26 fouls against. We've again broken our previous record, which was established earlier this season. The previously broken record was established earlier..............this season.
Well, on the plus side, a 2-1 win away will always be welcome in the world of MLS parity. While the outcome was optimal for us, the product on the field wasn't exactly a shining example of the beautiful game. 26 fouls will do that to a game as stopping the game every 3-4 minutes during a game doesn't exactly lend itself to flowing action. It was more akin to teaching someone to drive a stick.
Moving the Posts In: DeAndre Yedlin
After having a look through the comments after the game, there seems to be a split on Yedlin. The argument seems to focus around his role in the team; is he being too offensively focused? Or is that his given role on the team and others are supposed to fill in better than they have been when he moves into the final third? I fall mostly into the first camp, as I appreciate a RB who can join into the attack but isn't leaving his team exposed too often by his offensive escapades.
He's a gifted athlete, of that there is no doubt. He has great potential and room to grow into a well rounded player, which is further supported by his inclusion to the USMNT squad and whispers of a ticket to Brazil.
This is where I want to move the posts in.
Although he has the athleticism, his defensive qualities leave much to be desired and offensively, his soccer IQ and his touch let him down. As a defender, he has a tendency to over commit and good wingers exploit that. Chivas more than once exposed Yedlin being out of position, playing 1-2 passes or chipped in behind to get to the end line and into danger positions on Saturday. Lately he has also taken to being physically aggressive when challenging opponents leaving the team in a dangerous situation due to set piece or (like in FCD last week) a penalty. More than once he was caught out of position in the opponents half waiting for the ball while the team had yet to establish possession to move into attack. It's a good thing Chad Marshall has either been instructed to cover for him or he is experienced enough to know better. Yedlin may be given license to rampage down the right side and contribute offensively, but he doesn't seem to pick his spots as well as he did last year, which may be down to a lack of direction from a senior player (Mauro). When he does make it it forward, many of his efforts in the opponents' half of the field become marred by his lack of touch and poor short passes/interchanging play. In the worst situations, his turnovers result in a counter attack that leaves his position exposed. While this is a normal part of the game, and the midfield should pick up his responsibility, it seems to be an increased strain that is stretching the CDM thin. He has had his shining moments going forward, but I feel that his positional awareness and defensive skill set still need work, and that should come as a priority.
On the offensive side, Yedlin has many parts of his game that need improvement whether it's the crosses being too shallow, a misplaced or heavy pass, or running into a defender and losing the ball. After establishing his defensive prowess, adding in the dynamic pace and movement with refined passing and touch will move him into a starting international RB. For now, he's a league average right back (but admittedly above average offensive ability) with lots of unfulfilled potential.
A caveat to moving Yedlin's posts:
I've gotten the feeling that he's been trying harder this season to be aggressive both offensively and defensively. I'm not sure if this is part of the coaching or self determined style, but he was seemingly steadier last year in defense and less aggressive going forward. If it's the coaching, then he's doing what he's been told and it's hard to fault, but if he's made this on his own directive, it might be good for someone to reign him in a little as his play seems a bit volatile.
Moving the Posts Out: Marco Pappa
Another player that has people on different sides of the fence. It seems that some people just don't see the big deal with Pappa and that his play is a bit slow and he turns the ball over too much. Others see a player with a high soccer IQ whose quality isn't showing and body isn't yet up to the speed of play but is improving. I fall in more with the second camp.
For me, Pappa's skills were evident when he was with Chicago a few years ago scoring goals and taking set pieces. The touch, vision and delivery with the ball are above MLS standard and I don't think the skills have degraded much. He didn't do well for himself on his Sounders debut and paid for it by riding pine for a couple games before becoming a super sub. Since his first game as a sub and upon his start this week, I feel like we are beginning to see him shake the rust off. From his influence on the Portland game, his part of the build up in the game winning goal in Dallas, to his solid outing against Chivas, he has begun to put his stamp on the game.
It is definitely up and down with his game to this point. In the Chivas game he showed some grit and went into the midfield and won a couple balls which turned into some dangerous plays, but he also gave the ball up easily at the half way line that resulted in a shot on goal. I don't know if the inconsistency will be the norm for his play, but if he can keep his head in the game for a full 90 there is no doubt that he is a difference maker. Realistically, I move the posts out as he continues to gain fitness and cohesion within the team (more than once he and Leo were not on the same page against Chivas), I think we will see him influence from the wings even more. I'm hopeful that we see the 90 minute player and he becomes a wing 10 similar to (but not quite) our beloved Mauro was.
In Range: Midfield
Coming into the season, there was a lot of shakeups bringing in a sending out players. After the collapse at the end of last year, it was a welcome change. With all the changes, midfield players were where the largest shakeups to the squad were made. Initial impressions of the names brought in was that there was promise in the players, but no powerhouse world shakers. Pappa would be a strong left footed presence, Bowen had lots of upside, trialists and draft picks brought us Pineda as a CMF and Azira as a CDM. Even Cooper has been slotted in the wings (a la Neagle) from his natural foward position to bring some direct play and Chad Barrett finds himself in a similar (but reduced) role. This is not a midfield that has played much together and has yet to find it's ideal shape (if it ever does), but it's been effective and has allowed us to get the best players on the field, regardless of their natural roles. Pineda through the middle has been a partner that I don't think Ozzie has ever found himself with before. Their interchange play and forward passing has been a strong plus to the team but there is still refinement there are defensive holes have been exploited. On the wings, Pappa has begun to find his way back into MLS play and Neagle has been solid. Cooper has found the back of the net a couple times and has had influence on other goals. Chad Barrett has a goal and an assist to win 2 games in very limited minutes. On the whole, I think this midfield is finding it's way, but I don't expect that they become quite the powerhouse midfield we had a few years ago that had to carry the team, nor do they need to be with Oba and Dempsey leading the charge. Overall, I expect more of the same. A solid core with Ozzie/Pineda with Evans or Rose filling in if/when fatigue or injury occur, and on the wings a mix of Pappa/Neagle/Cooper (hopefully Bowen at some point) with Evans filling in where needed depending on the game.
From the Half Way Line: Mauro and the future of Chivas de USA
It was nice to see Mauro continue to show well for himself. He had the same touch and class that we were able to enjoy over the last few years, and even a strong strike on goal that (happily) Frei had to push away. I admired the game he played while he was here and I hope he has just enough success with Chivas to merit a few more years on a DP contract. He deserves it, even if it's something we can't provide him with. The rest of Chivas, they can fall into the Pacific for all I care with their stupid hair/robot/fouls. Which they will will essentially do next season. It is quite intriguing to see how MLS handles the sale and supposed retention of the team in LA with a new stadium. It doesn't seem reasonable that they would be able to sell the team within a year with those stipulations, but then there could be suitors that have been lining up for some time that I would have no clue about. It just seems that there are many qualified cities without an MLS team where they could be relocated to, but they're steadfast in copying the other US models of having multiple teams in LA/NY for some reason. But after our last couple meetings this season, adieu Chivas USA.