By Tony Edwards - San Jose, CA (Aug 20, 2013) US Soccer Players - In Tuesday’s column, Tony wonders when Kansas City is going to win in San Jose, wonders what difference the Premier League broadcaster really makes in the United States, and asks which MLS teams have given up the most goals over the last six games.
What are two of the oddest streaks in Major League Soccer?
How about that Kansas City hasn’t won in 16 games in San Jose after losing 1-0 on Sunday night and the Red Bulls’ ongoing streak of no wins in New England since 2002. Thankfully, Sunday night’s San Jose-KC game wasn’t on national television or available as a free stream, as it was another game this weekend that was for the completists only (see also New York versus Philadelphia).
Both sides struggled to complete passes (neither team completed 75% of their passes) and even early in the game yellow cards to Kansas City’s Chance Myers and Aurilien Collin failed to deter the physical play, where breaking up the passing lanes was more important than completing passes and getting into attacking positions.
What’s one of the more enjoyable aspects of the no-nonsense “match” reports on Whoscored.com?
Take this assessment of Chicago’s play from Saturday night’s game at New England. “Team showed no significant strengths.” The report went on to say that the Fire, “were aggressive;” “were poor at finishing;” and “lost possession often.” Looking at the player positions, under positional report, you see how far from the New England 18-yard box the Chicago forwards were forced to play, as compared with US National Team player Juan Agudelo, whose position was very close to the ‘D’ of the box.
Did NBC Sports’ coverage of the Premier League live up to the hype?
Taxis in Manhattan in EPL team colors. Gareth Bale on a billboard. Manchester United on NBC.
For all that, the first weekend was just much more of the same, and nothing that Fox Soccer or ESPN hasn’t done for years.
Look, if Comcast wants to spend $280+M over three years to show EPL games, fine. But, in 2013, sending Joe Posnanski to London to give us the ‘inside dope’ on the EPL and having Kyle Martino explain to us about the ‘passion’ of the Premier League in a preseason special is nothing we haven’t seen before. It’s not original, it’s not interesting, and it’s not done particularly well. For all of the NBC-Comcast commitment, the sponsors seemed awfully familiar if you watched the EPL in the Fox Soccer era, suggesting, at least initially, that the advertising community is taking a wait-and-see approach.
It’s one weekend. The first weekend. Things will no doubt evolve and hopefully improve. Still, for EuroBall (or EPLBall) to justify the investment, NBC has to expand the existing audience that Fox and ESPN already built. This isn't a situation of taking the Premier League from obscurity to the equivalent of prime time on a major network.
Over the last six games, which teams in MLS have given up the most goals?
This one surprised me. In their last six games, Salt Lake has given up 12 goals, tied with Dallas for the most in the league over that stretch. What is interesting is how inconsistent Salt Lake has been, twice giving up four goals over this period, and twice recording shutouts.
Colorado and Houston have the best goal difference over the last six games (+5), with Houston taking 13 points from their last six games. San Jose and Colorado have each taken 12 points in their last six.
Dallas has two points from their last six games, which are three fewer than Chivas USA has taken.
MLSsoccer.com recently did a subjective listing of the ten best players in league history, how many players who played in the previous century made the list?
Let’s give them some credit, as only Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane debuted in this century. And for a league that too often wants you to believe it started when you became a fan, remembering Carlos Valderrama, Eddie Pope, Chris Armas, and the like is important. How Jeff Agoos isn’t on that list is beyond me, or does five MLS Cups not count?
But I bring this up for another reason. For all the bleating of how the quality of play has never been higher in the league—that’s not the case. There are some amazing players in MLS I feel fortunate to watch every week, but there’s no team anyone has to watch.
Overall, the quality of play is starting to improve, but we have no teams like Bob Bradley’s Chicago Fire (they played with a sweeper in a 3-5-2) or Frank Yallop’s first San Jose teams or even Bob Gansler’s Kansas City in 2000. Instead, we have a pressing, physical 4-3-3 being treated as innovative and teams whose game plan seems to be long, aimless balls from the back towards a target forward. This isn’t advancing the league. What’s needed are teams willing to put a system into play and really trust their development program.
Tony Edwards is a soccer writer from the Bay Area.