and it was a perfect ball.

But it was the play of DeRosario and Silva that stretched the defense. This was really the first extended period of time the two have played together and bother were taken off around the same time, 69 and 64 respectively, which was Olsen’s plan from the onset.

“It was one of those nights where everything you wanted to get out of the game happened. Getting those guys out at the right time and I thought the subs did a great job,” said Olsen.

“I thought the first twenty minutes it was very good,” said Olsen about the Silva/De Rosario tandem. “They are very like minded players. So the trick there is their spacing and making sure we can stretch their center backs at times and not have 4, 5, 6 guys all in the midfield and no one making their center backs work. That allows them to push their line because there is no real threat high. When we did that, I thought they were good. You need 4, 5, 6 games together to really get that understanding.”

 United travel to Chicago for a U.S. Open Cup semifinal match on Wednesday against the Fire.

“We were looking to get two things out of tonight, the first was getting a winning mentality and this will help with that but we were also looking to get rhythm,” continued Olsen. “DeRo and Luis haven’t played together; Perry (Kitchen) is back in so you are trying to get these guys to log as many minutes together as possible. It’s strange to say over half way through the season that we are still trying to find our rhythm and the way we want to play but that’s the case.”

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United on the Short End of Two Calls and Squandered Chances, Fall 1-0 to Whitecaps

Written by on June 29, 2013 | No Comments »
Posted in Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, DC United, General, MLS, Montreal Impact, New England Revolution, New York RB, Philadelphia Union, Sporting Kansas City, Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps

Whether you think the penalty call that went Vancouver’s way in the 47th minute was a good call or not, or the non-penalty call on the hand ball in the game’s waning moments, the decisions were made and Vancouver capitalized on both. The penalty kick was their first shot on target, and other than two good chances in the 64th minute, they did very little else offensively. But to their credit, they held on to beat DCU United 1-0. Those are the simple facts.  However…

United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was called for taking down Matt Watson in the penalty area in the 47th minute on a questionable call at best. As Hamid slid out, he clearly made contact with the ball before what appeared to be marginal contact with Watson, who toppled to the turf. At that point, a trailing Matthew Foerster pointed to the spot for the penalty, which Camilo Da Silva Sanvezzo hammered straight down the middle for the game’s only tally.   

I definitively don’t think it was a penalty in any way shape or form (and in full disclosure I was a goalkeeper) but my opinion doesn’t matter nor anyone else’s matters in the moment. Now, United can blame the officiating for another loss all they want but what that call keenly emphasizes in many ways was the importance of all their missed opportunities in the first half.

United (2-11-3, 9 points) have scored 8 goals and have been shut out 10 times this season. They need volume chances to score goals and while only a few were of high quality, they got those tonight. In the end however, they are just not good enough to squander those few real high quality chances they had in the first half and expect beat anybody.

“We got to be a lot cleaner in the final third and we can put that game away,” said United midfielder Chris Pontius. “In the first half I thought we controlled the game and it was frustrating coming in here 0-0 when you push for a goal like that. Just our final ball was off today.”

United had close to a 3:2 advantage in possession the entire game and moved the ball quite effectively on both sides and repeatedly got into good and dangerous spots on the field, especially in that first half.

“We had plenty of opportunities and these are things that some nights they are clicking and you are gonna put every chance away and other nights it seems like nothing is falling or bouncing your way and definitely tonight was one of those nights but that’s on us,” he continued.

However, their final ball was repeatedly off target, ill-timed, or in the case of their best chance of the match in the 16th minute, horribly suspect in the actual pass selection and just not professional enough.

Ethan White saw enough of space to send a ball through to Chris Korb from fairly deep in United’s end and timing and weight were sensational. Meanwhile, Dwayne De Rosario made an equally perfect angled run toward the near post, 4-yards clear of any Whitecap defender. As he arrived at the top of the 6-yard line, Korb’s uncontested pass from inside the box was inexplicably 5-yards behind De Rosario but into the path of a covered Pontius near the penalty spot and the brilliant chance was shockingly wasted.

A simple 10-yard square ball was all that was required and that is a play that a professional player has got to make, especially on a team that has trouble scoring goals. Barring a bad bounce off the turf as it got to De Rosario or the keeper being fortunate enough to guess where the shot is going, conservatively, that play should result in a goal 90% of the time. Korb chose not to talk to the media after the match.

