Six Degrees: Unbeatable

unbeatable


1) This might be a short column. It’ll definitely be a challenge for me to write, mostly because I can’t seem to summon any enthusiasm for what I saw Saturday evening. There’s just something inherently unsatisfying about watching your team go 90 minutes without scoring. It leaves you with one of two reactions. At best, you have a feeling of… “m’eh.” At worst, you’re wondering what the hell’s wrong, is this a sign of serious problems with the offense, and is the entire season in danger of collapse. I’m going to try and talk myself off the ledge with those latter thoughts. Which leaves me with… “m’eh.”

2) So let’s talk about the defense, shall we? I can summon some enthusiasm for that. It was another shutout, right? And on the road, no less. Against one of the top scoring teams in the league. Much to be proud of there. Jean-Baptiste and Kah make a very good pairing in the center. I’m really pleased with Kah’s improvement on the whole kicking-people-in-the-face thing. Out on the sides, Harrington had a solid game, defensively, but Cap’n Jack was getting burned a few too many times by that Cruz kid. Should we have switched those two? I’ll let Caleb Porter make those decisions. I mean, we did shut ’em out, so Jack didn’t hurt us too much, right? And he did have that wicked shot on goal. Possibly our most dangerous shot.

3) I think we need a new reality TV show called “Donovan Ricketts versus the World.” I’m not quite sure on the details, but Ricketts would win. Sharks, ninjas, bulldozers, ICBMs. I think Ricketts can take them all. Without looking all that troubled, either. In 2010, when Ricketts was the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, he had a 0.89 goals against average. This year, it’s 0.84. In 2010, he had 11 shutouts in 29 games. This year? 9 shutouts in 19 games. I wish there was a way to figure out how many points he’s been worth this year. He certainly got us our point on Saturday in Philly. From this point forward, I will only refer to him as “The Upgrade.”

4) Our offense.

Ahem… Well… Hmm… What to say? What to say?

I’m sort of hoping some of you readers will have some insight. You’re smarter than me. What’s up with our offense? Has the league figured us out? Is Philly’s defense good? I’m not sure they are. I think we just kind of sucked. Perhaps our only problem is the lack of Rodney Freakin’ Wallace. Perhaps the Ryan Johnson/Freddy Piquionne experiment needs more time to gel. ¿Y donde esta Diego Valeri? I was sort of wanting some magic out of him. Both him and Nagbe. Of course, in Valeri’s defense, if his pretty little turn & shoot had gone in, this would be an entirely different column.

5) Those last five minutes were pretty terrifying, weren’t they? Non-stop chances for Philly. Cross after cross after cross. One corner kick after another. We could never seem to get possession. Last year, we would have given up a goal. This year, our guys summoned the strength to survive and we should applaud that. Also, thank goodness for Mr. Post, right? He’s been rock solid for us this year. Unwavering.

6) So, we got a point on the road. That would be reason for celebration last year, but we’ve changed our expectations, haven’t we? Now we want three points on the road. And, I gotta tell you, we absolutely must get three in San Jose next weekend. Why? Because August is coming and it will be BRUTAL. Here’s the murderer’s row we’ll be seeing next month: Vancouver, Dallas, Salt Lake, then @ Seattle and @ Salt Lake. Oh, and there’s a bye and some mid-week games, so those last four games are all bang-bang-bang within two weeks. My point? Things could get ugly in August. We need three points next week at San Jose. Sharks, ninjas, ICBMs? I don’t care. Bring me three points. Nothing else will do.

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6 thoughts on “Six Degrees: Unbeatable

  1. I was disappointed with Valeri and Nagbe as well. It wasn’t even that Philly defended against them particularly well. They weren’t hacking at them quite as much as expected, especially compared to other recent opponents. I think it’s just that they weren’t playing in the usual positions with their usual pairings. I like Piquionne and Ryan Johnson up top, theoretically, but the poor linkage with the midfield may have something to do with Valeri playing wide and nobody being accustomed to each other’s habits in this new formation. I did see some long balls out of the back though, particularly from Kah, which I think was partially due to offensive tactics and partially due to defensive desperation. So, I think it may come down to the team, not just Piquionne and Ryan Johnson, needing time to gel, at least in this kind of formation. I think Jack getting burned constantly made us a bit more desperate on defense and cautious on the attack too. I’m disappointed as well. Philly’s an alright team and they played relatively fairly. I think we still could have earned three points off them if we’ld had our prefered line-up. I think Ryan Johnson’s going through a bit of dry spell as well. I was just defending our attack on Stumptown Footy but I was also underwheled by this result, and that has a lot to do with how toothless we were.

    1. good points, all. I will give some credit to Philly for those long balls Kah was sending. In the 2nd half, Philly really increased the high pressure on our backs. Kah and Beast and the rest of them didn’t have nearly as much breathing room in the second half. Good on ya, Philly.

      As far as our new offensive formations gelling, that may not be a problem much longer. Costa Rica lost this afternoon, so we should have RFW back for next week’s game. How many goals do you think he’ll score? 2? 3?

      1. Hopefully we’ll see Wallace back on the left, Piquionne up top, and Nagbe on the right, with Valeri back in the middle and Chara & Will in the engine room, assuming Chara isn’t too badly injured. I’d kind of like to see Zemanski at right back again, with Jack as a sub. San Jose seem to get desperate to clog the box, create chaos, and steal points off of corners and free kicks toward the end of a match. I could see Jack’s level head being an asset there, particularly when we might not be as driven to get forward on either wing. Until such point as we need to be more defensive, I’d like to see a faster Z-man forcing whoever they have on the wing to play on their heels. I think Wallace is good for at least one goal and one assist. I know he could get two or three by himself, but he’s pretty generous about letting his teammates get some glory too.

      2. You’re right that Z-man might give us more offense, but I’m really hesitant to mess with that back line. Jack feels like a rock to me. So, you know, when Caleb calls asking for my opinion, I’ll tell him to leave Jack in there.

      3. Yeah, I don’t actually expect that change. My thinking was based on someone else’s suggestion (Chris Gluck?) that Hairington’s pace on the other side may have offset some of Philly’s offensive attack on that side by forcing their LeDouche to play more defensively. In the grand scheme of things, I’d much prefer a more balanced, less predictable, attack from our fullbacks. That means two players of more equal, preferably greater, speed. I don’t want to diminish Jack’s abilities. He gets forward when he can, is a threat from distance, is good at passing, has decent positioning, is calm under pressure, and generally reliable. He’s not as good as it can get though and I’d like to see an upgrade at that position as well.

  2. Good call. I’m really looking forward to this San Jose game, just to see if we get rolling again. They can be an ugly team to play, but we’ve had success against them. I think we will again.

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