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Sometimes the referees screw the other guys

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Three points against the league leaders. Destiny in the hands of the Rave Green. A match where the depth of each side was tested, and it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has followed this league for more than a few months that the two clubs at the top of the table right now likely have the deepest sides.

Houston has lost significant players and they just continue to perform. Beating them, no matter the fact they were missing their starting backline and their two leading scorers is huge. And as a fan, and analyst, I will need to remind everyone that bad refereeing effects all sides in this league. Frankly, that's fair. No team is going to benefit or be punished by poor decisions by the officials and last night Seattle was helped more than it was hurt.

Today's analysis looks at the following issues;
Montero's Not a Goal - Waibel/Kamara Class in their Classlessness - Swapping and Spacing

Montero's Not a Goal
Watch it again, take off your Rave. You don't even need to put on your Orange (their opinion is already set, so is ours really) cap.

Does 100% of the ball cross the line? Just focus on that simple question.

This video is from the broadcast by Houston

Frankly, I agree with Glenn Davis. It was a poor call. They happen every week, and in every league. There are mistakes in calling goals. There have been balls rolling over the endline called goals even a few yards away. But it doesn't matter, not after a few seconds of trying to convince the center referee. The decision is made and the match continues. Each team has to deal with that possible bad call.

Montero sold his fifth goal in five matches. Read his words. He celebrated prior to the goal being awarded. He couldn't have known it was called. He just celebrated as if he tied the game.

(On the goal) "That was a good play. We had time for Nate (Jaqua) to control the ball, I had time to indicate where I wanted it…he found the spot, he found the place. I had to chest it down, then it didn’t go down so I had to touch it again, and then everything was very quick. When it was in, I just went to celebrate."
(On his reaction after the goal) "I had diagonal position, everything happened very quick. My first reaction was just to raise my arm and celebrate."

It was a textbook Sounders FC play, a quick counter with a secondary assist awarded from a pass in the defensive half. There were five Sounders running all in separate lanes. King starts the action threading to Jaqua with a few touches and the deep pass. In mere seconds the ball is from a position where most clubs in MLS wait for build-up to nearly in the net traveling 60+ yards.

But it wasn't a goal

There is a solution that FIFA is considering. While it still wouldn't be a as good as technology, I feel that the improvements to over gameplay are better by adding two endline judges. The "Five Official Test" will be conducted through Europa League Qualifying and Group Stages for over 200 matches in the upcoming UEFA season. The focus of the endline judges would be on goal scored/not scored and misconduct within the penalty area.

"It was decided that the tests should be carried out in a major competition, and the UEFA Europa League lent itself to this," said UEFA President Michel Platini. "[Everyone] can watch [the tests] on TV, and the IFAB will eventually take a positive or negative decision." If the IFAB's future decision is favourable, Mr Platini said that UEFA would move to introduce the system for all of its European competitions.

Major League Soccer should implement this as soon as UEFA does, if not sooner. It would result in a less violent game likely increasing goal scoring and get rid of phantom goals. The Group Stage for Europa will be over during MLS' winter break and so if it looks like this change makes sense for MLS the change could be implemented by 2010, even if it means fewer matches on a single day so that MLS referee teams could work two matches a week, lessening the impact of needing 40 refs a week v the current 24.

Waibel/Kamara Class in their Classlessness
Kamara and Waibel earned the animosity of the crowd last night. More the local product who was continually booed, but some have called Kamara a cheat and a hack due to his earned Yellow on Freddie Ljungberg.

Not to be contrary, but Kamara conducted a professional yellow that prevented Houston from falling down by two goals with his very hard tackle on the Swede. But as soon as the play was whistled he went over to Freddie and checked on him. There was no intent to injure, and you will note that as Ljungberg was subbed off Kamara came over and exchanged words a low-five. The Caution was properly awarded, but all parties involved knew that it was a solid footballing play.

Craig Waibel on the other hand was classless and he knows it. You don't bounce to ball off a man's head. Not at any level. It shows disrespect for the game and likely should have had him kicked out of the match for a second Yellow. Waibel though post-match proved that while he was classless on that one play, he is still a class man and player.

