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There are good mistakes and bad mistakes. For a good example, watch New England Revolution defender Michael Parkhurst on this goal by Youri Djorkaeff. Parkhurst demonstrates excellent awareness, anticipation, positioning and self-confidence. He also misses the ball, springing Djorkaeff on an unimpeded run to goal. He recovers instantly and nearly catches him (but doesn't), avoids fouling to give Matt Reis a chance to make the breakaway save (which in this case he doesn't) and does not get red-carded to force his team to play the rest of the game and a potential decisive overtime (which doesn't turn out to happen) shorthanded. Although Parkhurst's initial decision did result in an opponents' goal, it was still right, as were his subsequent failed attempts to recover. Every defensive play has risks, and if he tried the same things on a hundred repetitions of this one, I doubt the Metrostars score on any other of them.  

For contrast, watch goalkeeper Nick Rimando on Jack Stewart's opening goal in DC United's collapse against the Chicago Fire. It gets funnier with every replay. Rimando is nearly at the back post (otherwise ungarded, you'll note) when the corner kick is struck, with two players almost directly in front of him. As the ball swings in, he charges wildly across the goal mouth, flinging himself uncontrollably into the air in apparent anticipation of a Jim Curtin header that doesn't come that close to happening and he'd have been wildly lucky to touch if it had. This not only puts him yards out of position for the ensuing shot, but since he'd assumed personal responsibility for the back post, opens the exact space into which the shot goes. This is dismal individual decision-making, woeful defensive organization, obliviously self-destructive team play, and probably even flawed coaching. Repeat this one a hundred times and although Chicago won't always score, it will almost never be Rimando's actions that prevent them.  

DC is now in the off-season. The Revs host the Eastern Conference Final on Sunday, and Michael Parkhurst just won Rookie of the Year.
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