Post-Game Pontification (Updated)

“A soccer game without goals is like an afternoon without sunshine.”  
— Argentine star Alfredo Di Stefano

Wizards fans suffered through both on Saturday.  I’ll be the first to admit I was expecting a much more entertaining affair.  Having been in the stands for the Western Conference Championship last November, I still had a sour taste from the 2-0 loss at the hands of Houston and I thought the Wizards would be out for a little redemption after being eliminated by the eventual champions.  Couple that with coming off Wednesday’s 3-1 defeat and the insertions of both first round draft picks into the starting lineups, and I would’ve predicted anything but a scoreless draw.  The Wizards best scoring chance is pictured above, a Sealy 1v1 with Dynamo backup Tony Caig in the 36th minute.  Nevertheless, the Wizards have the most points in the league (with an extra game played) while Houston sits with the second fewest.   

My musings from the match:

  • Eddie Robinson: This tops the list, hands down (or should I say elbows up?).  Robinson’s cheap shot luckily only left Tyson Wahl with a gashed lip (though his extended treatment on the sideline allowed for at least one Houston scoring opportunity), but it went unpunished and presumably unnoticed by referee Baldomero Toledo.  He should have been ejected and if there is any justice, he will be suspended by the league’s disciplinary committee.  Even Houston fans are conceding as much.  Robinson has a history of such violent disregard for his opponents, having led the league in cautions the last two seasons and ranking second in fouls committed in 2005 and 2007.  Elbows appear to be a particular specialty, having twice targeted Carlos Ruiz; ejected for one incident in 2006 and cautioned for another last year.  He also received a red last year for a last-man tackle on Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman, and two in 2005 for violent conduct (a fist fight with Carey Talley) and serious foul play (a studs up challenge on the Revs’ Shalrie Joseph).  UPDATED: Dynamo beat reporter Glenn Davis had this to say on the incident: “The bad: Eddie Robinson throwing a forearm at Tyson Wahl which is sure to get him suspended unless that is no one watched the game on HDNET in the MLS office.”  Which elicited this comment from a reader: “Eddie Robinson is the best defender in MLS to me but his forearm/elbow was, unfortunately, a cheap shot. And as a Dynamo fan I love the guy but I actually rewatched the plays leading up to his elbow and it did not look like he was provoked. Usually there is some jostling and pushing/shoving, etc. in the box but he just blasted Wahl. It would not surprise me if he gets 3-6 games only because it really wasn’t in the run of play.”
  • Offsides: KC’s 10 flaggings on Saturday was one short of the team record for a single game, as was the two team’s combined 15 offenses.  In context, the Wizards had more offsides than the Chicago-San Jose, Dallas-New York, and DC-Salt Lake games combined.  As a result, KC has three players in the top 10 for offsides in MLS this season, with Sealy leading the league despite his limited minutes.  
  • Attendance: Needless to say, given the wintry conditions, there were not 9,500+ fans at CAB as the announced attendance suggests.  In the Wizards four-game homestand, fans were welcomed by a little bit of it all — rain, snow, and sun.  The only constant seemed to be the CAB’s trademark strong winds.  The team’s next four games could be as cold as the last four as the Wizards now travel northeast to play in Chicago, Toronto, Columbus, and New York. 
  • Kerry Zavagnin: The veteran midfielder tied the mark for most appearances in a Wizards uniform (224).  Not bad for a player undrafted out of college, then taken in the last round of the next year’s supplemental draft, then played two seasons in New York (traded there for none other than current Wizards technical director Peter Vermes) before ending up in the A-League, and eventually selected in the third round of the 2000 SuperDraft by the Wizards — coincidentally, the same draft the Wizards picked Nick Garcia, the player Kerry is tied with atop the all-time appearances list.  Now in his 9th season with the team, it was ironically only his 6th appearance as a substitute. 
  • Reserves: The Wizards reserves won 5-0 over the University of Memphis on Sunday morning at the team’s training facility.  Goals by Colombano (2), Trujillo, Pore, and McMahen.  The victory improves their record to 2-1-1 in all competitions.

9 Responses

  1. Good write up.

    A couple other notes/questions:

    1. Why was Marinelli pulled so early? He seemed frustrated with the rough play against him. The other night he got frustrated also and got himself a yellow card. Was he mad and Onalfo yanked him? That will sure send a signal to the other teams on how to get him out.

    Without Marinelli, the offense really sputters. Morsink and Zavagnin just don’t cut it for offensive transition.

    2. Why was Sealy kept in so long? He was simply ineffective and missed too many opportunities. Trujillo should have entered for him earlier in my opinion.

    3. Araud is a welcome return. Jewsbury has great moments and outright bad moments (has he taken a shot from outside the 18 that has been remotely on goal yet?). I’ll take Arnaud at that spot.

    4. Espinoza was much better this game than the last half against NE. He was pretty nervous bad that game.

    5. Myers is better than Leathers out there…much better.

    6. Lopez has made several nice passes to Sealy that just plain should have been goals…he’s hustling pretty good, but I’ve only seen him really beat a player one on one once in the first four games. He is mostly trying to cross it every time he get it. That’s going to become pretty obvious to most teams soon. I hope he gets his game legs under him soon. He’s going to have to beat some defenders one on one to open up the rest of his game.

    I realize we are only 4 games in and the team has the makings of a very good team this year- far more than I expected. I’ve enjoyed the games so far, I just wish KC could have gotten out of this home stand with 3 wins…since they’re not playing at CAB again for TWO MONTHS!

  2. I just read over at DTB that Marinelli had a groin strain. Dang, that’s bad. Hope it’s not too serious. Marinelli is pretty key this team’s offense.

  3. The reserves are actually 2-1-1 (win over memphis and drake, loss to SMU, tie with NE).

    And announced attendance is tickets sold, not people in the stands. Think of it this way, in a small stadium like CAB the Wizards still out drew both Columbus and NE this weekend.

  4. Thanks for the correction, the reserves’ record has been updated. As for attendance, I realize it’s tickets sold (or given away). My point is, if it was 1 or 2 games with a large disparity between that number and actual attendance, so be it. But it has been all four games this year, Wednesday night being the most obvious. This trend is, at the very least, noteworthy and moreso, detrimental to the team’s attempt to create a more intimate, advantageous atmospsphere.

  5. The large number of offside calls were due to a really bad officiating crew. I sit on the south side of the stadium, and it appeared to me that the side judge on the south side was not watching where the player was located at the time the ball was kicked. It seemed to me that he was always looking at the player, not the ball being played in. There were at least a few on Lopez that appeared onside if he had checked when the ball was kicked. Granted, Claudio sets himself up to get called often, because he appears to stand a step or two behind his defender a lot of the time. He will get some goals 1v1 this season, just like he did in game 1, if we can get somebody who can serve it up properly to him.

  6. How does Espinoza not get more of a mention? He was a wizard (oops) on the ball and created more chances than anyone else on the field Saturday.

  7. “This trend is, at the very least, noteworthy and moreso, detrimental to the team’s attempt to create a more intimate, advantageous atmospsphere.”

    Really? Cause everything I’ve seen and read has been saying the atmosphere is great. Even Nicol mentioned that in an interview before the Wednesday game. While the numbers have been lower, it certainly hasn’t been detrimental to the atmosphere, the stadium has been rocking each and every home game.

  8. Precisely, the potential is certainly there but when the stadium is at 50-60% capacity the team’s attempt to build the best possible atmosphere simply cannot be achieved.

  9. The Cauldron side is loud, but that’s really been it so far. Need more fans to come on out. Who cares about a little bad weather!

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