MLS Cup Preview: The Revs’ O versus Houston’s (Formidable) D

(UPDATE: Blue Blooded Journo is plugging away at match-up previews of his own. Do check out his latest on Shalrie Joseph (and others) v. Dwayne DeRosario (and others).)

Ever start a project only to realize you’ve built in some redundancy? It only occurs to me now as I’m sitting down to write this, how much of the offense/defense stuff I covered in yesterday’s post on the midfield match-up. That said, I’ll be tightening the focus today, keying in on how, and how well, each team’s forwards coordinate with their midfield. And, for no particular reason, I’m going to start with New England’s offense versus the mighty, mighty Houston Dynamo back four.

By coincidence (and we’re talking big coincidence ‘cause I really haven’t poked around much today) MLSnet.com posted an ode to the Dynamo back line by freelancer and Very Smart Man, Steve Davis. There, you’ll find both bang-up stats and some entirely valid thoughts as to what makes the four-man team of Craig Waibel, Ryan Cochrane, Eddie Robinson, and Wade Barrett effective to the point of making history.

In his piece, Davis points to the mystery of why these four clearly quality players have earned so few caps for the U.S. National team. The answer centers on the Dynamo’s one weakness, one that focuses, in the main, on one man: Eddie Robinson. And what’s that answer? Robinson plays hard – if a little too hard; in my mind, he pushes the “thug” envelope to the breaking point; when the bitter sets in, I tend to view him as a dirty player. Robinson’s 70 fouls put him second in the league (behind Juan Toja) and his 11 cautions put him in first (stats here, but you’ve got to find ’em), both of which tell me that the refs see at least some of what I do. So, to answer Davis’ question directly, Eddie won’t get a call up because he’ll confront his teammates with a conga line of free kicks.

So, yeah, I’m no fan of Robinson. And his problems with fouls have a meaningful practical downside – not just the free kicks I alluded to above, but there’s also card trouble and what that will do to his play if he picks up one early. Fortunately, he’s got first-rate help all around him: Waibel holds down Houston’s right brilliantly with hard, clean play (take note, Eddie); I rate Cochrane higher than Robinson on both offensive and defensive terms; and I think Barrett is pure class, one of the league’s most complete and accomplished left backs. Add ‘keeper Pat Onstad and it’s no wonder these cats made history in 2007.

And, with regard to how this group works together, do note the stats at the end of Davis’ piece – specifically, the shots and shots on goal allowed.

What do the Revolution bring against this highly formidable back four – a unit that receives useful, at times ample, help from midfielders like Richard Mulrooney and Brian Mullan? Put it this way: I don’t know how many free-kicks “Red Rage” Robinson would have to surrender before the Revolution can exploit one, but suspect it’s higher than he’ll achieve over the course of 90, or even 120, minutes. So, let’s take a look at Plan B (I kid, I kid; this is Plan A). Continue reading

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MLS Seattle sparks talk of MLS Philly

Funding Progressing Slowly                    MLS Narrows the Field

Couple things we find out from these articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Should know by the end of the year whether or not the stadium will in fact be built. In turn, we will know if MLS Philly will go through.

MLS Philly will most likely play in a temporary venue (like my second home of Franklin Field) until the completion of the stadium in 2010.

Main concerns slowing up the process: Does this negatively impact the taxpayers? Where is the real benefit to Chester’s residents – “Chester needs supermarkets, rec centers, and schools before it needs a stadium”

Chance that Philly will be announced tomorrow as the next franchise in Don Garber’s Annual State of the League Address? – Slim to none.

Good news? – The Senate Appropriations Committee authorized spending $45 million on the Chester Waterfront stadium and other developments.

Catch? – That doesn’t mean it WILL be spent for that, but it’s a step closer.

It all comes down to the state of Pennsylvania and whether they share the passion that Governor Ed Rendell, former Chester mayor Domenic Pileggi, the Sons of Ben, and the who MLS Philly investor group share. Call it FC Delco for all is care, just please give our Philadelphians our team.

And Today’s Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Reminds me of the time I was 3 years old and my Grandma told some other lady to ‘F-off’.

(Thanks to The Offside Rules)