Friday is back again and so is Friday Night Soccer. We missed it last week and we've got what promises to be a chilling encounter for the New York Red Bulls who have been leaking goals at an alarming rate vs FC Dallas who have been scoring goals at a pretty decent clip. However, you can never discount the fact that this is MLS, and if parity is king than surprise is most assuredly the queen. Thanks for sending all of your questions in. We're going to cover RBNY, RSL, Goalkeepers, Bongs, and just what KC was thinking benching Tim Melia. Our panel this week includes Ian, Steven, Anne Marie, Tyler, Mike, and Cory.
Let's get started!
First, every team’s goal is to steal at least a point on the road; it’s an attrition game. Therefore, the baseline is five points.
However, Real Salt Lake has been punching up their weight class recently, and aside from last Saturday in LA, the defense has managed to hold it together over the full 90’ (in comparison to blowing leads to Portland and Orlando late in matches). These next five away matches – Colorado, Houston, Sporting Kansas City, Columbus, and NYC – all combine for a 9-5-6 record at home this year, the outliers being NYC and Colorado on either end of the spectrum.
The Rocky Mountain Cup rarely fails to entertain, nor does it typically end without a close score either way. Houston and Columbus are still struggling to find wins, and are prime targets to pounce at this stage. Sporting has lost to RSL in Kansas once already, though I doubt it will happen again. The most interesting matchup is the final one against New York City. Will teammates Beckerman, Olave, Plata, and others channel their former Kreis days when Rio Tinto had the smallest field dimensions and the team relied on quick one-touch passing, or will Cassar stick to the current plan going into a congested Yankee Stadium?
My prediction: Real Salt Lake, in their current form and confidence, will amass at least 7 points over this five game stretch.
Despite writing an article stating that Nick Rimando is the best GK in MLS - prior to the season (based on abilities alone), I would say the GK who is having the best season is: David Ousted of the Vancouver Whitecaps. David has been incredible thus far. Yes, the Whitecaps have been poor, but this is not due to David’s goalkeeping. If anything, they are being kept in games by him. Even in the match where the Whitecaps conceded 4 goals, he made several incredible saves that would have otherwise been understandable goals for D.C. I am not one for blaming a ‘keeper when a 1v1 goes in the back of the net. In that match, DC had 2 goals come from 1v1s against Ousted from two wonderful passes.
An honorable mention is: Andre Blake.
It’s a confusing move for Orlando. Collin’s wage sat at $525,000 in 2015, which has carried into the current season. That’s quite a chunk of change to pay a man who is rotting on the bench. After starting 27 matches (28 total appearances) in 2015, he’s only appeared twice and started once in 2016, losing his starting position to Redding and Hines. They don’t have much depth other than that, which only makes this a viable choice if you take a look at salary and form. Overall, it does seem like a salary dump situation for the Lions.
For New York, this is a last-gasp attempt to get something resembling a healthy center back in their lineup. Perrinelle, Baah, and Zubar (let alone outside back Kemar Lawrence) have all graced the injury report since the beginning of the 2016 campaign, skewing the Red Bulls’ hopes of improving upon their 2015 successes. Collin will only count $250,000 against the cap for NYRB, and the Red Bulls will only give up a fourth round draft pick in the process.
It’s a win for the Red Bulls and a chance to free up some cap space for Orlando on a defender who’s clearly fallen out of favor. The biggest risk, however, remains with Orlando’s depth at center back (and they could definitely improve upon Redding and Hines - freeing up cap space will help further that cause). For the Red Bulls it seems a small risk, as the 30 year old defender still has plenty of good years left ahead of him and can receive a starting position immediately. Hopefully it will buoy his, and New York’s, form. They both need each other.
In my humble opinion, the 3-4-3 isn’t a sufficient scheme in the majority of professional leagues and I thoroughly do not believe it would behoove this Red Bull roster. The 3-4-3 leaves the back line prone to counterattacks. I think the high pressure 4-2-3-1 system they run now can and will be successful. In actuality, the 4-2-3-1 is a hybrid 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 system. The 4-5-1 is primarily used when on the defensive side of the ball. The theory behind such a system is that with nine players behind the ball, the high pressure will force the opposition to make mistakes in the midfield, which then leads to a counterattack.
The 4-5-1 then transitions into a 4-3-3 while on the attack, allowing an outside back to push up into the offensive zone, giving the squad 7 players in or around the box. Again, in theory it should cause an overload of numbers, which leads to more scoring chances being created, and eventually more goals being scored. Case and point, in 2015 the Red Bulls led the league in goals with pretty much the exact same lineup.
Ok, so enough soccer nerd knowledge for now. Back to the question at hand, given that Damien Perrinelle will be out another couple of months and probably not match fit for some time after that, the ideal backline for the foreseeable future would be (from left to right):
Lawrence - Collin - Bah - Duvall
Ronald Zubar is adequate for spot duty at center back but is too reckless and card prone to be considered a full-time starter. And personally, I do not like Sal Zizzo as a starting right back. He, like Zubar, is adequate for spot duty but is a midfielder by trade not an outside back. As much as I love Connor Lade, he is also built only to be filler at outside.
Brek Shea. There is no way the answer to this question is not Brek Shea. -Ian L.
Peter Vermes might be the most disliked man in all of MLS this week, even more so amongst fantasy managers who had Melia as their starting goalkeeper. At first I was really angry...like really angry, but now that I've thought about it more...I'm still angry, but I might also understand.
Last week when SKC played San Jose, the only goal of the game came from Tim Melia taking down Simon Dawkins in the box resulting in a penalty for Wondolowski. Some forget that he also had an almost identical situation happen the first time SKC played the Whitecaps when he took down Octavio Rivera in the box resulting in a Pedro Morales penalty goal. Perhaps Peter Vermes might not be happy with his starting goalkeepers’ recklessness in the box? It's possible.
Another explanation I can think of is probably the more likely of the two. It's no secret that Sporting have a crazy schedule this season. They have a lot of games that are not very far apart with almost no breaks in between. All of this is hard on a player’s body, yes even for goalkeepers. Peter Vermes probably thought this was a prime opportunity to rest his starter before facing a very strong looking LA Galaxy this weekend. Not to mention, BC Place is on turf and turf isn't very soft to land on when diving to save goals.
I've seen people suggest that maybe Melia has a minor injury and PV was giving him a rest for that reason. It's definitely possible, it's a long season and we saw how that bit them in the booty last season. Some might remember that Kempin was the goalkeeper in that epic playoff game against the eventual league winners, the Portland Timbers. I personally don't think Melia is too unwell to play and I think we will definitely see him against the Galaxy, but if it were something minor that just needed rest, this is also a possibility.
Regardless I still want to have words with Mr. Bench All My Starters *cough* Vermes.
Cory: Full English Breakfast
Rob: Nonna's Lasagna (It's his grandmother's lasagna awwwww...)
Anne Marie: Tacos!
Mike: Buffalo Chicken Salad
Clay: A home raised Ribeye Steak (Clay is from Texas if that needed to be said).