There’s a lot that goes into being a captain, and each of the 19 in Major League Soccer approach it in a different way. From Shalrie Joseph’s ever-present chatter to Davy Arnaud’s work ethic, our new series “Taking the Lead” provides an in-depth look at what leadership means to those wearing the armband, as told in their own voices. The series debuts Wednesday, April 18 with Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman.
With wins over Columbus, Philadelphia and Chicago in 3 of their first 4 games to start the 2012 MLS Season, Colorado seemed to be moving in the right direction. Unfortunately, that all came to a halt this past weekend when RSL ran rampant in the second half, possibly in part to a makeshift formation.
Drew Moor played midfield for the first time since I don’t know when and Tyrone Marshall filled in as if everything was just fine and dandy. Moor played alright – with 87 touches (second most among all players), winning nine of his 13 duels and completing 44 of 59 passes (75 percent). All in all, he was quite active.
Now let’s dig a little deeper and examine some graphics produced by the Opta Chalkboards that show Moor’s presence (in the defensive third), in every game so far this season. Let’s select clearances, blocks and interceptions by Moor in Colorado’s first five games and what Marshall did when he filled in vs RSL.
You can see what Marshall did – or didn’t do – against RSL (he has #34 inside his circles), but can you pick the corresponding image for Moor in that game as well?
If you haven’t guessed which graphic represents Moor’s production from the Real Salt Lake game, it’s the top right. Marshall’s clearances, blocks and interceptions vs RSL are shown in the bottom right image.
Put together the images from both players’ vs RSL and it still doesn’t equal the defensive production Drew Moor has had in any previous game this season. Colorado has to make adjustments soon because Moor’s absence on the backline could prove to be quite costly over time.
(Image below) CBAI’s for Zapata, Marshall, Wynne and Kimura vs RSL
Playing Together? – Larentowicz and Moor’s Positioning vs RSL
As seen in the graphic below, Colorado lined up in a 4-5-1 formation with Drew Moor and Jeff Larentowicz playing as duel holding midfielders.
If this was the plan from Head Coach Oscar Pareja, everything went awry. After playing around with the Opta Chalkboards, you can see that Larentowicz and Moor played much different roles. The image below shows all passes completed by the two midfielders from box-to-box – Larentowicz on the left and Moor on the right.
Larentowicz seemed to play his normal role regardless, but Moor acted as if he was told to play right mid. How do players – that start the game in similar positions – end up with completely different outcomes?
These days, 5-3-2 is usually seen as a sign of respect when facing an opponent far superior in strength (e.g., anyone vs. Barcelona).
But to win in Fantasy Soccer: Manager, perhaps it's best to think that you are playing Messi & Co. each week. The FS:M Dream Team has lined up with five defenders four out of five weeks thus far. Ironically, this formation is producing more points for teams than the 4-3-3 and 3-4-3. I myself have been lined up mostly in a 3-4-3 thinking that midfielders and forwards would get me the most points. Fail.
Player HAWAIIFAN13 proved the benefits of the 5-3-2. In Week 5, he rode the formation to 106 points, the second highest score recorded by a team this year.
So what does this mean for the rest of the 2012? Do the stats suggest taking a completely different approach and start dumping midfielders (and even forwards) for defenders? You be the judge.
Players averaging 5.0 points or more per game (by position)
Defenders – 27
Goalkeepers – 12
Midfielders – 10
Forwards – 8
The numbers above should make your decision a little easier. At this point in the season, there is more security in starting defenders than there is at any other position. Honestly, it’s not even close. Forwards and midfielders can be a huge investment, and so far, most of them aren’t living up to the asking price.
Need help with your squad? Tweet your MLS Fantasy Soccer questions to @Ben_Jata
New England Revoltion derrotó como visitante al flamante campeón de la MLS, LA Galaxy. San José hizo lo mismo en Seattle. Vancouver Whitecaps sigue invicto y no ha recibido un gol en contra hasta ahora… esta temporada ha sido simplemente impredecible.
Aun así, vamos a tratar.
A partir de la esta Jornada 5, el grupo de Tiro Libre: Kristel Valencia, el Gringo Simon Borg, nuestro productor (e incansable fan del Arsenal FC) Carlos Rodriguez, y yo ofreceremos nuestras predicciones de los partidos a jugarse cada fecha.
Tendremos aciertos y tendremos fallas, pero los invitamos a que nos acompañen en esta travesía y nos den sus predicciones cada semana por este medio o por Twitter en @FutbolMLS.
¿Quién será el Walter Mercado del fútbol?
El Gringo Simon
Esta semana tuvimos el placer de hablar con dos expertos volantes de la MLS, el hondureño Roger Espinoza de Sporting Kansas City y el colombiano Jaime Castrillón de Colorado Rapids. Es por ellos que decidimos titular el show de esta semana “Guerreros del mediocampo” porque la verdad, lo son.
Sin embargo, la charla con estos dos jugadores me dejó pensando; si tuviera la oportunidad, ¿A quien de los dos erigiría en mi equipo?
