If there was, it wasn’t at RFK Stadium. What transpired at that crumbling wreck was something else entirely; what it actually was defies description. At least, not without using some atrociously foul language.
Yeah, I’m not happy. This was not what we waited 17 days for. No redemption. No revenge. Instead, utter humiliation. Total embarrassment.
How did this happen? Well, there are a few possibilities, I think. I tweeted this the morning of the game:
It's been so long Bobby Boswell is the youngest player on the squad.— John Fuller (@JohnKFuller) August 23, 2017
Not that I am touting my prophetic abilities (more on that later). At the very least, the team was rusty and disconnected. They even looked unfit in some cases. Maybe they were affected by odor of raccoon droppings in the locker room. Or terrified of concrete falling on them. Or discovered that half the team can’t swim. Perhaps the overall aura of gloom and despondency got to them.
Whatever the reason, it was a miserable performance that played completely into D.C.’s plans. Which is to say, not to play soccer. As Parker Cleveland has pointed out so graphically, Atlanta’s dominance of the proceedings amounted to a big fat zilch. Of the 15 shots taken by Atlanta, a massive 2 were on target. And both of those were wing-and-a-prayer efforts from extreme long range.
Simply put, this was the worst outing of the season by a considerable margin. This week’s Dirty South Soccer Staff Player Ratings will reflect that:
Man of the Match honors for this game are pretty easy. Brad Guzan gets it for a commendable performance between the pipes. There is no Special Mention this time, however, because no field player deserves that much credit.
GK: Brad Guzan – 7. D.C. actually had 6 shots on target. I’m pretty sure that’s 6 better than their average, and it was 4 better than Atlanta’s showing. However, Brad stopped every one of them, and forced several other attacks wide as well. A couple of those saves were heroic, especially the one right before the own goal early in the second half. His Audi Index score was 728, by far the highest of any player in the game on either side.
RB: Anton Walkes – 2.5. OK, so Anton is young, but he didn’t need to prove it by throwing a couple of hissy fits. The first one, earning him a yellow card most observers thought had been given to Carlos Carmona, was stupid. Kicking the ball away when the foul call was blatantly obvious is not smart. That gets him docked a half point. The second was when he was deservedly subbed out after 66 minutes and he stomped off like a five-year-old. Other than that, he was terrible with a game-low Audi Index of -101, driven largely by the yellow card and 5 unsuccessful passes in the attacking half.
CB: Michael Parkhurst – 3. This was my fault. A quote from my score prediction:
Well, that was utterly wrong, wasn’t it? Consider this: D.C.’s top scorer is Luciano Acosta, who has amassed a staggering 4 goals in 23 games. Next on D.C.’s scoring table? Own goals, with 3. In fact, by himself, Parky is tied for D.C.’s second-best goalscorer (along with Lloyd Sam, Ian Harkes, Deshorn Brown and Sebastien Le Toux). His defending in general was weak as well.
CB: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez – 5. LGP was pretty much invisible the entire evening, which would not be surprising for a defender against D.C. However, he had 4 clearances, 1 interception and 3 tackles won. Between him and Guzan, they probably kept the score from being more embarrassing. He had a total of 99 touches and 85 passes, easily the highest numbers on the team, which just proves you can’t win by kicking the ball around in the backfield.
LB: Greg Garza – 4. Greg did not look hampered by his All-Star Game shoulder separation, but was unable to generate much. He had a golden opportunity to score, but was unable to control the ball adequately. Judging by his reaction, he knew it. He was much more aggressive in attack than Walkes on the opposite side, but 3 unsuccessful crosses aren’t going to cut it.
CM: Jeff Larentowicz – 5. A little lucky not to pick up a yellow for double stiff-arming Paul Arriola (and therefore a suspension). Also had one of the two shots on frame, from nearly 40 yards out. He was the top tackler on the team, winning 5 of 7. He played much more advanced than normal, but again that should be expected against a bunkering team like D.C., especially when chasing the game.
CM: Carlos Carmona – 2.5. Continued his poor form from the Sporting Kansas City game. Confused most viewers by not getting a red for a second yellow, although apparently he and Ted Unkel were not confused. However, that was his second yellow in as many games, and does earn him a suspension for the Philadelphia game on Saturday. In contrast to Larentowicz, he did not play more advanced than normal.
CAM: Miguel Almiron – 4. Other than the near miss early that virtually everyone thought was in, Miggy probably had his worst game of the year. He spent a lot of time running into defenders he would easily outpace on a normal day. But when he is out of sorts, the whole offense goes out the window.
LW: Yamil Asad – 3. This was the second straight poor showing from Asad. He was subbed out after 81 minutes, but probably could have come out much earlier. He chose to turn the ball back far too often, thereby shutting the door on potential attacks.
RW: Tito Villalba – 3. Tito was completely ineffectual in this game, and was replaced after 69 minutes of futility. His head did not seem to be in the game at all. He did have one shot on target, - his only shot of the game – from about 25 yards out, which never threatened Bill Hamid.
FWD: Josef Martinez – 4. Came close to finishing a late-game equalizer, but otherwise was never in a good position to be his usual lethal self. He finally looks to be suffering from the effects of two extended layoffs. Can he get back in the groove by Saturday? I guess we’ll find out.
SUB: Julian Gressel – 4. Came on in the 66th minute for Walkes, in what was a moderately offensive switch. He produced one good opportunity right after coming on, but quickly fizzled.
SUB: Brandon Vazquez – 4. Replaced Villalba in the 69th minute. Brandon generated some energy, but was never really able to create good chances. He’s a big target player, but was not used in that role as he should be.
SUB: Chris McCann – 4. Came on for Asad in the 81st minute, and proceeded to do absolutely nothing. Pretty much like the rest of the team really.
COACH: Tata Martino – 4. Tata’s game plan, if he had one, was obviously ineffective, and he did not make any meaningful adjustments. Substitutions didn’t help either. His score would be worse if not for his refusal to shake hands with someone named Ben Olsen after the game. Coaches are supposed to shake hands with other coaches. Soccer teams have coaches. D.C. is not a soccer team. Ergo, no hand shake.
FANS: 0. Can’t rate them if they’re not there. Where the heck were they? It’s not like there’s anything important that has to be done on Thursdays in D.C. I’m not sure, but I think there’s a good chance the traveling ATL supporters outnumbered the locals.
COMMENTATORS: Er…no, I’m not going to touch that.
Enough of the doom and gloom. On to Philadelphia and sunny days (sorry. My humor tank is running low). But before that, I’m off to restock my liquor cabinet, which is inexplicably empty.