Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Eh what the heck: US Open Cup FINAL liveblog

Yep, I'm shamefully late to the party, but let's do this thing anyways, shall we? I have my choppy, pirated internet feed and lousy laptop speakers. Nothing can go wrong!

DC United: Crayton / Martinez, McTavish, Namoff, Burch / Quaranta, Vide, Simms, Guerrero / Moreno, Emilio

Charleston: Hudock / Akwari, Nylen, Reda, Alonso / Williams, Armstrong, Fuller, Alvanja, Wilson / Patterson

Note: I have barely any idea who any of these people are. This should be good.

I've also already missed two goals. This couldn't be going any better.

20 mins: Alvanja just hits the post for CB after a neat counter. Ball slipped down the left flank, he finds himself all alone from a tight angle, and his cross-goal shot whizzes past Crayton from a narrow angle and hits the far post. DC look a little shaky... the MLS sides can't afford any more embarrassments after the CONCACAF debacles of a couple of nights ago.

24 mins: DC let CB pass the ball around neatly in their third of the pitch, and Alvanja cuts inside looking for a shot, but it's blocked.

26 mins: A lot more possession for Charleston, as least as long as I've been watching. Can someone tell me if DC United is putting out a reasonably full-strength XI for this one? I recognize their strikers, but precious little else.

28 mins: Still, plenty of time on the ball for Charleston. Both sides are scrapping for control of the midfield, and DC's long balls forward down the flanks are pretty easy defending. I didn't realize Emilio's already been subbed out, and DC are looking for width. The midfield is rather crowded.

This Alvanja guy looks good. When will he end up playing for Moenchengladbach?

32 mins: Nervy times for DC as Patterson gets free down the left wing. He gets in behind the defender but there's no-one in the box for him to cross to, and his ball in ends up going to no-one in particular.

The timing on this is good. The game will wrap-up in enough time for me to prepare dinner and drinks before the Sarah Palin speech. You know that's gonna be fun.

Nylan gets a yellow for Charleston for a rather innocuous push-off on a goal kick. Nylan puts in a shove, gets a yellow card. One wonders just how muddy John Terry's disciplinary record would be if his aerial shoving received equally-harsh judgment. First yellow of the game, and Charleston push forward again.

35 mins: Martinez gets robbed in possession on the right side, and the only possible retort from Martinez is to scythe down Patterson as he begins a counter-attack. Another lad in the book as Martinez takes the yellow card for his sins. Nice free-kick for Charleston in a dangerous position; 30-odd yards out, just to the left of goal... Alonso to take...

... and nothing. He whips it in but not very menacing as it never dipped back down. Goal kick to DC.

37 mins: Shit, route 1 (well, Route 1b) almost pays off for DC. Moreno finds himself onside after a neat ball forward, and he gets a nice one-on-one with Hudock. Instead of putting it square, he takes the low shot himself and Hudock makes a neat, sharp save low to his left. No-one snares the rebound, and the Battery breathe easy.

39 mins: Sign from the Barra Brava: Thank you, Joe Public. Seriously. Thank you for exposing the rather wafer-thin line between quality and misery that is the MLS. (sorry, a bit harsh perhaps).

So I'm informed that this is close to a full-strength DC United side? They look quite awful so far, and now they burn another substitute as Fred comes on to replace Joe Vide. The commentator notes that Vide wasn't entirely fit before the match, so it makes their decision to start him look even more brilliant. 40 minutes in, two subs already. They'd better hope this doesn't go to ET else they might need oxygen.

42 mins: Moreno finds Burch wide on the left, but his cross back to the edge of the box finds no black shirts. Charleston break sharply with Alonso, and Quaranta brings him down cynically from behind to slow their roll.

Rather uninspired football from DC thus far. I want to see another Joe Public-esque result from this one. Alvanja and Alonso are doing well to dictate the midfield, and all DC seem to do is foul.

45 mins: Ah nuts, DC come close. Great run by Fred gets clear of the center-halves, but his scuffed shot flies wide of the right post. A flash of inspiration in an otherwise muted performance.

