The first midweek game of the season was this week, with the New England Revolution hosting the San Jose Earthquakes in front of just over 10k fans on a cold Wednesday night in Massachusetts. While a 0-0 draw in MLS might normally be considered a snoozefest, let’s talk about the redeeming qualities of this game.
4. How Bruce Arena made his money
As a long time LA Galaxy fan, I feel like I have gained a certain expertise in finding the positives in a 0-0 draw. Bruce Arena, MLS coaching legend and current US Men’s National Team head coach, made a career from focusing on defensive fortitude and counterattacking when appropriate. Games that Arena coaches may not always be the most entertaining and often end with a low scoreline, but he knows how to get the job done and how to use his players’ strengths to his advantage. Arena’s record of success in MLS has made the reserved style of play more acceptable league wide.
3. Wondo’s Whiff
While this play makes me cringe every time I see it, it shows that we are growing our expectations of the league. It’s not a “stereotypical MLS play,” as some general soccer fans may call it, because the league has grown beyond that point and it’s not something that only happens in MLS. It is incredibly easy to point to the highs of one league while pulling from the worst of another league to try to prove a point. In this instance, it is unfortunate for Wondoloski to be the player to have such a rough swing and a miss, because of the World Cup whiff against Belgium that is still slightly (or maybe severely) tender in the minds of US Soccer fans.
2. Stats on stats on stats
This game may not have been the high scoring game that non soccer fans crave, but there are more stats involved than just the scoreline. Both teams combined for twenty three shots, with eight of those shots on goal, proving for impressive showings for both goalkeepers, Cody Cropper and David Bingham. Passing percentages in this game were both above average, with New England completing 76% of their passes and San Jose completing 71%. This game provided fans periods of fluidity along with plenty of entertaining shots and saves on both ends. Of course, no statistical analysis is complete without the Audi Player Index, which awarded Earthquakes’ goalkeeper David Bingham the highest index score of the night at 838. Has anyone figured out that formula yet?
1. These teams are stereotypical versions of themselves.
We are at a point in the growth of MLS as a league in which teams officially have their own styles. New England once put out an April Fool’s Day press release about signing a number 10 style player because the media was pressuring them to do so. New England has styled their system to fit around and develop younger domestic players and San Jose has grown into a style of gritty players who “never say die.” I’m proud to say that we are getting to a point where MLS teams are trying more to be their own style than trying to be like other leagues abroad.