MLS Daily Sweeper, 03.24: Resources, Riots, and Goal-Scoring Mysteries

Again…most go quickly…no photos, etc.

Climbing the Ladder – god bless ‘im – posted something wonderful: expected starting elevens for every team in Major League Soccer (MLS), broken down by conference (Eastern and Western).  I will be using those for my upcoming conference previews (Tuesday? Wednesday? just some time before Saturday)…unlike the, um, previews I’ve been saving for the past two weeks.  Also, go vote in his MLS survey.

MLS Rumors picked up reports of fan/security misbehavior during last week’s CONCACAF Champions Cup quaterfinal between Deportivo Saprissa and Atlante FC.  If you don’t trust MLS Rumors, there’s video in the post as well as a link to an article from Medio Tiempo…unfortunately, I don’t speak Spanish and don’t have time for (the ever-comical) Babelfish, so will just pass it on and let you make of it what you will.  Assuming it’s all accurate, it’d be interesting if Saprissa got slapped with a stadium ban for the semifinal v. Houston.  It will also be interesting if they don’t.  Suppose that makes this win/win, right?

– This one is just a little fun.  Who scored the winner in the Kansas City Wizards’ win over Real Salt Lake?  Was it Jimmy ConradScott Sealy?  Drum-roll, please…by a score of two sources to one, Conrad has it!  The more surprising thing is how anyone confused Sealy and Conrad…

– Finally, fans of the Chicago Fire and Toronto FC: click those links and enjoy your gloom.  Hmm.  Not there yet?  Well, try this, Toronto fans!  And this, Chicago fans!

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Kansas City Wizards 2007 Review: Limits of Positive Thinking

Kansas City Wizards

Record (W-L-T): 11-12-7; 45 GF, 45 GA

Source Material: Schedule/match reports; roster

 

(NOTE: Sorry about the format – e.g. the automatic, uncorrectable double-spacing; I transferred this from Word – which, curiously enough, works on a Mac. CHRIST, I hate when these fucking machines make my formatting decisions for me. Fuck you Bill Gates! You don’t know what I want!)

Overview

New England Revolution fan that I am (even if I run hot-cold), it’s not too surprising that I gathered my impression of the Kansas City Wizards 2007 season through that team – specifically, a late May 4-3 run-‘n’-gun win and a pair of bustling, barging losses in August. The former confirmed reports of a new, attack-happy approach under new coach Kurt Onalfo; the latter, on the other hand, revealed its limitations against a team willing to play the heavies. The dates of both games are crucial as well: the forward-looking style had KC creeping toward “darling” status in the season’s early going – as in, thank God, a team that tries to win – while the August loss came during a time when it seemed like they’d again miss the post-season. They made it in the end, of course: they even won their first-round series against Chivas USA. But it wasn’t as the same team that started 2007.

 

Like a couple other Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs, KC was one of the hot start, cool finish sides – and there’s some truth to this narrative, though it’s more complicated than that. KC definitely started well – going 6-2-2 from the April opening to the first weeks of June – and the rot did sneak in immediately after in the form of a six-game winless streak. What followed, however, constitutes one of the weirder pattern of results I’ve ever seen….or, perhaps, noticed. Apart from a “blip” in July when they picked up two wins, the Wizards kind of staggered through the remainder of 2007 and into the playoffs on the back of just one win per month. Continue reading

LA 1-0 KC: The Joys of Catching Up Mid-Game

There’s something vaguely enlightening about catching a game midway through – though, obviously, not as enlightening as seeing one unfold from start to finish.  Still, there’s this process, a step-by-step weighing of the successive moments you’re seeing on the screen against the expectations you had for the game before kick-off.

For instance, when I tuned in around the 60th minute to last night’s MLS Primetime tilt between LA and KC, I noticed the scoreline first.  1-0 (where the score would remain): this was only mildly surprising given LA’s relative improvement.  At the same time, I figured one of the teams would have scored: LA by countering against KC’s weak defense or KC just by piling on an LA squad that can be nervy top-to-bottom.

That made it time to reassess.  To begin, KC seemed pinned in their own end; that wasn’t so expected.  For a few minutes, KC couldn’t clear the ball beyond their half line and they didn’t seem to have players forward.  The mystery behind that came to an end, thanks to ESPN/Americans deep appreciation for graphic overkill: (well) within five minutes I discovered KC’s Jimmy Conrad had been sent off earlier – the 57th minute to be precise (as opposed to the 17th minute my eyes kept seeing; shit, I need new glasses).

The game went forward from there and, suddenly, what showed on the screen made sense: KC fighting off LA and breaking forward on occasion in one to three-man forays.  LA attacked, but not too sharply, hoisting crosses over the scrum in front of goal again and again; in one memorable moment, (I think) Mike Randolph ran down the touch-line and, after seeming to tire, whacked to attempted crosses against a KC defender.  Pretty pathetic stuff and all the above factors pointed to a goal-less draw.

With dinner in progress and things looking as they did, the motivation to stick by the TV didn’t hold.  Then came the shouting – Gavin Glinton scored – and then came Davy Arnaud’s wicked challenge on Pete Vanegas, who I read was the victim of the first red-card challenge as well.  Game over, really.

I think the point is, seeing the game unfold as it did gave me new things to think about KC’s defense first and LA’s offense second.  I still think of KC’s defense as their Achilles’ heel, the thing most likely to keep them out of the post-season.  Seeing LA’s offense struggle – and it did, awfully at times – against that defense makes reassessing the Galaxy’s capability as spoilers seem wise.  And for all I heard about KC ruing blown chances from the game’s earlier, halcyon minutes, the question of whether their offense will be enough to bail out that dicey defense bears watching as well.

KC’s not in the playoffs yet.  If I were a Wizards fan, I’d stock up heavily on whatever it takes to calm me.