Fred gets free on the left but his cross is awful. He'd do well for Liverpool with drifting, aimless centers like that.

Quaranta gets a free, wide-open header around the penalty spot after a good ball in from Guerrero on the left, but he puts it well wide. The ref's seen enough, and so have I. Aside from the early shock of DC's 5th minute goal, Charleston look rather comfy.

They call it the Dewars Trophy? I could do with one of those right now, although I'd fill it with Bushmills because I have absolutely no class.

The most alarming trend on FSC and Setanta is their commercials. If they're not shilling space and time for Wallbangers, it's male enhancement remedies. Is the demographic really that tragic? Surely not.

Oh wait, hair replacement too, and a mildly racist ad for worldwide phone rates.

Sigh, I hate Max Bretos.

Enough greasy close-ups of this sad pair. Let's see Charleston get it done in the 2nd half already. I do like FSC's snappy graphics when showing 1st half statistics.

Perhaps the Revolution could use a ShamWow right about now... someone should send one to the northeast and hope it helps clean up that mess. Seriously, lame jokes aside... last night was fucking abysmal.

And now zit cream ads! Damn... I do not like this portrait of the average American soccer fan that FSC's advertising placement dept is painting.

And the ball is kicked out of bounces immediately from the kick-off. Brilliant stuff. Simms is going into the book for DC as he poleaxes Alonso in the aerial challenge. A nice snappy start for both sides. Looked rather innocuous to me... 50/50 ball, Alonso leaps for it and Simms comes in shoulder-first but wins the ball. This referee is touchy with his notebook... Alonso gets the magic spray and does the "walk slowly off the pitch with the trainer and then immediately come back on" routine.

Damn you, illegal feed! You keep getting choppy!

50 mins: DC content to knock it around their back four.

GTFO... a nice bit of Route 1 there from DC! Long pass from Simms, who shoots it through. Quaranta dummies it and Fred keeps running, somehow remaining onside (you expect him to get the timing wrong). Hudock cuts the angle down but Fred slots it home near-post. DC United 2, Charleston 1

53 mins: Quaranta takes a free-kick squarely to the groin. Hilarious! DC getting a lot more confidence from the goal, and Fred is just rampaging on the right wing. Will anyone stop him? More importantly, will the right-back on the other side stop playing him onside?

55 mins: Charleston push forward, but Patterson is offside as the cross comes in. Promising from the Battery. I just pray this game doesn't just grind into a sketchy, defensive halt from DC united. Do they practice catenaccio in Maryland?

Sorry, I keep spelling it Alvanja when it's Alavanja. Yep, that's the most exciting thing going on right now, especially while I'm waiting for my illicit feed to buffer.

DC do look a lot better so far. They're testing Charleston's rather inept offside trap and thanks to Fred, you get the impression any Colaship-esque long ball could become goal #3.

Be back in a minute. I'm sure I won't miss much. Insightful comment alert: Fred is fast!

59 mins: Alonso gets a good sharp shot from the top of the box but Crayton smothers it comfortably. Where's this equalizer coming from?

62 mins: This Charleston offside trap is awful! Another DC lad in the book, this time it's goalscorer Fred. I didn't see what he did because my feed froze and had to buffer. I'm assuming it was a lazy tackle trying to slow a Battery counter-attack. Am I right?

Bretos opines that Charleston are playing a 3-3-4. I counter-opine by saying that I think Bretos is an idiot.

64 mins: Burch hoofs a neat through-ball aimed for Williams high into the stands. All this desperate attacking from the Battery is giving DC space up top, and Dichenko (sp?) gets a bit of space at the edge of the box. Of course, he dawdles on the ball too long and the attack is over.

I like this midfield tandem of Alonso and Alavanja. They're showing more skill than the rest of 'em out there.

66 mins: Now it's DC United's turn to look slow and lumbering at the back. Burch muscles Patterson off a quick pass right through the middle and Crayton comes out to collect.

Please, someone put a meaningful attack together.

