Warshaw: 24 MLS Take-Aways After 25th Week


Have you been full of rivalries? There is a lot to chew of last week. Let's jump in.

Atlanta United

In the last month, Atlanta has shown that its best is really good. Beat the NYCFC well; win in Portland well; upgrading Club America well. But Friday night's performance in Orlando was bad.

Atlanta is bludgeoned. The Five Stripes won the match, but it was not a "difficult, looking for ways" performance; it was a chance.

Last week, after defeating Portland, I said I'm a judge for two weeks. We are in the same place this week. Obviously, Atlanta United has enough to win the MLS Cup (and is an East favorite). But you're too optimistic if you do not worry about their inconsistencies, and even more, their reasons – how do we know exactly when Pity Martinez will be good on a given day? Justin Meram and Julian Gressel can they really defend themselves against good teams? What days does the midfielder want to defend in transition?

I do not know the answer to these questions and there is nothing about the approach / tactics as a group that seems to be dealing with them.

the Chicago fire

I will make a rule that if I leave you for three weeks in a row, I can avoid you for a week. I've put a lot of faith in Chicago this year and they've always found a way to let me down.

FC Cincinnati

FC Cincinnati tried to squeeze. They conceded two goals while trying to put pressure on them. If you want to press, you need a center-back capable of handling 1-v-1 situations in the space. they must be able to follow the attackers in the middle of the field, then turn with them in the channel. Kendall Waston is not that guy. Maikel van der Werff does not seem to be this guy either.

Columbus Crew SC

It was a return to the Berhalter era on Sunday. Both goals come from the same game scheme, the one we have seen many times under their former coach.

Step 1: They set themselves in position to get out of the back on a goal kick and once they felt the pressure, they went around the press with a forced ball into the attacker. They recognized that there was room in front of the four backs of the opponent to make a pass, and if the pass did not connect, there was a chance to win a second ball in a dangerous place. (He's not a Berhalter revolutionary, it's something that every professional team should be able to do.)

Step 2: Once they have exceeded the pressure, they seek the goal. They do not waste time; they have already used the balloon to create space, they do not need to go completely to the top of the 18; dark. Both goals were marked by early whipped centers behind the Cincinnati defensemen. It's repeated and intentional.

It was nostalgic to see the crew push him away like that.

Colorado Rapids

We interviewed new head coach Robin Fraser on Extratime.

I'm happy to see Fraser take on another head coach position. He seems to be one of the smartest minds in American football. And it's always interesting to see the directors take their second job. Most of the lessons you had in your first experience as a manager – led by Fraser at Chivas USA in 2011-2012 – are about human resource management. There is nothing that can prepare you for some of the strange things that happen (eg "Boss, I'm sorry I did not play well, my wife is divorcing me!"). You come in with all these ideas about how you want to play football and then you get lost by dealing with people. Once you have these experiences to your credit, you can really instill your football ideas. Fraser has ideas; Colorado have an exciting list. It sounds like a good shot Rapids.

FC Dallas

The mysterious case of Zdenek Ondrasek. (First of all, let me tell you that I find him very endearing on TV.) Even though it was a frustrating year for him, as a TAM player and then struggling for a few minutes, the "Cobra" was played with energy and enthusiasm.It seems so difficult to lead as an attacker since your back is always your team mates and you need to listen to their instructions more than to give yours, but it always seems to encourage the players around him.) Ondrasek did not enter the field at the beginning of the year because he could not do all that Luchi Gonzalez had asked, namely to keep possession of the hand and put pressure on him; Ondrasek is an old school striker in the box. In the end, it is this trait that could revive his place on the team and save the Dallas season. It's a similar problem that Philadelphia has had in the last two years. The attacker is so involved in the fortuitous creation that he is not here to finish. You can always count on Ondrasek around the goal.

D.C. United

Some good news! Lucho Acosta looked sharp in his 20 minutes against the Red Bulls midweek, and then on his next start against Philly on Saturday. A small detail that, we hope, is auspicious: he has found the striking effect in his pass-movement-return actions. You know what I'm talking about. They are what makes Acosta so dangerous. He plays the ball forward and follows and runs past a line of defense to recover it. He had seemed a bit slow in these accelerations and it seemed like he had had some pep this week.

Houston Dynamo

Forget it happened.


Bob Bradley often uses the phrase "we need to find football" or "we have to find a way to play our football". This stems from the fact that many football matches turn into football kicking competitions. They do not make much sense, there is no model, two teams come and go and the winner is the one who makes the big game. The good teams find the way to make sense of a game. They find a way to instill their ideas and models.

Against LAFC, many teams, especially the Galaxy, have first and foremost tried to disrupt LAFC's ideas and then gain chaos. The Galaxy accomplished its mission during the first 35 minutes Sunday night. Their pressure and intensity made LAFC uncomfortable. Eduard Atuesta, Anthony Mark-Kaye, Latif Blessing and Walker Zimmerman all looked down. It was not tactical; LAFC just looked worried. The discomfort has led to erratic errors.

