To me, the Chicago game was akin to a old samurai flick - the good guys won, but not without losing some of their own along the way.
The game was not the prettiest to watch from either side, but one side was definitely more Bloodsport than Yojimbo. I wanted Samurai Champloo.
Really, I chalk the game up to a referee allowing an older style of MLS play that is overly physical and doesn't allow for soccer to be played. Add to that inconsistent calls and you have a recipe for a game straight out of 2009. The red cards were red cards (if Oba really did punch someone, even on accident), but it shouldn't have been allowed to get to that point. Yes he gave Hurtado a yellow, but I believe the game should have been called stricter before it got out of hand. That, and they shouldn't let Yallop coach teams anymore. San Jose was just a gem when he was around, and now he's adding his polish to a Chicago team that ended up being pretty entertaining last year.
Moving the Posts In: Multiple Competitions
MLS is on a break, Open Cup is starting up. To some extent it's a good thing we're not in Champions League this year as I don't think we have the depth for it. We're down to our 2 backup CBs playing somewhat regularly. Our RB and LB situation is tight. Our CMs have played every game they've been available for in the last 2 months. I just don't know where the legs are going to come from unless some of our reserve players begin to step the game up. Chad Barrett will come good during the Ope Cup, but who will the wingers be? Okoli hopefully gets some good experience down in California. We have Estrada who came back from loan. The thing is, these are not names I get terribly excited about once we start getting into the later rounds of the Open Cup and MLS play resumes towards the end of the season, and I'm worried that we're going to have to either lose some effectiveness in league play to rest players for Open Cup, or chance using more of our reserve in the Cup and risk not making the finals (just like every other MLS team has done over the last decade).
We've managed in the past, so it's not impossible, but I've contemplated moving the posts in on our depth before just in league play. Having two competitions concurrently will definitely leave us with some tough decisions to make, and with our form in league I'd really be uncomfortable taking our foot off the pedal, but I also want OC success and Champions League next year.
Rock and a hard place.
Moving the Posts Out: Winning ugly
There isn't much to say on this when it comes to tactics or breaking down plays, but you can take from it the fact that teams who can win, no matter if it's ugly or not, make it far.
Taking a look at our Clink roomies, barely squeaking out ugly wins in St. Louis and at home against Tampa Bay allowed us to get home field through the playoffs, and ultimately got us into the Super Bowl (which was nothing like an ugly win).
If the Sounders can take that with them, there is hope that we find ourselves continually at the top of the heap at the end of the season, with a bye week after a long season as well as potentially earning home field advantage for the MLS Cup.
Winning ugly seems to come down to a mentality and determination where losing just isn't an option. It's something the Seahawks had to go with the huge chips on most of their shoulders. It's something the Sounders have never really had, but might now in a snubbed world cup Oba, a Dempsey who was questioned in making the move, in a Euro-failed Pappa, in a newly minted DP Ozzie, an older capped Mexican in Pineda, a thoroughly ignored but potentially international level Marshall. The list goes on for us. We have players who have the chip on the shoulder. We also have a team who is willing to work with one another. There is something there that may allow us to go far.
In Range: MLS officiating
I think we've all had that discussion about the referees in the MLS. They're not unlike other referees in the world. They miss stuff. They call things wrong.
I think the real problem I've always had was the level of physicality they allow and how different it is from game to game. The way Chicago played should have not been allowed from the start. Any game with that amount of reckless plays so early on should be managed better.
Even with the physicality aside, the second issue has always been consistency. Again, this is not anything unique to the US, but it seemed to be way off base last weekend. The ref didn't call a biased game, just one where you couldn't tell from one play to another what constitutes a foul.
I really hate having such low expectation for the MLS refs, but it's the reality of the situation. Not unlike the Mariners, they can begin to get better and hopefully they will continue to do so, but until there is a track record of better performance, I don't think the feeling will change any time soon.
From the Half Way Line: Frank Yallop
I feel bad for Chicago. Klopas had no idea how to get defenders to defend, so they give up the 2nd most goals in the league last year. He also couldn't get the team to score aside from Mike Magee. So, they bring in Yallop and a gang of new defenders. They're on track to give up more than the 52 goals against in 2013 using half of Seattle's CB group of last year.
The answer would have been to find a coach who knew how to get a solid defense together. Instead they got a coach who knows how to get players to use questionable, overly physical tackles to stop other players in their tracks. The only offense they will have will be Harry Shipp (silver lining) and dead ball set pieces.
They traded a sub par coach for a coach who *in theory* would improve their defense. He hasn't. They've just become as ugly to watch as San Jose was (but no longer is). It's a shame, the MLS as a whole deserves better than to constantly be exposed to this brand of soccer that is Frank Yallop and teams should stop rewarding this. To that extent, the Chicago front office got what it deserves, but the fans suffer for it.