68 mins: Quaranta gets the ball in tons of space at the top of the box and blasts it high over the bar. He'd do well at Stoke with potshots like that.

70 mins: Crikey. Martinez gets the ball in acres of space inside the box, with a clear shot on goal, but inexplicably, he tries to pass it in and his pass gets lofted away easily. A criminal waste, that.

The entire Charleston bench is warming up. The players on the pitch are cooling down. It's a criminal imbalance of player/performance temperature.

Charleston struggle to get the ball forward as their 3-3-4 formation is not working! Long ball forward amounts to nothing. 18 minutes left, and Battery make their first change: Williams off, Spicer on. This should change things immensely [I have no idea if I'm correct on this].

73 mins: Lots of walking now from both teams. DC are slowly tightening their grip on the match, creating far more chances, but they're not exactly being emphatic in killing the tie. With Alonso and Alavanja, I still fancy an equalizer.

75 mins: Charleston break down the right as Nylan feeds Spicer for his first touch, and he wins a corner. COME ON BATTERY. Their 6th corner to DC's 1. Lots of pushing in the the box and the ref tries to restore order.

Whipped in low and easily cleared. DC break with Moreno one-on-one with the last defender, but he doesn't have the pace to burn past and take the shot. Still, DC threaten.

78 mins: Oh, Charleston my Charleston. To equalize, you need to advance beyond the half-way line! This is bread-and-butter sleepwalking by DC, looking to grind the last 10 minutes into a brainless dirge. They're passing it around neatly but without menace, and I could opt for an Arsenal comparison there, but I shall politely refrain.

Long, aimless ball forward is gathered comfortably by Crayton. This kind of Colaship effort will not an equalizer make.

Substitute time for DC! Wake me! Dyachenko off, Marcelo Gallardo on. Charleston pull off Fuller... I didn't see who replaced him. I don't think it really matters.

81 mins A half-cross, half-shot from the left finds Hudock's hands easily. Oh, Aaron King replaced Fuller. And the final sub for Charleston... David Kenga on, Stephen Armstrong off. Will they slot seamlessly into the 3-3-4? Are they playing 2-2-6 now? I have no clue. DC are stroking it around calmly as the clock ticks down.

84 mins: Lots of ping-pong from both teams. Charleston look in vain to get it forward and control it, but their passing is sloppy. Then, they chase DC around for a few minutes until they inevitably cough up possession back to their underdog opponents.

I just lost my feed again. Curse the heavens! I blame Max Bretos.

86 mins: Ah crap, nice move by the Battery. Alonso's mazy run gives Spicer some room on the right, and his cross finds Alonso on the edge of the 6-yard box but his header flashes over the bar. More of that, please.

Alonso then tumbles Gallardo down in his own half as DC dilly-dally in possession.

Kenga and King have tons of energy to run, but they're not exactly getting good service. DC break with Fred down the right, and he's clearly in no hurry to bring it forward. Alonso nicks possession in midfield but his long ball (yawn) amounts to nothing.

88 mins: Wilson is all too casual moving forward with the ball and Fred steals with ease. Little time left for Charleston, and their continual long ball strategy is rather ineffectual. My feed is buffering again, and it surely looks like DC's taking home the whisky.

90 mins: Alonso is working so hard to get the ball in midfield, but then he gives it away so easily. Sad, this. Charleston had the run of the first half but they're just not clinical enough in the final third. Spicer brings it forward on the right, but Alavanja gives it away in the middle and now they're on their heels again.

3 minutes of stoppage time. They're gonna need some Liverpool-esque luck here. They are retaining possession around the box but can't make the final pass.

DC with another sub: Cordeiro on for Moreno. This final 90 seconds will be choked down now, surely.

90 mins + 2:30: You're kidding me. Offside on that? Where? A jumble of a mess in the middle of the box gives Reda a chance, and the ball ends up in the net... however, the linesman gives it offside. An absolute pants call.

And the ref's done. He's earned his paycheck, and DC United take home a trophy they don't deserve. With their full-strength XI, one has to compare them to Spurs. They obviously had their entire season set on securing the Dewars Trophy. Bully to them, and bully to all of us for sitting through it.

