What did our beloved Claret and Cobalt do the evening of March, 10th? They did what they trained for. They did what they most wanted. They did what they are capable of. They “came to score” (The Aggrolites).
Where did our love go? More acutely, where did our team go? Last night was bad. Bad enough to be the worst loss we've suffered under Jason Kreis. 5-0. More than just not a pretty loss, it was a shocking indictment of our side. We were battling for first place, but in the end, we looked like a side that was battling to make the playoffs.
But that it got that far shouldn't be terribly surprising. We looked bad from minute one. Something just wasn't right, and while I don't know what that something was, I can take some guesses. While I hate to be the sort to just gripe about things, perhaps it is necessary to call out some of the problems we saw last night. And you know? Maybe we have to name names. A few players looked totally unprepared for a table-topping clash.
From the get-go, Jamison Olave looked off. His positioning wasn't great, but his communication was even worse. We know he's not the best communicator we've got — Nat Borchers is an influential player in our defense with good reason — but from a senior player, you'd rightly expect better. He can be the best center back in the league, but last night, he just looked like a strong, fast guy and not much else. His legendary defending was nowhere on display. He stood off players like Chris Wondolowski far too long, and that he got a hat trick wasn't surprising, given what we saw.
Kyle Beckerman lacked the calm demeanor with which we sometimes associate his play. His red card — completely justified to my mind — hurt the team in a big way. Our captain, the man to which our side should be looking, visibly pushed a referee. Now, were the circumstances ridiculous? Perhaps. Sam Cronin purposefully hacked at Javi's ankles with his trailing leg (I don't care if you "get the ball," really) and Kyle, upset to no end, ended up hacking him down. That was the first thing he did wrong. There's standing up for your team, then there's that. I don't know what that was, but I don't like it. Then, getting into a confrontation, our captain was pushed by the referee — and I hate seeing that, as referees should never be forcefully shoving players under almost any circumstance — but then tried to shove the referee out of the way to get at a player. Mistake number two. That's always going to be a red.
We can't complain about players like David Beckham not seeing cards for being belligerent with the referee, then get upset when our captain is even more belligerent with a referee and is sent off for it. Kyle's red was wholly justified and he should have a good long think about it. Last night was not vintage Kyle by any means.
The whole side just looked off tactically. We failed to cope with a high-pressure system once again. For a side that prides itself on possession and quick passing movement, we delayed our passing for too long, lost possession, and gave chances away like candy. Delicious, delicious candy.
Nobody else was particularly good, though. There was some encouraging signs from Kenny Mansally, Chris Wingert did well on the right not to concede many chances down that side, and Will Johnson fought for every single ball, never losing an ounce of energy. Kwame Watson-Siriboe was largely effective, but showed — unsurprisingly — that he has some way to go to fully grasping our system. Of course, playing alongside an incommunicado Olave did him no favors. But he did well, considering, and that was encouraging.
I'm struggling for positives. Maybe it'll be a wakeup call. How many times have we heard that, though? How many wakeup calls do we need? Perhaps it's time to stop smashing that snooze button and get on with it. We're better than this, and we've got to show that.