Armchair Analyst: On gravitational pull, a legend in his last days and other Week 21 thoughts

The Silly Season is just about done, which means there should be a few new faces joining MLS in the next couple of days. Jermaine Jones to Chicago should be the big one (that's gonna get done, right?) but there's also something brewing in Crewland, while LA obviously had something in mind when they gave away Kofi Opare for D.C.'s No. 3 spot in the allocation order.

There's also Vancouver linked to a Costa Rican international defender, Brazilians in Orlando (but not in New York), and the "will he, won't he" saga that is Carlos Valdes' return to Philly.

'Sup:

That's 85 minutes in after 40 minutes of 10-v-11 soccer. Henry had spent the better part of the game at that point as a one-man outlet, constantly holding the ball up against multiple defenders. He spent his last 10 minutes as a one-man high press, refusing to let the Revs build anything easy or wear down the New York midfield. He is a boss.

When he's gone, please remember him for the ridiculous goals, and even more ridiculous passes. But also remember that even after 20 years of greatness, after winning a World Cup and a Eurpean Championship and a Champions League and going unbeaten in the EPL, Henry still cared enough to run his tail off 85 minutes into a midsummer grinder against the Revs.


3. Rotating Back to Consistency

True story: Jason Saghini and I have a friendly wager about where the Rapids and Chivas TBA will finish in the standings. I took the Goats and some pretty good odds.

I tell you this to give some perspective on just how low my expectations were for the Rapids this year, and to praise rookie head coach Pablo Mastroeni. He's pulled a lot of the right levers, trusted a bunch of kids, gotten the developmental curve right with his second-year players (which is incredibly hard, as the 2012 rookie class can tell you), and generally been tactically flexible.

Now he's left himself with two big jobs as the playoffs come into sight and Colorado start to dance with the red line: get his team healthy, then figure out the Best Xi to put out there. It's great that the Rapids go 22ish deep – and it's proved necessary given the surfeit of injuries currently annihilating the squad – but a squad's first XI needs to work together during the regular season in order to stand a chance against the truly elite clubs in the postseason.

The big issue for Colorado at the moment is backline cohesion. They were ripped apart midweek in a 3-0 loss against the Revs, as a New England team that hadn't held a lead in two months put together a series of beautiful, flowing attacks:

You can see the problem on that goal – as one defender stepped up into the play, there was no rotation to help fill the gap he left. This same thing happened again in the weekend's 1-0 loss to RSL:

As the play unfolds down RSL's left-hand side, the Rapids are agonizingly slow to recognize danger and don't defend in pairs. It's a series of 1-v-1 duels that the visitors win.

This is a big, red warning sign for a Colorado team that's won only twice in their last nine and are below the red line on points per game. They need some consistency in their lineup and tactical approach to develop consistency in how they execute. Without it, they'll be watching November happen from home.


A few more things to ponder...

9. I was missing 2013, so it was nice of D.C. United to give us a little reprise at the end of their 1-0 loss at Houston. (watch HERE). That's a clip in dire need of "Yakety Sax," though it shouldn't obscure just how dominant United were in midweek's 3-0 win over TFC.

8. Speaking of TFC, their fanbase had a truly bi-polar week that largely revolved around the play of Michael Bradley. He hit two passes like this against D.C.:

But because his teammates didn't finish, that clearly meant Bradley's a bum. OK...

7. Bradley "redeemed" himself with a Man of the Match performance in Saturday's 2-0 win over Montreal, which included our Pass of the Week:

Luke Moore eventually finished that one, though Bradley didn't earn an assist – which is yet another reminder that assists are a noisy and pretty unreliable metric for creative prowess.

6. The no-Bash Bros. experiment continues in San Jose, and thanks to a 1-0 win over Seattle it's looking pretty good (though killjoy Jon Busch says "slow down!").

The game's only goal (watch HERE) is a great example of using movement to create favorable individual matchups. When Chris Wondolowski drops deep he brings Jalil Anibaba with him (gravitational pull), which leaves Yannick Djalo isolated against Zach Scott and with plenty of space to run into thanks to Seattle's high line.

Game, set and match.

5. Not much to say about the Chicago Fire, who picked up two more draws this week – scoreless against the Whitecaps midweek, then 1-1 at the weekend against the Crew. They now have 13 ties on the year, well within striking distance of the single-season record of 16 which the Fire themselves set back in 2010.

Best thing to come from the two games was a Mike Magee PK and this Face of the Week:

4. I wrote a bit about the LA Galaxy's 3-1 win over Portland on Saturday. The Timbers are actually 6-4-4 over their last 14 – which is top five in the league – and they always give LA fits, so that win was a very, very good one for the hosts.

3. The only team I've written about more than the Timbers or Galaxy is the Philadelphia Union, who went on the road to get a tremendous point at Sporting KC thanks to a 1-1 draw on Friday night.

They earned that point despite holding just more than 30 percent of the possession, which means they're defending a ton. I feel like that's all the argument I need to make for keeping Maurice Edu back in central defense even when Valdes arrives and Rais Mbolhi is ready to go.

Philly can worry about possession and keeping the ball in 2015. The rest of 2014 is going to be about creating a killer central defensive unit that can give everyone else the freedom and confidence to go forward on the counter.

2. I've written a lot recently in praise of San Jose's move away from playing a true target forward – which, as I pointed out above, has worked. But that doesn't mean I'm against playing a true No. 9.

Blas Perez gives FC Dallas opponents a reminder of how dangerous an elite target forward can be just about every week. He was instrumental in the only goal of FCD's 1-0 win at Chivas on Sunday, and is guaranteed to be overlooked given the form of rookie strike-partner Tesho Akindele.

1. Finally, a big congrats to Nick Rimando, who earned his 112th MLS shutout in that win over Colorado to tie him atop the all-time list with Kevin Hartman. This is your friendly reminder that he's somehow never won Goalkeeper of the Year.

Series: 

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