Last night we saw the Freddyain (Two Freddies) at both their best and their worst. Some of the mistakes in play between the two and by Montero himself were the very lowlights of the match. One could come away from last night thinking that there were problems between the two that will never be solved. One would also be wrong. For the Freddyain not only both scored, but both assisted the other.
In the win over San Jose the fans were again treated to that style of play that I once labeled Sigi's game. Precise short passes, quick attempts at long low through balls, rapid counters with a multitude of players touching the ball as it advances the length of the pitch in just seconds. This is not to say that the match was without errors.
Today the themes are simple
Freddyain - Montero himself - Dissent is not the answer - Sigi's Faith in Seba
Take a look at the following clip from QuickKicks at MLSnet.com. It may be odd that I use a Zakuani cross to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Freddyain, but I figure the goals are easy to see how they worked, but look at how from the same space Ljungberg takes the ball and expects both Zakuani and Montero to make the runs necessary for the play to work.
In the past when Freddie and Fredy started in the same space they would then proceed on the same run. This let a single defender take on two Sounders and made it nearly impossible to break the defense. Last night there were a few moments where this continued, but for the most part Montero and Ljungberg are developing a better sense of chemistry. Some of this was from having them switch things up and when the Swede dives to the middle the Colombian would take the Right Wing. When they had space between each other the best things happened.
The chemistry between the two continues to develop, and is not yet perfect. Some of it is being addressed through tactical moves by Sigi, also by the personality management that is coaching and lastly by Ljungberg taking players under his wing.
From Freddie Ljungberg (On whether he thinks he and Montero are getting more in sync as the season goes along…)
"I hope so. Me and Steve work well together. I played as a winger before in my career and I tried to teach him quite a lot, maybe he needs to run more off the ball, for example. We worked quite a lot on that. He works really well and he’s a great listener. We’ll do the same, me and Fredy. We’ll try to work. Now, for example, maybe earlier in the season, I played in the midfield and I had to defend a lot and I had to go quite deep, so we didn’t get far up on the pitch. So now we’ll try to mix a little bit so we get higher up, and then we’ll have more combinations, me and Fredy."
Zakuani and Ljungberg likely have some of that chemistry from learning the Arsenal system, now he needs to teach Montero the Sigi system. In some ways the system is Wenger lite adjusted for the quality in MLS.
Fredy Montero's individual play
While Fredy played fairly well with Ljungberg, and failed to find the net in some great opportunities he continues to take a bit of time off during the match. I speak not of chasing down long balls, but there are occasions of passivity while he waits for teammates to get him the ball. His off ball runs still need time, even while the ball is deep in Sounder territory.
Schmid has also recognized his lack of Full 90
(On whether he had private conversations with Montero and Ljungberg this week, and what was said…)
"I don’t know if I had a one-on-one meeting with Ljungberg. I don’t think I did. Maybe we talked a little bit on the way out to the field, but I did talk to Freddie Montero. We talked about the energy level and…our league requires a greater endeavor and a greater energy level. I thought for 60 or 65 minutes, I thought his energy level was tremendous, and he got a well-deserved goal. He was unlucky on the other one that didn’t go in. And then maybe the gas tank got empty, but that’s what I need from him. Now we’ll get fitter and fitter with it, so I thought he was very, very good."
This was most apparent when Montero gave the sloppiest back pass we have yet to see from the Rave Green. It was quickly intercepted and goal against the run-of-play was almost certain to occur. Kasey Keller stood little chance, and while the keepers effort was great, he can not be blamed for the Montero gaff. Sounder At Heart isn't the only one calling out Montero for this, and nor are you.
Kasey Keller did in a few more words
"We just got complacent and didn’t clear the ball. I don’t know why and I guarantee you it won’t happen again. There is a time and place to play and that doesn’t wasn’t one of them. It is about learning and getting better with each game. What is always nice is with any player is when you make a mistake is it’s nice to win. For now it means nothing and you learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again."
But, let's all remember a key thing with Fredy Montero the 21 year old Colombian Forward. He has 5 goals, 3 assists and a PP90 of 1.32 likely good for top 10 in the league (yes, I will research that).
Dissent is not the answer
Certainly a common refrain here, but when the Freddyain are suffering 2.71 fouls a game each Sounders FC took a step forward this week, but there are larger steps available. The step forward is that there was no Red Card earned and the full slate of healthy players will be available for the Wednesday night match.
Sadly, there was still a Yellow for Dissent, and it shouldn't surprise that it was the feisty Freddie Ljungberg. While he describes his role on the pitch as a captain (vice-captain?) "Sigi wants me to be a captain on the pitch and lead our team. And then of course, I have to stand up to the referees a little bit" but part of that role of captain must be to demonstrate to the team that the best way to punish those that foul is to score on them. Force them to stop by netting it off of a set-play.
Still the dream for the upcoming transfer season must be a proficient set-play taker, and hopefully the team can find a way to scare the opposition away from fouling. Because if the Rave Green score off the set as much as Chicago the Sounders would be a top of table club rather than 5th in league and 3rd in West.
The best news of the week though is that entering the Sunday match Sounders sit at 3rd most likely to make the playoffs at 86.5%.
Sigi's Faith in Seba
One of the questions entering this match is what would Sounders do without a Target Forward (Jaqua) and how would Seb Le Toux be inserted into the lineup. These questions were answered by a solid effort with Le Toux taking playing a different style of target man, that of the chaser. More of the long plays went to him, but I may even say that both Montero and Le Toux were more like target men for the deep punts from Wahl, King and Ianni.
While Sounders FC does have a solid midfield (Zakuani, Ljungberg and Evans) in attack, yesterday it was bypassed at times to insert the ball deep in the Quakes defensive third. This took advantage of the speed that Montero, Le Toux and Zakuani have either centrally or in the wings, and challenged the inexperience of the Quakes in working together.
The Rave Green accomplished this by running a 4-2-2-2. Neither Evans nor King played a classic Defensive Mid in a diamond, but instead each spent time as a box-to-box CM while the other held back in a more defensive role. Zakuani and Ljunberg played in what is now becoming apparent as an outer attacking mid, with lesser defensive responsibilities. Some could go as far as calling this a 4-2-4 even.
For all the Seb Le Toux fans, he proved himself worthy of regular minutes, frequent starts, and he is carrying a +/- of 7 and a PP90 of 0.46. While most expansion teams have trouble with depth it is quite clear that SSFC has three capable forwards, six capable midfielders and six capable backs when healthy (Graham would make 7 but I want to see him in MLS matches before I make that a 7).
Lastly, this week expect to see how the upcoming CCL and SL should help bring the hardcharging teams a bit back in the '09 standings.