12 April 4:57 pm

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?

12 April 2:25 pm

Avec sept points sur quinze (pris lors de ses trois rencontres à domicile), on ne peut pas dire que Dallas a raté son début de saison. Pourtant, trois joueurs dont on attendait une importante contribution sont restés muets jusqu’à présent.

De retour d’une saison blanche, le joueur désigné David Ferreira est à nouveau blessé. Quant au duo composé de Brek Shea et Andrew Jacobson - respectivement meilleur buteur et meilleur donneur de passes décisives du club en 2011 - il n’a été impliqué dans aucun but.

Shea, troisième au palmarès du Joueur de l’année 2011, a été absent durant la campagne américaine ratée des éliminatoires des JO 2012. Mais le milieu gauche s’est réveillé lors du dernier quart d’heure contre New England.

Le cas Jacobson est plus compliqué : délaissé l’an dernier après un début de campagne pourtant tonitruant, il n’a encore manqué aucune minute de jeu cette saison, ce qui n’empêche pas son entraîneur de déplorer son manque de régularité. Cet ancien joueur de Lorient, à la fois technique (il a participé à la Coupe du monde de futsal 2008) et athlétique, a été mis à plusieurs sauces depuis le début de l’année.

Shea et Jacobson comptent rapidement à nouveau se faire remarquer par autre chose que leur coupe de cheveux, et prêter main forte à Blas Pérez, principale force offensive de Dallas cette saison, et Jackson, que le club vient de rappeler de Cruzeiro.

12 April 12:34 pm

They are the type of things you find out after a player retires.

RSL head scout Andy Williams and team broadcaster Brian Dunseth went to their local Salt Lake CW studios to participate in a discussion about the sexes. In the process, they revealed personal details about relationships that not even their former teammates probably know.

First Dunseth: He's a cuddler, his wife delivered a child without pain medication and he thinks it's excessive to see certain intimacy in public like people "draped around their loved ones like a backpack."

Meanwhile, Williams is not scared of kissing in public. Find out more below:

12 April 12:10 pm

In case you missed it, filmmaker Spike Lee made a recent visit to Red Bull Arena to visit his good friend and New York Knicks sideline seat buddy Thierry Henry (see the video below).

But Mr. New York himself decides to show up in his Arsenal jersey. Here's hoping that Henry has it in his heart to gift him a signed Red Bulls jersey or two.

11 April 8:07 pm

Add Thomas Delaney to the US national team watch list.

He's 20 years old and already has the UEFA Champions League experience, which USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann has issued as a priority for American players.

More importantly, the FC Copenhagen midfielder is eligible for a US national team switch and had a conversation with US Olympic Team coach Caleb Porter. He says that he could entertain it if things don't work out with the national team of Denmark.

Read more about him in this article.

11 April 7:27 pm

US men's national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann may not have delved too deeply into the Olympic team's issues during CONCACAF qualifying, but one former US World Cup player did not shy away from the topic.

Former Chivas USA and USMNT midfielder John O'Brien, who played in a 4-3-3 formation during his time in the Netherlands, noticed problems with the tactics that Caleb Porter's Olympic team employed against El Salvador in the match in which they suffered humiliating elimination.

“You know in a 4-3-3 you’ll have a lot of players in front of the ball, and I noticed that they lost the ball easy and didn’t have guys in the right spaces,” O’Brien told Soccer America. “When they scored the equalizer, for a team that needs a result at that moment, we were very exposed. There weren’t many people behind the ball.”

O'Brien makes interesting points in the article, which continue to fuel the debate as to whether the 4-3-3 was to blame for the ouster.

11 April 6:17 pm

The latest list released by fashion magazine Cosmpolitan is sure to cause banter, discussion and laughs in MLS locker rooms across the country.

“Hottest Major League Soccer Players,” is a photo gallery Cosmo has put together, showcasing the 19 sexiest players to grace MLS.

Click here to check out the full gallery

There are sure to be a few MLSers flicking through this gallery hoping to see themselves, but they are sure to be sorely disappointed as only one player from each club was selected.

Household name David Beckham makes the list, (I can already hear the ladies sighing and saying, “Obviously”) but other players looking suave and seductive include the chiseled Chris Wondolowski, Stephen Keel with his endless golden locks, and Montreal rookie Andrew Wenger sporting a textbook smile with a slicked-back hair style.

The photo captions alone are worth checking out. This gem about David Estrada may be the pick of the bunch:

“If recent games are any indication, this Seattle Sounders forward really knows how to score.”

11 April 12:06 pm

Si vous souhaitez voir toutes les vedettes de MLS réunies sur le même terrain, vous en aurez l’occasion le 25 juillet prochain à Philadelphie, à l’occasion du « All-Star game » de la MLS (appelé « Match des étoiles » au Québec).

Les meilleurs joueurs de la compétition seront réunis dans une équipe dirigée par Peter Nowak, l’entraîneur de Philadelphie, et affronteront Chelsea. C’est la deuxième fois que les Londoniens participent à cet événement. La première fois, en 2006, ils avaient été battus 1-0 sur un but de Dwayne De Rosario. Fait amusant, cette année-là Peter Nowak (alors entraîneur de DC United) dirigeait aussi la formation représentant la MLS.

Bien entendu, il n’y aura pas de place pour tout le monde dans l’équipe. Quels sont les joueurs que vous souhaiteriez voir sélectionnés par Peter Nowak ? Ceux de votre club préféré ? Ceux que vous n’avez jamais l’occasion de voir au stade ?

Et si un joueur de Chelsea ne prenait pas l’avion du retour pour se joindre à votre équipe favorite en tant que joueur désigné, qui voudriez-vous que ce soit ?

10 April 5:59 pm

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

10 April 1:23 pm

As mentioned on an ExtraTime Radio mailbag a week back, Egypt could be one of the new hotbeds of MLS talent since the league is in crisis right now.

And it turns out that Erik Solér may have been listening. Reports out of Egypt are saying that the Red Bulls have signed goalkeeper El-Hany Soliman.

But, well, not so fast. RBNY beat writer extraordinaire Brian Lewis of the New York Post says let's hold our horses a bit.

The 27-year-old Soliman has manned the nets 24 times for the Egyptian national team (currently managed by former New York coach Bob Bradley) and has spent his entire eight-year pro career with Union Alexandria. He'd be brought in presumably to wear the No. 1 shirt ahead of Ryan Meara, who's impressed five games into his rookie season.