Fans' View

Fans’s View: Reconciling the gut punch

Photo: Paul Rudderow

I was looking forward to the game all week. I always do.

It didn’t matter that the Union have sucked. My wife and I couldn’t wait Saturday morning as we were preparing for the game, packing snacks and drinks and making sure that we got there early as usual. There was no way they were going to lose yet another game. I had a good feeling they were going to turn it around and start a comeback that would put them on track.

It was 3-1 at the half, and I was feeling good that we had this one in the bag.

After the second half, I couldn’t believe what I’d just witnessed.

As is my way, I began to try and reconcile in my mind what had actually transpired and what it meant in the bigger picture of this season and franchise.

Last time, I talked about leadership. The idea is that the team plays well for most of the game and puts up decent numbers in some stats, but they simply cannot score consistently or keep the ball out of their net for a full game. I said that they need the more experienced and established players to help the others stay in the game long enough to get the result.

They are now seven games into the season and winless. The fans, including this one, are getting restless. Even the Sons of Ben had one of the worst turnouts I’ve ever seen at the Montreal game. Many say the team is falling apart and needs to be blown up — including the coach — and start over. Others think we need to spend money on par with the rest of the league and get a top dollar striker or mid-fielder.

I stand by my assertion.

I have personally witnessed the difference a change of attitude makes. You can take a motley crew of merely professional but not stand-out players and make a team out of them. It’s been done — especially in MLS. What you need is to get them to buy in and understand their roles. They must believe they have a chance and they must prove it every time they step on the field.

The other team doesn’t care who you are. You have to make them care.

In American professional sports, every player and team is competent. With this level of parity, the differences between the good teams and the bad ones are in their consistency in preventing mistakes and capitalizing on their opponent’s mistakes.

This takes confidence, teamwork and work ethic.

Does that mean they need new players? Maybe. One can argue that precisely what you’re paying for in the expensive players are the character traits I mentioned.

I think they can do it with the current roster.

One thing I believe we can all agree on is that they need something or someone to change, and they need it fast.

6 Comments

  1. Adam Schorr says:

    Bill Simmons wrote about the “Levels of Losing”. Now, that applied to high-stakes games, but I think the concept is still good here. I thought about it because you called it “the gut punch” and there was a level called the “stomach punch”.
    .
    Level XV: The Achilles’ Heel
    Definition: This defeat transcends the actual game, because it revealed something larger about your team, a fatal flaw exposed for everyone to see. … Flare guns are fired, red flags are raised, doubt seeps into your team. … Usually the beginning of the end. (You don’t fully comprehend this until you’re reflecting back on it.)
    .
    Level XIII: The Rabbit’s Foot
    Definition: Now we’re starting to get into “Outright Painful” territory. … This applies to those frustrating games and/or series in which every single break seemingly goes against your team. … Unbelievably frustrating. … You know that sinking, “Oh, God, I’ve been here before” feeling when something unfortunate happens, when your guard immediately goes shooting up? … Yeah, I’m wincing just writing about it.
    .
    We’re in those low levels of losing where the stakes aren’t as high, but every game is a painful experience of “This team isn’t turning it around, this team is going to blow it” followed by them blowing it. I’m not much of a believer of intangibles, but I am a believer of psychology, and when you’re in a rut like this, major changes need to be made. Even at 3-0, everybody on that field was looking at each other, not thinking “we’re going to win this”, but “I hope we don’t blow this”. You can’t win with that mindset.
    .
    Good on you for still going to every game. I don’t have the gut to handle it.

  2. Time for Actjon

    Fire Curtin. Shop and Sell Blake now to the highest bidder. Buy a quality# 10 now and a veteran goalie with proceeds, Do not resign Alberg or Ilshinio Simpson or Onyewu. Renegotiate Edus salary, He owes the Union money for his absence due to injury at this point, If he is not playing 60 minutes a game by July 1st release him,

    • Blake isn’t worth what you think he is.

      • Blake has too many holes in his game. People need to stop thinking he’s a gold mine just waiting to be uncovered. Stewart has even said there’s been little to no interest.

  3. Bless you John, because I don’t know how you do it.

  4. Andy Muenz says:

    So you were the other guy there Saturday. I haven’t missed any home games, but I’m going to be in Virginia the week of May 8 and was thinking of catching the game at RFK on the way home Saturday night (May 13). Given that I haven’t bought tickets yet, I’m definitely on the fence as to whether to bother.

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