After a vigorous 60-second rant about Foerster’s performance, aimed primarily at the penalty call, “Yeah we didn’t score,” said United coach Ben Olsen. “In the final third, we have to be cleaner. But overall I thought there was some good stuff; the way we played, the way we attacked, the way we moved the ball. We fell asleep a little bit on a play but Bill bails us out.”

In that 64th minute, Hamid made two acrobatic saves, first on Jordan Harvey’s right footed blast from the top left side of the penalty area. After Vancouver collected the rebound, Harvey laid a square ball from nearly that same spot across the top of the box to Russel Teibert, whose left footed bender was also denied by a diving Hamid.

The rant continued for another 57 seconds, switching gears to the non-hand ball call against Vancouver in the box during the dramatic final moments of the match.

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After Finally Taking a Lead…Not for Long, Free Kicks Doom United Again, Fall 2-1 to Toronto

Written by on June 15, 2013 | No Comments »
Posted in Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, DC United, General, MLS, Montreal Impact, New England Revolution, New York RB, Philadelphia Union, Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps

Dwayne DeRosario’s penalty kick in the 19th minute gave DC United their first lead in a match in over three months. It lasted all of 11-minutes. United proceeded to give up two more free kick goals in the first half to fall 2-1 to a team that started the night just a mere point ahead of them for the worst record in the league.

United have held a lead for all of 41-minutes this entire season…41 whole minutes. United scored in the 60th minute of their lone win against Real Salt Lake on March 9 here at RFK Stadium. Ironically, Toronto’s last win of the season was also on that same date against Kansas City.

Robert Earnshaw nodded home his team leading 6th goal of the season to draw Toronto level at the half hour mark on their only shot on goal for the match. Eleven minutes later, United’s typical misfortune coincided with their inability to defend free kicks. Luis Silva’s free kick from the left flank clipped off the head of Daniel Woolard and inside the far post passed a helpless Bill Hamid to give Toronto the lead for good.

“Seriously?” said a disgusted Ben Olsen after the first question he was asked were his thoughts on his team giving up free kicks goals. He paused and continued, “Yeah I got some thoughts for ‘em but I am not gonna talk about ‘em right now.”

Were there any positives? “Not many,” he replied.

The first question was certainly fair and own goal or not, the chronic issue is that most of these free kick goals are the result of plays that should typically, be easily defended.

Earnshaw (5’8”) somehow got up and over Brandon McDonald (6’1”) off of a fairly innocuous free kick that was floated in high from deep in the midfield near the center line. McDonald says he was fouled but Hamid’s self-admitted poor judgment shares some of the blame for this specific free kick.

“I went back and I was a ladder,” said McDonald. “I thought I was fouled and a lot of other people thought I was fouled but the referee didn’t see it that way and I guess that is all that matters.”

If this and other loose plays in the back weren’t happening with the frequency they are, it would not be of a concern.

Earnshaw was inexplicably left unmarked a step from the penalty spot and fortunately for United, shanked a shot off a feed from Jonathan Osorio in 13th minute. Not only was he open, so was another Toronto attacker on the back side that could have easily been played for a clean shot on goal.

Hamid has one of the only bright spots for United this season but his decision while steeped in sound, tactical logic, may not have been the best choice for how this season has seemingly gone.

“I should have done better,” said Hamid retrospectively. “The ball was in the air and I made the decision to stay. I saw it was one v. one and I trust Brandon so I stayed. It was Earnshaw It was a little bit of a push. I should have come out and taken both of them out.”

While meaning no disrespect to Earnshaw, merely acknowledging the height mismatch, why trust any of these defenders right now? Newly acquired Alain Rochat being the exception, who was composed and very good on the ball and according to Olsen, was one of the only bright spots in the match.

The second goal was a well delivered ball from Silva, and while unlucky on the whole, United were still outnumbered in their own penalty area on a free kick from distance.

“We have to attack the ball. They were a little bit more aggressive,” said Olsen about the free kick that officially, was United’s third own goal of the season.

However, MLS changed the original ruling and awarded Ike Opara with a 60th minute goal for Kansas City on May 19 that by all rights should have stayed an own goal.

“We didn’t have a good game. We didn’t play good in any facet of the game,” said Olsen. “I thought we looked tired. They had a lot more energy than us. They were very direct and picked up a lot of second balls.”

Olsen noted that the team put a good bit of effort and focus into last Wednesday’s Open Cup game, a 3-1 win over Philadelphia.

“We put a lot into that Open Cup (game). I am not putting a lot of stock into the energy level but it’s still disappointing the way we played. The lack of ball movement and ideas in the final third but we had some quality chances,” said Olsen.


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