Ambos han sido seleccionados por sus países a su selección nacional, pero mientras que uno tiene más visión, el otro es más defensivo. Eso si, creo que ambos en el mismo equipo sería de ensueño. Es una pregunta valida si se toma en cuenta que ambos están triunfando de manera similar en este inicio de temporada.
Entonces, ¿Qué piensan? ¿el catracho o el cafetero?
Last year, before the season started, I very cleverly predicted that LA would win the West, the Shield and the Cup. I predicted that Houston would win the East. And I came up with a few other good ones that panned out.
Unfortunately I made these predictions on Twitter, and 4000 posts later, I was no longer able to have my moment of glory. Not gonna make the same mistake this year.
Real Salt Lake
US Open Cup
Defender of the Year
Rookie of the Year
Coach of the Year
And the most important question... will another forward come out of the blue and rack up double-digit goals? Wondolowski and Dom Oduro have done so in the last two seasons. This year's version will be... Tommy "Disco" Heinemann.
Feel free to bookmark this and throw it in my face 9 months from now.
Cheers, and enjoy the soccer.
Former Colorado Rapids striker Caleb Folan left Dick's Sporting Goods Park at the start of February. Let's just say it didn't take him long to find a new club.
English Championship side Birmingham City announced Wednesday that free agent Folan has signed until the end of the season in an effort to make sure their stay in the the second-tier lasts just one season.
The 29-year-old Folan has been training with the Blues since his return to English soil and impressed manager Chris Hughton enough to be offered a short-term deal.
During his injury-hit time with the Rapids, the Republic of Ireland international and former Hull City striker played 26 times, scoring six in the process.
The languid target forward will help Birmingham in their quest to spring straight back to the EPL, as they currently occupy fifth place and a playoff spot, just seven points from the automatic promotion places.
Folan is following closely in the footsteps of former Rapids manager Gary Smith in swapping Colorado for the English lower divisions. Smith took over the reigns at Stevenage FC in January and his enjoyed relative success with the transition from MLS to England already.
His League One side held Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur to a 0-0 draw in the FA Cup Fifth round and they sit in the playoff spots in England’s third tier.
A little more than a year after taking the seventh-seeded Colorado Rapids to an unlikely MLS Cup victory, Gary Smith is working knockout wonders again on the other side of the Atlantic.
Smith and his new side, League One club Stevenage Borough, held Premiership visitors Tottenham to a scoreless draw on Sunday in FA Cup action, setting up a winner-take-all replay at White Hart Lane. Tim Ream and Bolton await the winner of that game. One in which Smith and Stevenage, emboldened by what was a very competent performance against Spurs, hope to push what could be a distracted Tottenham side to the limit.
“It’s quite incredible and we’ve got every chance,” Smith told ITV following the match. “They’ve got Arsenal and Manchester United soon and we might be sandwiched between them and we’ll go there with belief."
If they do manage to pull off a shock result and write their names into FA Cap lore, it will be because they managed to slow down the likes of Gareth Bale, Louie Saha and Jermain Defoe, something Smith was keenly aware of following the match.
"I thought today we prevented a tremendous Tottenham side from creating more than they are probably capable of," he told Sky Sports. "There was just a bundle of energy about the team.I thought that when that intensity dropped towards the end of both halves, the players' ideas and organisational skills to keep some very talented individuals at bay was fantastic."
Of course, Stevenage and their recently hired manager – Smith joined the cause on January 25 in a move club chairman Phil Wallace called a "different approach" – will have a much harder time containing Spurs in London, but it's still nice to see a former MLS headman giving an EPL title contender at least a temporary headache.
Added note from Yanks Abroad's Brian Sciaretta:
@jonahfreedman great story. It's also worth mentioning an American played for Stevenage in the game vs Spurs. (NYC-born Don Cowan)
— Brian Sciaretta (@briansciaretta) February 19, 2012
Well, well, well. Look who's coming back to where it all started.
Eddie Johnson, the former Wizard and 2006 World Cup veteran (not to be confused with the oft-injured Timbers forward of the same name), has signed a new deal to return to MLS.
Now let's be honest: we've heard this before. But something tells me that there will be no backing out this time. Johnson's career has been in a bit of a rut since he scored 5 goals in 16 appearances for Greek side Aris F.C. Since then he's weathered a goal-less loan to Preston North End and suffered the ignominy of being let go by Puebla just days after signing with the club. If he's ever going to come back, if he's ever needed to prove himself, the time is now.
Currently, the Impact sit at the top of the allocation order and with the recent departure of Brian Ching they may actually be interested in Johnson. The question is which Johnson they --or another club-- will get: the confident speedster of his MLS glory days or the less sure, less motivated player he was in Europe & Mexico?
UPDATE: Montreal, not Colorado as originally stated in this post, sit atop the allocation order. Colorado is rumored to be one of the clubs interested in acquiring Johnson.