FINAL SCORE: DC United 2 (Emilio 5", Fred 50"), Charleston Battery 1 (Fuller 10")

Fred played well and definitely changed the dynamic of the match. Still, I'm unfulfilled. Perhaps the wonderful, shimmering rhetoric of Sarah "Super Gov" Palin will help me salvage some semblance of entertainment from this evening.

Thanks for reading along. Beer is calling. I suggest you all load up and do the same.


Ian said...

So what does it mean when USL sides can outbid MLS sides for Cuban defectors?

Precious Roy said...

I think it has the same meaning as when an MLS side with a $50M player can't make the playoffs.

Precious Roy said...

Also, love the "Thank You Joe Public" sign.

Ian said...

One of these sides look like the MLS side...and it ain't DC

Precious Roy said...

I know... suddenly as a closet Dynamo fan, I'm far less embarassed for losing to the Battery.

Ian said...

Haha...I love that banner from the Barra Brava

Ian said...

Joe Vide, NYRB reject!

Precious Roy said...

For such a shitty team, RBNY sure has a lot of players playing for a Cup (not for RBNY obviously).

The Likely Lad said...

what channel?

Lingering Bursitis said...

Likely: it's on FSC.

Ian said...


Ian said...

goooooool. On the Colaship long ball.

Ian said...

hahahahahahahaha...Max Bretos explaining to the ladies what it feels like to get kicked in the junk. Female response: try childbirth.

Ian said...

3-3-4 is the teh best


Precious Roy said...

Is someone following Quebec?

Permanent4 said...

Martinez must have thought he was playing for Arsenal.

Precious Roy said...

Anyone not pulling for the battery? Of the 5 of us that is...

Ian said...

route one to King here...lets see if the Battery can get one

Permanent4 said...

Max Bretos just said something about Alonso "gobbling up balls in the midfield."


Ian said... the back of the net but the flag is up!

Ian said...

oh and he was onside...terrible call

Precious Roy said...

He might have been onside. Eh, humiliating enough for DC that it came down to that.

jjf3 said...

LB: thanks for the effort - I am currently without FSC (short-term), so this blog was great...

PR: you in the Houston area? Is the Arms the place for footy in H-town? I live far westside, so I settle for B&B for afternoon or later games. Not sure where else out here opens early...though I do have a new Mexican sports bar near me that might attempt it...(or won't...)

Permanent4 said...

Ian: I did a freeze frame on that offside call. The Battery player was off, but just by a shoulder or so. Very tough call, but I wouldn't say it was incorrect.

So what's next for D.C.U.? Do they pack it in for the season and focus on the Champions League, or do they try to make a run at MLS Cup? Are they healthy enough for either right now?

ΓΌ75 said...

Boo. But, yay. Being conflicted sucks, but feels great.

Precious Roy said...

jjf3: Hey, sorry. Checked out at the final whistle. Yeah, I'm in Houston on a short-term of indeterminate length basis.

I went to the Arms for most of the Euro and watched the Arsenal-Fulham debacle there. Had to go to someplace called like Joe's Pub or something for the opener with the 6:30 kick.

Still haven't found any place I really like, but I haven't missed any game I really needed to see.

jjf3 said...

PR: I always assumed Richmond Arms was "the" place in town to catch EPL games - I'm surprised they're not opening for early games (that's a long trip when I can normally watch from home). Bull & Bear out on the westside only opens early if Celtic is playing an early game, so they're only good for late games on a "regular" basis (though they're good for stuff like US-Cuba or live Dynamo matches, or for almost all of Euro 08 - I was surprised by how good the crowd was for the semis and final...)

To be honest, I'm surprised you even found any place that opens for early Sat B&B (outside of Arms) has been about as footy-friendly as any place in H-town that I know of...(granted, living on the westside limits exposure to some possible surprises...)

If you feel like visiting the westside one weekend for a non-early EPL game, let me know - beer(s) on me...