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Outgunned and Out-Scouted: Those Post-Game, Post-Loss Thoughts

So. Yeah. About that game.

  • First, let's start with some good news. Houston beat Colorado today 1-0, meaning we're still in second in the West. Let's hear it for parity!
  • I thought we were a pretty physical team. I thought that a referee who allowed the players to keep playing -- rather than calling every little niggling thing -- would work to our advantage. Silly me. Compared to Chivas, we're kind of a bunch of wusses.

    Okay, not wusses, exactly. I still love our style of play. But against a team like Chivas, with a ref like this, there's a lot more room to use physical play to advantage. They did, we didn't.

    Statistic: fouls: Chivas 18 (Atiba Harris 4); Seattle 6 (5 tied with 1)
    Yes, Harris pissed me off royally, but damn. He was effective.

  • I believe that Preki and Co. may be the scouting kings. I was, and still am, impressed with Sigi's and Adrian's ability to find those diamonds in the rough like Fredy Montero and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Osvaldo Alonso. But we may have been outgunned by the team that discovered Bojan Stepanovic, Chukwudi Chijindu and Eduardo Lillingston, not to mention a resurgent Zach Thornton. (Whom I love. I can't deny it.)
  • We had our chances. If Fredy's chip over Thornton in the early going had been just a couple of feet to the right, the complexion of this game would have been entirely different.
  • Not having Keller in goal is huge, and not just because of his goalkeeping. When he's on the field, he's like a giant security blanket that wraps around the entire team. He doesn't just play, he commands and directs and motivates. (In short, he's everything a captain should be.) I love Chris Eylander and have high hopes for him for the future, but we needed Kasey tonight.

    Comment from reader "carlost," with which I agree completely:

Also, don’t underestimate the impact on these last two games of having a good keeper at the back, instead of the best keeper your country has ever produced. Keller was earning his first cap for the national team when Eylander and Dragavon were six. He was playing on World Cup squads and in international matches against the likes of Brazil when our younger keepers were learning to spell. In fact, around the time Eylander and Dragavon were finishing middle school, Keller shut out Brazil in the 1998 Gold Cup semifinal, leading Romario, a World Cup winning striker, to call it the best goalkeeping performance he’d ever seen.

So, to me it’s not a coincidence that we give up our first goals when Keller’s not in the nets. It’s not just that he’s a great keeper, that he’s got superior positional sense, and great decision making skills (most of the time). All those things are true, but Keller is a leader, someone who gives the rest of the players confidence that they can take some risks and still be okay. That sort of spirit affects not just the defense, but the whole team. Riley may have scored an own goal this time out, but a couple weeks ago against Toronto he had an inspired sequence where he used some beautiful control and deft passing to launch Ljungberg down the sideline. That was followed up by Freddie touching the ball to Seba, who centered it, where Jaqua one timed it, and the ball shot out to where Zakuani could slot it home. Riley knew he could come out and contribute to the offense because the guys behind him were comfortable and confident in their ability to handle the Toronto attack. And they were confident in that ability because they knew what got by them would probably be stopped by Keller. Expect the performance to improve next week when Keller returns.

  • Money quote from Sigi:

    "[A]s I said, we're missing our ability to sustain our attack when we attack them. It seemed like once our attack ended, and once they got the ball, then we had to go all the way back into our defensive third before we could attack again."

  • If this team can learn to play with Freddie Ljungberg in central midfield the way they played before he came back (and even when he played up front), watch out. The bad results in the last two games aren't in any way Freddie's fault, but the team did all of it's preseason prep without him. Integrating him into the lineup in a way that can use his strengths while compensating for the weaknesses caused by the loss of Steve Zakuani or Sanna Nyassi is going to take time.

    But hopefully not too much time.

  • If I'm remembering correctly, in Chicago's inaugural season -- the one where they won the Cup -- they lost five games in a row before coming back to win eleven straight. These last two games are a blip if the team can learn and build.
  • So...yeah. Disappointing, definitely. But still. Nine points in five games isn't all that bad for an expansion team.

    Now let's take out San Jose at the knees.

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