Saturday, July 12, 2008


When you wish upon a star... "Premier league hotshot" (????) Marcus Bent will be off to Wales after all. (For? One million pounds? Perhaps Cardiff's first offer really was only for free petrol for the team carriage to the away fixture). And so, Charlton are down a striker. Not to worry. There are, apparently, other options. (If you are keeping track at home, those other options are: Svetoslav Todorov; Andy Gray; Luke Varney; Chris Dickson; Izale McLeod; Stuart Fleetwood; and, for the time being, Chris Iwelumo).

Two things today temper the good news of Mr. Bent's imminent departure (he's fit, right?). The first is how Pardew's comments today unfortunately intertwined the fates of Chris Iwelumo and Marcus Bent. Iwelumo is undeserving of being mentioned in the same breath as Mr. Marcus. Whatever one thinks about Iwelumo's skill set (and on this point, a brief digression: how can Iwelumo be blamed for the team reverting to hoofing it whenever he was up top? Isn't the style of play the responsibility of the gaffer? If he can't keep discipline with the Scotsman at the point, then what does he do? Just change the pieces?), at no point did Iwelumo act as if he was too big for this little club. Iwelumo did not openly pine for premiership privilege and certainly did not receive premiership wages. It may be that with seven strikers, Iwelumo is the logical odd man out and, indeed, fixtures may be more interesting next year if Varney, Dickson, Fleetwood and McLeod are afforded significant opportunities to ply their trade. But I do not take solace in his departure and part company with those who think this is a good development for the team. Further, it is also an all to obvious reminder of Pards' obsession with tinkering. The gaffer seems to be intent on plugging men in who are of similar skill levels to those that exit: effectively, the tactic is rolling "bodies" in while others roll out. I fail to see the utility in this particular strategy, nor does it seem particularly fan-friendly (although it does fill content on message boards).

But the principal reason that my mood is sobered is D.C. United's performance tonight against Chivas Guadalajara in the SuperLiga. Check that, the performance of two D.C. United employees tonight: Coach Tom Soehn and Rod Dyachenko. I have now, I believe, reached the point that if Dyachenko starts a game for United, I need to either walk out of RFK or shut off the television. Dyachenko clearly adds value as an attacking sub late in games. He takes risks and occasionally creates chances that challenge the other side's defense. He also appears to be a nice person and is a much better athlete and soccer player than I will ever be. But he is not an MLS starter. He may not even be a USL starter. After a nice first touch to begin the game, Dyachenko was horrid until being asked to give way at the opening of the second half for Doe. His deficiencies were spotlighted on both ends of the pitch and, frankly, I have no idea why Soehn took so long to pull the trigger on his one and only substitution of the game (a game coming four days after a number of his players logged 120 minutes at the Maryland Soccerplex). D.C. United's performance in the second half improved markedly after Dyachenko's departure (at some points it looked like Rod was Chivas' 12th player, while United tried to defend with 10) and Emilio continued to look incredibly dangerous at the point. Zach Wells, although I wonder about his positioning on the free kick leading to the second goal, generally looked better than he has been in a while at the back. A quick exit from group play may be the appropriate outcome in the SuperLiga, but United should pose some difficulties on Tuesday night for an Atlante team that was thoroughly embarrassed tonight by the Dynamo.

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