(On the fans’ reaction to him) "I guess, all in all, my job is to entertain and if they have an opinion about me, so be it. I’ll put it this way, I’m not many opposing team’s favorite player. I’ve been booed once or twice in my career, if not every year."

(On the throw-in scuffle) "I gotta be honest, I’m a bit embarrassed. I pride myself on respecting the game and I think I had a brief lack of respect. By no means am I proud of it. I think I play the game well and with good intent and I think that was a little lapse in concentration and judgment."

(On the atmosphere) "It was awesome. I went to school here at Washington and grew up in Spokane and played for the Sounders back in 1999 and 2000 … so this is something that I’d always dreamed would be here in Seattle. To come up here and take part in it is fun. I can’t say I wished they would’ve won today, but the atmosphere is fantastic. It’s what soccer is in the United States. This is not a one-off, but a great example of what’s to come. I think other cities are learning. People learned from Toronto and I think Seattle learned from Toronto and it just making it better. I think every organization from here out really has a tough standard. And the organizations that exist, like ours, and that have a great fan base, really have something to shoot for."

So while Craig may look like an NFL Fullback or Linebacker, it is obvious that he regrets the play that will likely result in him getting fined and maybe suspended and that he still loves our state.

Swapping and Spacing
It is obvious that this is becoming a strong suit for the Sounders with Montero spending a lot of time to the right this week, and Zakuani diving into the middle with Ljungberg drifting right and left. It isn't total football, which let's be honest is unlikely to happen in a league with such a low cap. I would call it zonal football, as part of the Sigi system. Each attacking player has specific zones that they are expected to be able to occupy, to know their channels and defensive responsibilities.

So while Montero might be listed as the forward and Ljungberg as the right midfielder I saw more of Montero on the Right Wing and Ljungberg as a Withdrawn Forward who desperately wants to taste the net. When the squad is at full strength again the formation will look something like this, I think...

Quick and dirty look at the 4-1-3-2 of Sounders FC with two wingbacks and no CAM.

That is my recognition that Brad Evans plays as a CM not a CAM, and that there will be a Left WingBack joining the club when Costa Rica's run in the Gold Cup ends.

Maybe 2-3-1-3-1 if you want to stick with the numerical system. I'll just call it Sigi's Arrow, and it is aimed at the opponents goal.

Notes
Jaqua is +10 with 6 Goals/6 Assists and a PP90 of 1.18. Eary in the season fans were down on Montero, sometimes on Jaqua. Keep being down on the forward tandem. I will take their production over work rate any day.

Le Toux is +8 in league play. Work Rate does still show up in numbers, and I'm trying to add a column to +/- that rates it per 90 minutes played as well. Seb on that single measure without context is a +0.72, which in a league with basically 2.6 Goals per match would put a team with Seb on the field in a strong position to win.

Ianni MUST be up for Goal of the Week. We'll find out tomorrow, when he will likely get overshadowed by MLS All-Star announcements. A bicycle in traffic just a yard from the keeper should be a winner, that and considering that there were only 10 goals in league play this week it should help his chances. To quote Steve Clare at Prost Amerika when I asked him if Ianni will be up for Goal of the Week "yes, but Pat won't know about it until Fredy Montero tells him."

Seriously, that win was HUGE. Sounders went from a 7% chance at the Shield to 16%, from a 90% chance at Playoffs to 94%. Another MLS Bye Week for Sounders, this time we have to root for the East to do what it hasn't been able to do - Beat the West. TFC v Dynamo, Revolution v Chivas. But if Seattle wins its remaining matches v Houston and baby LA matching both in all other league play destiny is Rave Green.

Added: Sounders are now at 4.4% success in Corner Kick conversion in league play.

The site is going to have a few changes soon. As I am no longer campaigning for the Council, I will instead try to update you on what is happening with us.

Thoughts on the five official system for MLS? Thoughts on Waibel? Thoughts on life?