For as long as I can remember, Friday has always come once a week, and here it is again. Friday is a day for Happy Hour. It's a day for awkwardly congratulating your co-workers on making it through the week. It's a day of hope, of reflection. A day for a Major League Soccer match. Well. Not tonight it seems. Which is too bad really, but this mailbag will have to tide you over. Today's panel features Dustyn, Ian, Steven, Mike, Cory, and our brand new signing, Clay - who is making his Total MLS Debut.
Let's get started.
Great question. In fact, this question was so inspiring, the staff argued as to who wanted to take it. By the almighty law of dibs, I was fortunate enough to handle it.
Transition is fun. It’s evolved just like formations have evolved throughout the years. Transition styles can also be easy to detect if you know how to look for them. For example, Lobanovskyi’s Dynamo Kyiv in the 70’s and Soviet Union in the 80’s were known for their unrelenting discipline. Players knew EXACTLY where their teammates were at any given time, and movement seemed almost 2nd nature. However, to that team, a CAM was a CAM is a CAM will always be a CAM, and that CAM never left his zone. On the flip side, Cruyff and Guardiola attacked the transition issue differently. Players knew where their partners were, but they also had the capabilities of filling in the gaps other players may have left. Transition was and is their specialties, mainly because another player is closing down on the opponent that just won the ball. Klopp furthered that mentality by pushing it higher up the field defensively, emphasizing fitness above all else to achieve it.
To answer the question succinctly, however, the answer is case specific, let alone team specific or league specific. A multitude of variables influence whether or not a certain player is going to track back in transition, including but not limited to: league style, team style, formation trends, opposition style, opposition difficulty, players on the pitch during any given time, and whether or not the player feels it necessary during that particular moment. For MLS, players like Nguyen, Bradley, and Jones are given the freedom to roam and play wherever they feel is the best fit. Maidana, Piatti, and Dempsey are given the option to stay put with the help of other midfielders that have the tendency to track back. Granted, those are generalized viewpoints, as every change of play requires a different type of reaction.
For real? Yes. “For real for real?” Maybe.
The Rapids put together an impressive start to the season after losing 1-0 on matchday one. Colorado has not allowed more than one goal in any of its matches this season, and are tied for a league low five goals against. The club knocked off the Galaxy, Sporting KC and Toronto which were all playoff teams last season. Colorado has shown it is for real. The team was solid without Jermaine Jones.
Now add Jones. This is where the Rapids hinge on being, “for real for real.” Jones looked outstanding in his first match in a Rapids kit scoring a goal in a 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls. When the Rapids first signed Jones, they went from a team that could maybe compete, to serious playoff contenders in a lot of people’s minds, and now he showed why. So right now, the Rapids are for real with a chance of being, “for real for real,” in a brutal Western Conference.
As I look into my crystal ball, I see Kei Kamara tallying 18 goals, Federico Higuain playing maestro, Ethan Finlay nearing double digit goals and assists, and Justin Meram scoring when it counts. What I would like to see is the Crew make a move to shore up the defense. While they can score in bunches, they are also a leaky defense. Last season they gave up the second most goals of any team to make the playoffs and that hasn’t been rectified yet this campaign.
But don’t fear Crew SC fans, I wouldn’t hit the panic button just yet. The east is the less competitive conference and considering the abundance of talent on the roster, Columbus will be just fine. And remember, this is Major League Soccer we are talking about, every team will see its share of peaks and valleys throughout the season. The Crew is only a couple of wins from catapulting itself into the top 3 in the East. When the regular season concludes, I strongly believe we will see Columbus in the Top 4 of the east, and then as we all know, in the MLS playoffs anything can happen.
Anibaba? No, not really. I don't honestly know what Coyle sees in him. Sheanon Williams seems to be the better option, and by all accounts he's healthy, so I really have no answer as to what Jalil is doing in the starting lineup every week. I think Anibaba is an average player on his very best day. He's a more than serviceable backup option, but probably not somebody you want starting a majority of your matches.
I’m going to assume you are asking what position would improve the Dynamo the most. Otherwise, my answer would be Messi or Ronaldo. They would instantly make the Dynamo better.
In all honesty, the Dynamo badly need defensive help. They have more holes in their back line than that shirt you got in college that you now use to paint in on weekends. The backline of DaMarcus Beasley, David Horst, Raul Rodriguez, and Jalil Anibaba have had to watch Joe Willis pick the ball out of the net 13 times in 6 games. In front of the back four, with Owen Coyle playing a 4-2-3-1, defensive midfielders are an issue too. Ricardo Clark is not getting any younger and Alex isn’t a defensive midfielder.
The attack has been great. Even with the Dynamo conceding 13 goals, their goal difference is 0. If Houston wants to do anything with the 2016 season they have to get better defensively. They brought in Spaniards David Rocha and Agus but we haven’t seen much of them. Outside of bringing in a new player, this would be the easiest fix. If a trade or signing is to be made, it’s got to be done soon. I’m sure Matt Jordan feels the urgency as well. Coyle has to begin shuffling the lineup at some point, they can’t keep running the same team out week after week and getting the same poor results.