Monday, May 22, 2017

MLS Week 12 Review: A Game of the Week, 10 Thoughts, Then Bedtime, MFs!!

Yeah. You feel the breeze, don't ya?
I’ll start with a brief bad news, good news set-up. It might be good news, good news, depending on a couple things.

First, I’m busy enough with other stuff I’m excited about (music, mostly*), that I only want to delve deeply into soccer only once a week. I might sneak in a post here and there and, ideally, kick out a steady stream of polls on twitter, but I haven’t yet rearranged my mental space to make that work. Sit tight. And if you start hating the music stuff (and the politics…so, SO sorry), feel free to ignore/unfollow. Not trying to piss off anyone, just going where the spirit moves me.

Second, I count flagging Toronto FC’s Victor Vazquez early as one of my brighter insights of 2017. As such, I want to more of that and less long-form explanations and about 10 fewer “brain-farts.” Also, I intend to raise the brain-farts to the dignity of “thoughts.”

Finally, I will keep watching one game besides Portland Timbers v. _________ every week (this week's write-up, btw). Reviewing that, plus the 10 thoughts will be my weekly Major League Soccer post. And that’ll go up Sunday nights. And, hey, done with the preamble. Eat shit, Thomas Jefferson…

Minnesota United FC 1-2 Los Angeles Galaxy (of which, I really only saw the second half)
Sincerely ugly for stretches, (the second half of) this game played out with everything rolling Minnesota’s way…except when it came to moving the ball up the middle with any sort of menace. And when you think that little of LA’s Joao Pedro (like me), that reads like the Loons don’t know how to get up the middle. What they do (or just what they did against LA) well, however, is slowly compress the opposing team until they can start shelling them with crosses – and that’s not a terrible idea with Christian “7 goals” Ramirez roaming the box. (And who got the assist?)

Still, careful readers might have noticed that LA won the game – and in Minnesota (home team first, and all that). Credit LA’s Brian Rowe for that…and probably also Minnesota’s reliance on crosses for offense. For all the pressure they put on LA (and on other teams, generally), they can get impatient with their timing, and that makes a low-upside tactic go a little lower. Minnesota fought like hell for that equalizer, which only makes Ramirez’ own-goal more of a shame.

LA, for their part, has no business feeling smug. The problem begins with how a player as hot as Romain Alessandrini can produce so few goals. Gyasi Zardes has been a big part of the problem, that’s by way of being gone to start the season and rusty as nails in an old barn against Minnesota. Again, when someone’s supposed to be your team’s star…

The other thing about LA, they are wimps in the tackle (well, apart from you know who). Minnesota picked up most of its momentum just by way of sticking into their tackles. Part of me says this wasn’t an isolated incident…

And, that’s it for the game of the week. Moving on, now, to 10 thoughts, random ones. Things that struck me as most important. Forgive me if they’re obvious. I’m just watching games now; I barely read a thing anymore. Also, any time I make a direct, confident statement below, the reader is directed to insert, “from the looks of it,” afterwards because, STANDING DISCLOSURE, I only watch the condensed version for every game except the Timbers game an the Game of the Week. OK, carrying on…

1) DC United has been crap this season, and a big part of that grows from their (now) three straight home losses (but, hey, just six goals against. Oh, but...). Bill Hamid has been his usual heroic self, but DC's attack embarrassed itself against the Chicago Fire (again, the Chicago Fire).

2) If you need a sign as to the magnitude of Chicago’s turn-around, they can field a player like Michael de Leeuw, who is very much the Fire’s version of the Colorado Rapids’ Kevin Doyle – e.g. a striker/forward who attends to everything but The Prime Directive (e.g. scoring). Chicago can cover Doy...I mean, de Leeuw because they've got some good horses; feels like it’s just about rebuilding the culture now.

3) Comments after both goals in the New York Red Bulls’ draw against TFC noted the same thing: that Toronto was the better team. So continues Toronto's solid run (6-1-3 in their last 10 games, and in  a 13-game season?) – which has now gone on long enough that it’ll take a couple weeks’ bad results to shift perception. This team has it figured out, so the challenge becomes remaining whole. And Drew Moor was back.

4) Miguel Almiron finally had his break out game for Atlanta United FC…if it becomes his breakout game. He dug in harder than ever before, to his credit, and Almiron put most of it together technically, showing his separation speed all over against the Houston Dynamo….who have been a terrible road team this season. Great game for Almiron and Atlanta, by the looks of it; just file away the caveats.

5) There’s no ignoring, the Philadelphia Union’s Glory Week. The good times come from a number of things – among them, C. J. Sapong looks like the crazy, muscular daddy long legs he’s long threatened to be, the remarkably elegant Haris Medunjanin acting as metronome (but how does he defend?), a return of the good moments for Chris Pontius (two assists v. Houston, and a smart ducking act v. Colorado Rapids) – but I’d keep on eye on new kid/defender, Jack Elliott. Nothing would make me happier in 2017 than Philly being this year’s Colorado. It’d be better still if they didn’t follow that up by being 2017’s Colorado…

6) Carrying on, Colorado presented a good contrast with Philly. The Union played complacent at times, while Colorado, fielding some new faces, carried the momentum early, and scored the first goal. The game turned in the end, with Philly well in control by the start of the second (and up a man after the 70th), but, if you need an explanation for why things worked. See #5.

7) The Vancouver Whitecaps are on a bonafide tear ( 5-3-0 in their last eight, they're winning more than they're losing), they’re lined up as their best possible selves, a conundrum for other teams to solve till they do (and they will, see Portland Timbers start of 2016), and, sure, Sporting Kansas City started a B-side, no question, but they also brought in players and chased the game. Vancouver still shelled Tim Melia’s goal. More than anything else, watch Cristian Techera on his goal; that movement was prescient and clear-headed enough to make that shot happen. Watch Vancouver. Till further notice...wait, see #9, because it's the same basic idea, only better for Vancouver.

8) Roger Espinoza should get nailed by the Disciplinary Committee for this atrocity (no, no, wait till 1:00 on that video; then decide). Justice only started when Vancouver scored off the ensuing free kick.

9) The New England Revolution overcame the lights-out GOTW (yes, even better than the morning line favorite) to beat Columbus Crew SC 2-1at home (and damned fine pass by Wil Trapp…but two “Ls,” son), and I’m guessing they did it to prove the point that they can bestir themselves to beat any team, on any given day. Watch their equalizer, count the key players: that’s what I’m talking about (and they’ve got a couple others on the bench like Juan Agudelo (and…shhh…it’s late)). Like, say, Diego Fagundez

10) Whatever’s wrong with the Seattle Sounders this season has nothing to do with Jordan Morris (well, except insofar as he’s been absent). Seattle had enormous success feeding runs through Real Salt Lake’s defense and Morris had a lot to do with that…along with RSL’s defense…who forced a heroic and doomed performance for the ages out of Nick Rimando. That’ll be his, “remember when I used to stone you little shits?” speech at the old folks’ home.

And, done. Sorry go short, I did a lot of shit today, at least half of which you didn’t see. Also, won’t lie: I didn’t watch every condensed game this weekend. Still, goal is to watch my two games, talk about those, and then catch/comment on the rest, best as I can. This is what I have the energy and inspiration for these days. So long as the time I put in on these reasonably matches the traffic I pick up (and, so far, it does), I’ll keep going…otherwise, I’ve got other stuff going on that roughly as many people read…and, frankly, I enjoy that stuff more right now. How do I know? When I post it and no one seems to read it, I don’t care. Guys, again, Lou Reed is really cool. Just…yes, pushy. But what if you don’t know?

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