I was too bitter about that pitiful lineup and painful performance against Toluca that I didn’t bother to even make time for my normal preview for this Chicago match, so I emailed Christopher Sullivan to write something up for me while I sulked, and the following is his reply.
Ah, Mike! Your passion and dedication to the game is renowned! I’ve followed your screeds for years and enjoyed your passion! Futbal is such a cruel sport, you will of course have had, and will have many more occasions to look into the abyss, but you must not let an unfortunate result versus one of the best teams in the entire region dampen your desire, your gusto. Your savage phrases belie the love you have for your team, but I can certainly help you through this difficult time.
The Chicago-DC matchup is classic to the league! Two of the best teams in the history of the league! The most decorated! The most beautiful! They will clash like the gladiators of old! United, who always plays with the sublime grace of the Latin at heart. Chicago with the intensity of junk yard dog fighting over a hubcap! The collision, epic it will be.
For DC United, you have a team that breaks the hearts of their fans because they play with precision and mendacity in the central parts of the field, but their conclusions and their concentrations in the final thirds of the field on both sides of the ball are unspectacular, and their final tally of points is unfortunate considering the joy and imagination they bring to the field in trying to play the game the right way.
In the attack, DC has a classic number 9 at that first point in Emilio! A Toni! A Forlan! A Batistuta! He plants himself in the box like an elephant, defying the defense to stop him! All he is missing is the terminating completion in the net, which is indeed unfortunate given his pedigree and salary. But, he will overcome! He lives to score, he cares for nothing else.
Aiding him should be Jaime Moreno on that second point. It is a mystery why Soehn does not play the grand master more! He is transcendent on the ball! His pace exquisite, liquid like a Van Basten cloned, his control magnificent! He understands the game with a chess master’s depth. His understudy Santino Quaranta has the utensils to mimic the master’s performances, but Moreno is a force! He cannot be denied! He glides through defenses like a wraith! He cuts like a razor! He cannot be stopped unless perhaps, he becomes winded.
But, the midfield! DC United has a forza midfield! Gomez, a true trequartista! A fantastista even! Like A Christian Jimenez he puts demands on the defense! He shows them a feint, then slithers away untouched to renew the attack in another direction before the ball is sadly taken away by thuggery. But his heart is unquestioned! Like a Jaguar he pounces! Like a surgeon he strikes the ball. He spent a year in the wilderness, but now he is back where he can flourish in the winning ways of the team in recent years!
Then at the wide points of the field, DC has two young players who have quickly embraced the United tradition! They attack with exhilaration, they defend with hope, but they play the game! They imprint their beliefs like a tattoo on the foreheads of their opponents. They have declined in the heat of the summer, but like the grape, they absorb the sun and become greater as they age.
Alas, Fred could school them as he has the imagination and the ability to frighten a defense. Even the maturity to know how to make the ball do his bidding, but he stays true to himself and like Sisyphus he tries to dribble the masses and shoot below the bar. He has the spark, but incredibly fails to ignite even the car battery. Still, his disheveled actions are anathema to his supreme abilities.
Behind Gomez, it is true it has been a bit muddled for DC United. Ben Olsen is a lion! He bends them to his will when he is able! His ankles betray, but he has shown the erudition, the wily passion to keep himself in the conversation as a starting player! Who among us can question what he brings to the game? Soehn has played Jacobson, a tidy player who shoots with the strength of a weightlifter, but the accuracy of a wrestler. He is young, he will grow. Szetela too, he will learn to practice occasionally with effort.
But Simms! He is like leather, he wears so well. He is the silent killer! Like heart disease he infects an opponents attack. Like a bowel movement he passes the ball. Never into trouble for either team. He’s a purist! He wishes the ball to be played in the center third of the field forever!
Ah, but the defense of DC United has been truly maligned! They are bravura! They bend and maybe break at times, but they persevere! They continue to line up for the opening whistle. Like the sun they rise! Wicks can only rejoice as he takes the field to have such loyal companions! Wicks is young it is true, but like a jolt of adrenaline it is to see him make decisions in the box! And powerful! A beast he is, if perhaps not so graceful.
But United’s defense has such a splendid mix of maturity and impetuosity! Namoff, el gladiatore! He’s fought the wars and emerged unbowed by his occasional decision to leave his mark up to fate. No longer fleet is he, but he leads by his voice! Cover that man who beat me he shouts, and the teams responds! It’s beautiful to see such cooperation.
Then Jakovic is a true libero! Kasper and Soehn have been aching for such a player since the dawn of time. He’s a youthful Baresi! An infantile Beckenbauer! To watch such a player learn and grow is a treasure for all the ages! I should be so lucky to be a DC fan! I envy you my friend even as I understand your pain.
But the piece de resistance is Marc Burch. A forward with those attacking instincts, he defends with unconcern, but he attacks like a cyclone! His incisive deep diagonal distributions unhinged even the great Real Madrid! We saw that! Boa Bamboosta they called it in Zimbabwe when I played there. The snake that strikes from the grass! The great club had to adjust one player in order to be able to negate his imagination and overrun his part of the field, but he struck fear in Madrid, momentarily he did! Magnificent!
So, the Fire have their work cut out for them even though DC has yet to win a game on the road beyond that miracle against Red Bull, for the Fire have struggled at home themselves! They torture their own fans possibly even worse than you yourself have been tortured. At least DC wins at home on the rare occasions they win!
And they will be missing Desean Robinson who was red carded for pulling his shirt off in celebration of his winning goal against Colorado last week. That is unfortunate the referee decided to exclude him from this match for his exuberation as he would have helped keep Chicago’s unfortunate home defense intact considering Soumare is sold and Conde is ailing.
But the Polish have a saying for playing at home, “win where you buy your bread or stay inside your house”. The Fire have just managed to get a suntan just this week, so they may be giddy.
Obviously, DC must concern themselves with Chicago’s stiletto players. The ones who will cut you as soon as look at you. Blanco the hunchback is like a nightmare, he fumbles and sprawls, but he finds a way in the end. Rolfe too, a dagger. Pappa a flash. These players can unbalance even the best of formations for any coach on any continent, but so too do they derange their own teams.
But DC has managed points in Chicago far more than has been imagined. Four of the last five times United have been in Toyota Park, they’ve come away with points, Open Cup and playoffs aside. Emilio stung the Fire for two late goals, and Moreno snatched another tie all with improbable plays at just the right time. Maybe DC owns the mojo of Toyota Park.
So there you have it. It should be a cracker of a match, and go a long way to determining DC’s fate in MLS this season. United deserves to in the playoff hunt based on their grace and skill. Chicago will seek to thwart that based on their inherent evil nature. Simple really, who to root for.
Thanks Chris. Maybe I’ll have the strength for the preview for the Open Cup final.