By Tony Edwards - San Jose, CA (May 22, 2012) US Soccer Players -- In Tuesday's column, Tony asks if a former National Team player could be in the running for coach of the year in MLS, questions the Sunday schedule, and uses stats to wonder what's really going on with Toronto's attack.
Which US National Team alum is going to win MLS Coach of the Year this season?
It's only a third of the season in, so take the question with a grain of salt. DC's Ben Olsen and New England's Jay Heaps have their teams in playoff positions in late May deserves some attention. Neither team is exactly easy on the eyes and they benefit from playing in the Eastern Conference, but those caveats shouldn't downplay doing what's required to turn a struggling team into a contender.
While we all understand there is a contract involved, who is watching MLS games on Sundays at 7pm Eastern time?
On Mother's Day it was San Jose-Chivas, in a game that drew a little more than 8,000 to Buck Shaw stadium (the Quakes' poorest attended game all season). This past weekend it was Portland-Chicago (which drew more than 20K to the stadium), but that match-up was not exactly a draw for the neutrals. While the League doesn't want ESPN/NBC Sports Channel/Galavision directly competing with each other, 17 years in, the League still hasn't figured out Saturday needs to be established as game day on television.
What was unusual about Toronto's loss at RFK on Saturday night?
Often, the team that is behind will have more possession, as they seek to equalize. Not Toronto, who only had a little more than 41% of possession. and for their 19 shots, to DC United's 9, only four were on target, compared to United's six, three of which went in. To highlight Toronto's problem, a just-returning Danny Koevermans (who scored their goal), only touched the ball 21 times in his 45 minutes on the field, and only 10 of those touches would be considered productive. This is not to implicate Koevermans, but rather what Toronto labels as their 'attack,' which combined for less than 300 completed passes, with an accuracy of less than 70%. Toronto has only scored 7 times in League games this season.
Toronto is still only 13 points out of the playoffs.
Which team has the worst goal difference in the Western Conference?
Surprisingly, FC Dallas at -7. Widely considered (including by me) a potential Western Conference winner, they've struggled to put a consistent 90 minutes together. Dallas has a solid record at home (3-2-3) but are still seeking their first win on the road (0-4-1). Only taking two points out of their last five games doesn't help.
Admittedly, you look at the line-up Schellas Hyndmann ran out on Saturday, and it's hardly first choice. Yet at this point of the season, every team is struggling with injuries, call-ups, and the like. Having played more than a third of its schedule, Dallas needs more than the return of Brek Shea and David Ferreira to make a difference.
With Steven Beitashour of San Jose showing up among the assist leaders, which defender has the most assists, all-time, in MLS?
Diego Gutierrez with 44 in 276 games, followed not too closely by Jay Heaps (34 in 314 games). Did you know both of them have more assists than David Beckham (33 in 88 games) in MLS?
Gutierrez played more than 22,000 minutes in MLS from 1996 through 2008, with Kansas City and Chicago. In the 2000 season, playing for the Fire, Gutierrez had 13 assists. So how does a defender end up with that many assists? Easy, he spends time as a midfielder.
Bob Bradley was using what we'll call a flexible 3-5-2 at the time and had no problem putting defenders in midfield and vice-versa. Lubos Kubik pushed up on occasion as well. As some have recently written, roster's weren't as deep and teams weren't so savvy or organized back then but the '00 Fire went 17-9-6 that season with an astounding 67 goals in 32 games.