We keep covering the same ground – but here we go again.
Here’s the problem when club officials bang the loud drums for their two favorite excuses, refereeing and scheduling: They conveniently forget about occasions when their team benefits from the same.
So we arrive at the latest laments from D.C. United official Kevin Payne, who had this to say about his team’s 3-0 loss Saturday at Montreal:
“This is very poor scheduling,” Payne told The Washington Post. He said the league “needs to pay more attention to the competitive aspects.”
This, of course, is a week after his team managed only a 1-1 draw with Philadelphia at home. That one was on the referee rather than the schedule maker.
It sometimes seems that whenever D.C. United wins, it’s because the players were superior, the tactics were spot-on and the club rose to all its appropriately prescribed glory.
When they fall short, it was the referee. Or the schedule.
To my point of selective memory:
United was, indeed, hard up against a taxing gauntlet of games yesterday. The Black and Red was playing for a third time in seven days. Difficult? Yes.
Did it affect the result, a 3-0 win for Montreal? Probably.
But let’s hit the WABAC Machine and set the date for June 30.
D.C. United beat Montreal that day. Beat the Impact pretty good, too. By a very familiar score: 3-0.
Here’s what Montreal was up against that day: Jesse Marsch’s Impact was playing … wait for it … for the third time in eight days. But it was even worse than that. Montreal was playing its fifth game in 15 days.
For United, the toughest part of this stretch isn’t done. Ben Olsen’s team has a big one against New York this week and then travels across the country to play Real Salt Lake (which, by the way, is up against a brutal schedule slog of its own.)
So, memo to all MLS players, coaches and officials: the schedule is highly imperfect. The refereeing, too, clearly.
But everyone deals with it. Please remember that.
The teams that deal with it best will be nearer to the top at the end. Period.