Saturday, March 25, 2017

New England Revolution 5-2 Minnesota United FC: I Can't Scout Under These Conditions

Minnesota is ruining science.
Until further notice, it makes sense to set results against Minnesota United FC outside the normal run of results. Their defense is that bad, worse even than the (holy shit!) 18 goals they’ve allowed this season. That’s over four games, or a faint-inducing 4.5 goals conceded per game.

I just, oh, 2/3 watched the New England Revolution beat Minnesota 5-2 (you can get most the information noted herein by bouncing around in there), and that 1/3-level distraction owes pretty much everything to the point made above. This thing ended as a contest at the half, so, when given the chance to read about the shit-show that is Southern manufacturing (Note: depressing), I didn’t mind the distraction so much. It only occurred to me around the 70th minute that I was watching the Portland Timbers’ next opponent after Columbus Crew SC today, but I don’t think a game this screwy gives much in the way of insight…

…but, I’m here, and now you’re here, so I may as well say something. Here goes.

Scouting New England
- With allowances for what I’m now calling the Vadim Demidov rule, Juan Agudelo had a great game. He scored two goals and drew a penalty (against Demidov), but his first was a headed tap-in, and his second owes at least a little to bad goalkeeping by Bobby Shuttleworth.
- Diego Fagundez impressed me today as much as anyone, and mostly with the range and quality of his passing. While not even sort of perfect, his feed to Lee Nguyen (of whom, meh) for New England’s 2nd broke a bad spell for the Revs that saw them playing too wide. Minnesota also struggled to contain his runs, letting him break the midfield line again and again and again (and again).
- I like where I’m seeing Kelyn Rowe for New England. He’s a pugnacious little shit, so I think playing him more centrally, and a little deeper suits him.
- Given how freakishly lopsided this game was, the breakdowns in New England’s defense should have them worried/Timbers fans salivating. I’m talking less about that first goal – which required a deflection from the gods – than the second set-piece goal, or the couple times ‘keeper Cody Cropper bobbled crosses. Cropper did come up with a big save, but the way that ball bobbled around didn't look so good. With Portland’s attack putting defenses in a blender, that doesn’t augur well for New England’s upcoming visit to the Rose City.

Pitying Minnesota
So far, this team has set out to answer the question, is there an MLS level? And they are answering in a strong positive. I could note that Bashkim Kadrii managed a couple decent crosses in the first half (but not enough of them, clearly, seeing as he got subbed at the half), but nothing really matters for Minnesota till they get their defense in order. And I mean all of their defense, because the problems run far, far, deeper than Demidov, or even just the back four. The midfield separated from the defense repeatedly in the first half, which left Revolution attackers running free in the space in between…and Minnesota just can’t do that, not with defenders that are that bad/slow/shitty.

Because Minnesota can’t just bring in defenders willy-nilly, this team needs to change how they defend. And urgently. Even if it’s just stacking the two banks of four inside the 18, they simply have to stop bleeding goals or they are going to have a shitty, shitty, shitty – and, one more – SHITTY season. Unless I miss my count, they’re sitting on a -12 goal differential. Four games in. That is disastrous.

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