Thursday, August 10, 2006

DC United 1, Real Madrid 1

OK, a few days ago, following the MLS All-Star's win over Chelsea here in Chicago, I was quick to limit too much excitment about the affair. It was an exhibition. European teams are in their preseason. Several stars were subbed out early. And so on and so forth.

All of that said, I'll tip my hat to our American boys this week. Last night, DC United played Real Madrid to a 1-1 draw in front of 66,830 fans in Seattle. By all accounts, the game was an evenly-played affair, and entertaining, to boot. So in a span of five days, Chelsea and Real Madrid, each megapowers, were both unable to secure wins against MLS players. This, it must be assumed, is not the way they expected their trips to go.

Of course, I'll continue to maintain that if these same teams played under real circumstances, the results would be much different. For instance, try to imagine DC United playing Real Madrid or Chelsea deep in the Champions League in, say, March. That story would have a much different ending. I'm not saying it would be a blowout - it wouldn't as Peter Nowak is a great coach and DC United is the pride of MLS at the moment - but the Europeans would take care of business. (Right?)

But, yeah, it was a good week for us Americans who aren't supposed to be able to play a lick. For a moment at least, I'll refrain from being a realist and simply smile at the thought of soccer followers around the globe reading the scores and thinking, "Hmm...interesting."

Incidentally, I hope MLS' expansion committee was paying attention. That was a lot of Seattle fans turning out in a city that has had a successful team, the Sounders, banging about in some form or other since the 1970's. As I've said before and will say again, put the Sounders in MLS. Come on already. Make it happen.

I'd also like to give a shout out to my brother and nephew, who is only five and, according to my bro, the next coming of Ronaldinho. The two of them were at the game and it was my nephew's first trip to a "real" soccer atmosphere. Not a bad way to be christened, eh? My first "real" soccer atmosphere was seeing the old Chicago Sting play in crumbling Comiskey Park with the dirt of the baseball diamond simply left out there to, you know, make slide tackles more interesting.

Of course, I loved it.

EDIT: My bro e-mailed me some thoughts on the game...

The game was great. The whole evening was great. The weather was perfect. It was cool during the day, and usually with being on the coast, if it's cool during the day, it's cold at night. However, it seemed warmer at the game at 9:00 p.m. than it did at lunch time. The whole crowd and atmosphere seemed relaxed and happy. No one seemed psyched or pumped up with body paint and blow horns. The place erupted when Freddy was introduced for D.C. and the place went wild when Beckham was introduced. The 1st 20 minutes of the game were pretty ugly. We sat way up high in the corner, but had a very good view of the game. We were too far to hear the players, or see their faces, but we had a bird's eye view of the game and the flow of it. The 2nd part of the 1st half was great. After each team scored a goal, there was a good 20-25 minutes that they both played hard and seemed motivated for a win. The 2nd half had almost 2 totally different teams, as there was unlimited subs and it took awhile to get the pace moving again. I'd say there was about 20 minutes of the 2nd half that were awesome. The highlight was definitely the defense of D.C. Madrid had created some great chances, but the D.C. guys were like flying monkeys and used everything but their hands to keep the ball out of the net. The place went nuts after 1 near miss. I would say that the place was going wild longer than after D.C. scored. They kept showing the defense on the Jumbo screen and everyone was screaming to a deafening level.

Don't even get me going on Freddy. I've been saying for a long time he is in over his head. I don't like to talk shit about a 'kid' but I think he believed all his hype and he's only hurting himself by playing at this level at such an important stage of his soccer development. I believe leaders and captains have their own style of commanding a game on the pitch. He had that playing U-18. He was well on his way to being the best player in the World 2 years ago. Now he hasn't had that feeling of control, pace, dictatorship in years. He's young, so I can understand getting his ass kicked, but people were booing him because of his behavior and performance. Every time he got the ball, he'd lose it, fall over it, get pushed off of it, get it taken away, etc. Then, every time, instead of chasing his frickin ass off, he'd throw his hands up and look to the ref while the game was playing. I had my camera on him one play where he had a free run down the sideline with the ball. He did nothing and the defender stepped in took the ball and was heading the other way. Freddy sat on the ground, wrapped his arms around his legs and just pouted. Then people started booing. He gets up and walks to the sideline ref and starts talking and waving his hands. A guy I work with who had seats down on that side said he heard Freddy repeating "What was that? What was that?" Literally over a minute of him carrying on like a baby while the game was being played, on a foul that never happened, it was a 100% clean takeaway. I was livid. I was livid at Nowak for letting him carry on this way. Freddy not only sucked as a player, he was a disgrace in sportsmanship and general carry-on on the pitch. Isn't it his coach's responsibility to reward and punish for the right behavior and carry on? You play 100% all the time regardless of calls. You get angry at the ref and other team and you do something about it in the game. Freddy spent a good 5 minutes of the game whining and pleading his case and he was wrong every time. It's almost as if he thinks he's different than everybody else and he deserves any call whenever he's manhandled. (My father-in-law) put it best, since he knows world news, and knows who Freddy Adu is from all the hype, but he doesn't know about soccer and the details of it. After about an hour he leans over after observing him for most of the game and says "You know, Freddy has really clever feet when no one is around, when there's no one on him, or it doesn't matter. But as soon as someone goes to him, or goes after him he doesn't do anything threatening at all"...which about sums it up.


Blogger Nominal Me said...

I know it's preseason and it doesn't matter, but I am elated at the performance of MLS lately. At least we can ask for some respect now.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Bill-DC said...

Nowak was a hard ass during Fred's first two years and the two frequently clashed. It reaqched its boiling pount last year when Fred griped about his lack of time just before the first playoff game vs Chicago. That little outburst got his suspended for the first game and took the focus off preparing for Chicago.

So far this year the two apparently have mended things. Fred at times has looked good, other times he looks lost. I agree about being a leader for the under 18 or 21 team. That would have prepared him a lot better than a couple friendlies and a tryout camp with Arena and the senior nats.

If he thinks at age 18 he's going to be blown away by big offers from overseas clubs, I think he's in for a shock. At best he can play off the bench for a mid first division team in Spain such as a Sevilla or Betis.

I would have loved to have seen this game live. I stayed up until 2:00 AM with a 5:00 AM wake up call looming. It was well worth it.

6:10 PM  
Blogger Bill-DC said...

One more thing I forgot to add was Raul made the Real Madrid roster at age 17 in 1994-1995. I saw him play in his second season and he was starting and playing like someone who was 27. Real Madrid snagged him when Atletico Madrid dropped its youth program and he progressed through their system.

At their practice ground on Sunday's after a Saturday Liga match at the Bernabeu, you can see three or four games involving all of Real's B and junior teams going on at once. It's really a cool thing to see. MLS does not have this but they are going in the right direction with the Reserve League they started last season.

6:15 PM  
Blogger UnknownColumn said...

Yeah, I don't see many DC games around these parts, but when I have, I also have noticed the same thing about Adu. I haven't been overly impressed with his attitude. A lot of complaining to the ref, a lot of throwing his arms up in the air. He seem, at times, to have forgotten that he's 17 and yet to do much in the league. Personally, I just don't see him ever being nearly as good as he was built up to be.

That said, Nowak seems to have done a nice job keeping their relationship workable compared to last year. I haven't heard of any problems lately.

12:41 AM  

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