By Tony Edwards – San Jose, CA (June 17, 2014) US Soccer Players – The Portland Timbers and Philadelphia Union have offered enough talking points already this MLS season for mostly the wrong reasons. If there’s one thing about underachieving teams, they usually keep offering up the most compelling storylines. Why concentrate on a winner when you can focus on an MLS basket case? Fortunately, it’s not just the Philadelphia Union and the Portland Timbers.
Would it be better for the Portland Timbers to be boring?
Portland Timbers coach Caleb Porter told The Columbian the issue is mostly at the back. “We’re not organized enough, not tight enough, not confident enough, not disciplined enough,” he said after last Wednesday’s 2-2 draw to Dallas. “There are good attacking players in this league, and you need guys that are able to shut people down.”
That’s the sound of a coach who stuck with the players who brought him success last year. Players who are now another year older and less able to shut down other teams. I’d imagine it’s also a coach who looks at his team and can’t figure out why half of their games resulted in ties. I’d add to that an odd trend for Portland to not score away from home, with only nine road goals this season.
Who is 80% responsible for the coaching change in Philadelphia?
Let’s turn this over to Union CEO and Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz. He made it clear who was to blame for the club’s disappointing start.
“The last time I made a coaching change it wasn’t on the players,” Sakiewicz told the Philadelphia CBS station. “It was on the management that time. This time, it’s 80% on the players. Coaches are always responsible, but it goes back to a word that Jim used, which is accountability.”
Or, perhaps more precisely, 80% accountable.
Why don’t we look at the positives for Philadelphia? They’ve scored more road goals than Portland has (12 to 9). They lead MLS in corners taken with 94. They lead MLS in total shots with 228. They are only three points out of being tied for a playoff spot. They have a not overwhelming MLS schedule to look forward to once the season resumes. At New England, at Dallas, home against Colorado and the Red Bulls, before finishing July at Chicago. They will likely defeat Harrisburg this coming week in the US Open Cup and then have a week-and-a-half for interim coach Jim Curtin to reshape the team.
Did the Cosmos win their US Open Cup against the Red Bulls on pure emotion?
I’m the last guy to say that a team wins a game just on emotions, but certainly Saturday’s Cosmos – Red Bulls game certainly was an example of one team playing with nothing to lose. While that will be the easy storyline, the Cosmos executed their plan better than the Red Bulls. It was also an off day at a bad time for the MLS team.
As I wrote last week, it was a no-win for the Red Bulls. Win, and they did what they were supposed to with a far from first choice line up. Lose, and it brings up all the questions.
The game wasn’t quite as one-sided as the stats and score makes it look. However, the Cosmos deserved the victory. Mads Stokkelien scored twice for the Cosmos and their physical play made it difficult for the Red Bulls to build useful possession. In an interview during the broadcast, Red Bulls assistant coach Robin Fraser cited the field size and the weather playing into the Cosmos’ favor. All true, but the Cosmos executed better and took their chances.
Who was one of the Crew’s better performers in the draw with DC United?
Defender Eric Gehrig probably could have signed with an NASL or USL team, given that he had a nonguaranteed contract when the season started. As Adam Jardy wrote in the Columbus Dispatch, when preseason started, Gehrig was behind Michael Parkhurst and Josh Williams in the central defense. Then, Columbus went out and picked up Giancarlo Gonzalez, another center back.
Gehrig’s first game this season was May 24 (a 2-0 win over the Fire). Then after being out when USMNT player Michael Parkhurst returned, Gehrig came back into the lineup for the 0-0 draw against Eastern Conference leaders DC.
“It feels good,” Gehrig told the Dispatch. “I knew with the World Cup thing there were going to be opportunities to be had. (Berhalter) has been backing us (all). It’s about taking advantage of the opportunities when they come.”
Hey, sometimes the answers aren’t in South America or Europe. Sometimes they are undrafted out of Loyola-Chicago and just need a chance.
How does FIFA resemble MLS circa 1999?
Back in the first decade of its existence, an MLS game was the home team wearing their primary color(s) and the visitors wearing white. Despite some consternation, MLS would point to its broadcasting partners and cite the need for contrast when the game was on a black and white screen (not making this up). Hey, people still had old style televisions back then, but times were changing. The other US pro leagues that existed in the black and white era were already considering mothballing the old contrasting uniforms regulations. It’s now 15 years later, and we’re well into the era of the flat screen and even over-air broadcasts are high definition.
In 2014, some MLS teams don’t even have a white jersey. Hello, San Jose and Colorado. So if MLS has moved on, then why, for instance, are we watching two traditional national team powers, Spain and the Netherlands, wearing blue and white, and not orange and red?
Well, the whole world isn’t the United States. In other words, we’re back to the black-and-white screen issue. In that game, the Netherlands were designated Team A, and wanted to wear orange. Hence, Spain would wear their black away jersey, right?
“In the eyes of FIFA, that’s not a big enough contrast,” Tom King, the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Managing Director of Administration told his organization’s website. “They want white and then a dark color. An orange and a black on certain TVs doesn’t come across as well. In certain parts of the world there aren’t always color TVs, so FIFA is looking for a broader contrast.”
Tony Edwards is a soccer writer from the Bay Area.