By Tony Edwards – San Jose, CA (Apr 17, 2012) US Soccer Players — Time for questions, with Tony asking about Portland's defensive problems, the mindset needed to play a 433, and scoring woes at DC United.
How often does a team lead MLS in both goals scored and goals allowed?
Not often even at this stage, but right now, the Red Bulls are in the conversation, having scored 16 (first) and allowed 10 (tied for third most allowed). Yes, Wilman Conde is out, but the marking and organization on Saturday was awful.
How often this season has Portland coughed up a lead and lost a game?
The last three games. Even more concerning for Portland is that only one team in the League, Montreal (with 14), has given up more goals than the 11 surrendered by the Timbers. With Chivas USA finding points and wins recently, Portland is last in the Western Conference with four points from six games played. The two teams ahead of them have yet to play their sixth game.
"I think I still believe that we have quality, and we have quality to win the games," Portland coach John Spencer said after the latest loss. "For me confidence is obviously a big factor when you have a losing streak and it’s the same the other way when you go on a winning streak and you feel unbeatable."
What does former US National Team Player, and Ajax veteran, John O'Brien suggest needs to happen when a team is playing 433?
"You're pretty exposed and so if you don't keep the ball, you're definitely very open for counters,” O'Brien told Soccer America. Ridge Mahoney's excellent article, which also includes interviews with former US National Team member Kerry Zavagnin and current member Jeff Larentowicz, should be required reading for anyone interested (in a nontechnical way) in what is needed for a team to prosper playing the 433. The quick takeaway? Time to build familiarity and get comfortable in transition.
What's going on with Hamdi Salihi?
Not a lot in 65 minutes. According to the MLS Chalkboards, he only touched the ball 34 times in those 65 minutes, with only 14 successful passes and 3 shots off target. Former US National Team member Ben Olsen has DC in third place, but 7 goals in 6 games highlights the need for their Designated Player to produce.
Who's going to play for San Jose this weekend?
With Victor Bernardez, Alan Gordon, Stephen Lenhart, Shea Salinas, and Tim Ward all likely to be out, the Earthquakes' depth will be tested immediately. While it's true San Jose had the majority of possession in the second half in New Jersey, it was cautious possession. Instead of going for the three points that a disorganized Red Bulls seemed to offer, San Jose played it safe.