MLS Team News, Week 23: Injuries, Tactics (Sorta), Rising Stars (Sorta)

Welcome to my first crack at posting team news from all-’round Major League Soccer (MLS). What comes below will be by no means exhaustive; really, it’s only a compilation of what I bumped into during my travels. And, of course, anyone feeling I made a grave omission is welcome to correct that in the comments; by the same token, tips and mentions to reports are also welcome, so’s I can post those in future editions.

And, yes, I’m aware that I’m starting this feature appallingly late in the season. Without further adu…shit, habit…without further adu – dammit! seriously, it happened again – without further ADO, enjoy the team news. If I skipped your bunch, it doesn’t mean I don’t like ’em; you’ll notice entries for both DC United and the Los Angeles Galaxy below. Hell, I’ll even start with ’em:

DC United
Marc Burch finds his MLS niche

Emilio’s and Vanney’s upside(s)

Kissing Ben Olsen’s butt, but also laying out good dish on DC’s tactics.

Los Angeles Galaxy

Look at all them injuries. It’s true: nobody walks in LA.

New England Revolution

The FNGs from Gambia (don’t worry about the name in the headline; he ain’t comin’).

Real Salt Lake

Beckerman believes in Kreis (see bottom)

Colorado Rapids

Casey rising; Sanneh plugging holes

Kansas City Wizards

Hunting the August Slump

Chicago Fire

Gimpy Guerrero

Columbus Crew

Comings/Goings (Szetela); Convalescing and Waivers

FC Dallas

FrankenCooper “ready to push himself”; Goodson concussion

New York Red Bulls (or is it Red Bull New York?)

Jozy’s injury; Galarcep’s sass

Well, that’s it for this….waitaminute…whoops…

Toronto FC

Dichio’s busted foot, TFC’s doomed season.

OK, done now for reals.

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DC Routs RBNY – On a Roll? (I Think So)

Watching last night’s game has me feeling a lot like right about Red Bull New York and DC United – though more about the latter than the former. As you’ll see in the (barely coherent) notes transcribed below, I’m thinking DC is rounding into their formula.

On a very basic level, the secret of DC’s success boils down to having good players playing a simple and correct game; the crucial thing comes with getting the players singing from the same sheet – as DC is doing right now. They get into this rhythm and, every time the other team presses – as Red Bull tried to do late – DC, down to a man, can cope. It’s the combination of passing and moving. You can teach a fucking monkey to do this, but too few teams do.

In a moment of some extravagance (what can I say? I get a little, um, “loose” when I watch a game…or is it tight?), I wrote, “This is the future of American soccer: teaching these basics – e.g. passing and movement off the ball – to the players.” That’s not it, of course: we’ll take the next step, as a league and as a national team, when players can build from those basics, but kind of nuts and bolts of that kind matter to the point of being fundamental.

As for Red Bull, I’m back to thinking I had them pegged a week or so ago; this simply isn’t that good a team. They struggle to use the good parts they have, against decent opposition at least. More significantly, Red Bull didn’t look all that different in last night’s loss than they did in a recent(-ish) win over Toronto: actually, they kept more passes in play last night, but the passes out of the back failed to find their mark, while DC’s pressure kept them from playing through the midfield.

Moving on to my notes…which are amended in parentheses where necessary…which seems too often by far… Continue reading

DC’s Statement over the Crew

So, my weekend viewing went a little sideways. My original plan had me taking in Red Bull v. LA – and I’m very glad to have stuck with that. The other one-to-two games I expected to watch were Columbus Crew v. DC United (first) and Real Salt Lake v. Chicago Fire (second); I sorta managed the former – by which I mean, I watched it in archived chunks, mainly because I ran across the final score before watching. I caught highlights for Salt Lake v. Chicago – great goal by Cuauthemoc Blanco, by the way (look for it on Youtube…now) – but otherwise blew off. I don’t know that I missed much – I mean, RSL lost…again – while Chicago’s new toys worked as advertised. At the same time, I can’t say New England v. Kansas City was a better game; I’d be surprised, in fact, if it was.

So, with the caveat that I didn’t watch every minute in real time, Columbus versus DC looked like a pretty educational affair. The scoreline flattered DC, if only just: by that I mean, Columbus isn’t significantly worse, but their attack suffers from fairly severe limitations; put in more blunt terms, this team really needs a “go-to” forward. In players like Luciano Emilio and, on Saturday, Fred, DC has those players – and that’s why they won.

It’s not all a wash for the Crew, though. The recent defensive stability of Columbus seems to have left the buidling with Chad Marshall; his replacement, Ezra Hendrickson, struggled all day – and he was almost completely at fault for DC’s insurance goal. I’m not a firm believer in Rusty Pierce, either, and, looking at the line-up, I wonder how much the decision to shift Stephani Miglioranzi into midfield (and I’m assuming this is what happened) hurt the Crew.

For all that, however, the Crew kept the ball about as well as DC and did, for as much of the game as I watched, limit their chances while setting up enough of their own. Those chances weren’t great ones – call the majority of ’em half- or even quarter-chances – but the Crew have enough in defense and midfield to keep DC out of their defensive third. Again, they just don’t have enough to win against a team as good as DC.

DC continues to impress me. Their success is not built on great players – I find DC’s roster good in spots, but overall underwhelming – but on their capacity to play as a team. The movement is crisp and coordinated, they shrink the field to a postage stamp with pressure well up the field, and, when they’re in position, they’ve got the talent to exploit the opportunities. It’s a good formula, one I think has been part of DC’s approach since the Piotr Nowak took over. Whether I’m right or wrong here, one thing is for sure: DC is a team to watch down the stretch. Put another way, I think they’ll be number one again in my rankings at least.