5-0. It's not a score that can easily be digested, broken down, or understood in the game of soccer. So many things can go into any single goal that when there are this many, the actions and people to cheer or jeer becomes too many.
I'm not sure the defense played as bad as the score line reflects. I'm not sure what to attribute 0 goals and sixty or so percent possession, a lead in shots, twice as many corner kicks. The list goes on. The numbers will never play out to support the result. Nothing could have indicated this result was coming and nothing in the game supports the way in played out except the score line.
It hurts, but the medicine is down so it's time to move forward. Let's see what expectations the game has given us to adjust.
Moving the Posts In: Small Ball
There was a bit of a revelation from the Revolution in defending the Sounders: clog the middle. It sounds elementary, even a little stupid, but it seems to have worked. Dempsey and Martins play through the middle to each other and tie in with Pappa and Neagle but it always seems to happen in the middle third of the final third. New England seems to have noticed this and packed 4 players in the D on top of the box whenever Seattle had the ball. My guess is they were comfortable with this knowing that our service from wide areas hasn't resulted in any majority of our goals this season.
I love watching intricate, interchanging play and we've had our fill this year, but it's much like Arsenal - it's pretty when it works, but it's infuriating when players are looking for that perfect pass instead of just crossing or taking the shot to test the keeper and keep the defense honest. I found myself with those sentiments exactly, watching Oba, Pappa and Neagle all holding the ball at separate times looking for the run from a teammate, only to lose the ball to an interception or playing a guy into too tight of a space. There needs to be a balance between direct and finesse, that was sorely lacking (except for Dempsey from 30+ yards out a couple times).
I can only attribute the poor short play to a lack of sharpness, and to add to that conjecture, the lack of sharpness could be attributed to fatigue of 3 games in 8 days. It's a weak excuse, but an excuse none the less. There wasn't anything glaringly off, just people not finding each other by a foot or two or taking a beat too long to make a decision. Hopefully we don't have those issues to deal with after a deserved rest.
Moving the Posts Out: Pulling the Trigger
Not in a morbid way, we're only a third of the way through the season. It's all about taking the shots on goal when presented.
Too many times we saw players hesitating a half second in order to pick out a teammate and find that clever pass. As nice as that style of play is to watch, it can become predictable if you're not mixing shots in. The defender knows you're not going to shoot and will close you down to stop the pass or wait for you to hesitate and close you down to tackle. Oba was probably the party most guilty of this (let's be honest, it was never Dempsey we were going to accuse of this). His posession play is great but slightly predictable if he's not taking shots to keep defenders and 'keepers honest.
A slight turn of the knob towards direct play to include a few more shots will help open up the short play they've thrived on this year.
In Range: Chad Barrett
I can't tell you how unhappy I was when they signed this guy. Any and all recollections of his play is negative. First playing for the Galaxy. Second, being a winger in LA not named Donovan or Beckham. I couldn't think of a single good thing I had seen the guy do ever.
I've not been so glad to be so ignorant to something before.
Ever since he's donned the rave green, he's become a great spark off of the bench to create opportunities or put away his half chance against KC in the opener. In the NE game, he was one of the few bright spots in the second half playing almost as direct as Dempsey which is exactly what that game needed.
That all seems like it should be moving the posts out, but I feel like it's really just me that felt so negatively on the signing and a bit of anti Galaxy prejudice probably influenced my viewpoint. I wouldn't assume the rest of you to be as closed minded. There is a reason that LA kept him around so long and he's decided to share a little bit of that with us in the PNW.
From the Half Way Line: USMNT 30
Here is it. A month until the World Cup. The loveable underdogs that is the USMNT will take to the field in beautiful Brazil. With the last 30 or so days, we have 30 players to whittle down to 23.
I don't know where to begin, and I certainly won't break down 30 separate players, so let's just go with impressions:
Klinsy is bringing the young'uns. No Eddie Johnson who helped the US qualify, no Brek Shea and his blistering speed, no Sachs Kljestan to bring the Champions League experience. Julian Green and DeAndre Yedlin take some of those slots, and while I expect the two are on the short list of being left stateside, the fact that established members weren't even given a shot to fight for their spots tells me that he already has a team in mind for Brazil and an eye towards the next WC. Which is kind of nice actually.
If he has a team in mind, who are the 11 charged with getting us past Nigeria, Germany and Portugal? Of course there are a couple in flux over the next 30 days, but It seems that we have a pair of Sounders who will take up 2 of those spots in Dempsey and Evans. I have to believe that Altidore is a shoe in and Michael Bradley is a lock. Out of the back I'm confident in making the call of Howard between the sticks and it seems that González is half of a starting CB pairing.
From there, the road gets a bit rockier. Who is a lock for Leftback? Beasley? I could see it, but he missed the last qualifier. Who makes Omar González whole? Through the middle, will the Fabian Johnson/Bradley pairing be the solution, or the problem it was? Does that mean that Beckerman is the better option even if he isn't the better player? Who plays the wings? Donovan is admitting he is old. Zusi is the natural option there, but not necessarily a lock since Donovan seems to turn it on in the Red White and Blue. Off the left side is it Bedoya or Corona? Neither absolutely locked the position as theirs. There's always Brad David and his amazing delivery, but he isn't quite as dynamic and fluid. Or is it Mix? He lacks the defensive discipline but absolutely brings the skills around the box.
It's going to be a stressful (but fun, mostly) 30 days.