Once LAFC calmed down, they started playing. When they started playing, they started to dominate the game. On top of that, they added a wrinkle in the second half. The Galaxy had compressed their four backs to eliminate the lethal passes of LAFC through the holes. In response, LAFC started to keep the wingers wider so that the center medians could play outside the back of the Galaxy. Because the galaxy was so compact, the LAFC wingers were still central enough to attack the goal.

THE Galaxy

  • Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez
  • Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan
  • Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco
  • Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins
  • Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips
  • (Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon!)

These are the five most attacking duets of the MLS over the last 10 years. I had two questions in mind during El Trafico on Sunday:

  1. Where can Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristian Pavon be on this list?
  2. Where should the Galaxy go if the Galaxy wants to win the MLS Cup?

In the first half, it seemed that the galaxy would mark every time Pavon received the ball. It was incredible. It is also clear that the Galaxy's game plan is to send the ball to Pavon and Zlatan and see what happens.

Minnesota United

I'm still afraid I'll do too much (yes, I notice), but sometimes something happens and it's strange that people do not care a bit. Is it really possible that Darwin Quintero, the club's first DP and certainly his best striker, does not start the club's first chance to win a trophy as an MLS team? Minnesota made the US Open Cup final on Tuesday (at 8 pm Paris time | ESPN +), and Quintero did not start the previous match – a match with four days off before the final. I do not remember a more important decision regarding the composition of an mLS team. (Tommy Meyer on AJ DeLaGarza in MLS Cup 2012?) Quintero must start, is not it?

Montreal Impact

I am interested in seeing Montreal play when they do not feel the weight of keeping last place for the 2018 2018 MLS Cup Series. It's a different feeling to hunt than to protect. They have seemed slow in recent weeks. Maybe falling under the playoff zone will take a weight off their shoulders and give them more energy.


Dome Torrent used an old Red Bulls round against the Red Bulls this weekend. He played in a 4-2-2-2 (which has occasionally turned into 3-5-2), with Keaton Parks and Alex Ring behind Maxi Moralez and Alexandru Mitrita behind Heber and Valentin Castellanos. Starting positions provided two advantages:

  • NYCFC has always had numbers around the ball to connect short passes. Some teams are tempted to spread the pitch against an urgent team (RBNY); This works in favor of RBNY because a key principle of the press is that the player on the ball can never raise his head to connect a long ball. Taking us to number two …
  • NYCFC has always had players around the second ball. If you extend the field and do not connect your trained balls, you are screwed on a second ball; RBNY is killing you in transitions. NYCFC did not have that problem, because they still had five or six players competing for the 50/50. With that, they returned the Red Bulls plan against them and dominated most of the match.

Revolution of New England

After Teal Bunbury left Saturday's victory over Chicago in the 12th minute, Bruce Arena replaced Cristian Penilla in the partnership with Gustavo Bou as forward. One of the most interesting conversations of the MLS is the way teams use their attackers. Specifically, do you choose the talent or functionality? It was 100% talented for Arena. Juan Fernando Caicedo would have been the functional option because he understands the position and can do a few things to make the game easier for Bou. Penilla has rarely played as a striker and you can not qualify his match as disciplined. He is however talented and dangerous. Arena has always had the gift of restoring attacks that make no sense, but that end well. I can not wait to see if I can do the same with the Carles Gil-Bou-Penilla central trio.

New York Red Bulls

I do not know what to say about RBNY in the overview, if it is that I repeat the thought of last week: they will completely dominate a 20 minute sequence in the first period – they have done against this week against DC United and NYCFC. – and they must leave this stretch with a lead of several goals. They have not found a way to prevent the momentum from going back, so they have to find a way to make the most of the first chances.

One of the reasons they dominated early Saturday was that they mixed their pressing stratagem. Everyone knows that RBNY is pressing, but his coaching staff has not received enough credit over the years for the way he mixes his pressing projects from match to match. Their defensive moves are rarely the same two weeks in a row. This week, it was particularly unique. They used Daniel Royer as second striker alongside Bradley Wright-Phillips to close the central back of the NYCFC; Kaku took the first defensive midfield; Alex Muyl closed his left back. It would be natural to think that their right-back, Anton Tinnerholm, would be wide open, except that RBNY defensive midfielder Vincent Bezecourt was used to sneaking away. The NYCFC did not manage to navigate or get out of half for the first 20.

An example of the rotation of the Red Bulls to press NYCFC

City of Orlando

It will be a shame if Orlando does not play in the playoffs. They have become one of the smartest and best organized teams in the league. Orlando could be the best team in the league to counter what the other wants, and especially to neutralize the opposing leaders. But, as a wise man has already said, you can not win if you do not score. The Lions have scored more than once in their last 11 games.

Philadelphia Union

It was good to see Mark McKenzie back in training. I mentioned it last year, but it seems useful to recall it a year later – McKenzie is different from other centers developed in the MLS. Justen Glad, Walker Zimmerman, Matt Miazga, Auston Trusty, Erik Palmer-Brown, Matt Hedges, Aaron Long and Miles Robinson are all similar players. McKenzie is more of a transit center. He is comfortable with the ball and has the sense of passing selection. He understands when to go side by side and when to break lines in the middle. This is the type of player that could offer something different to the US Men's National Team. And he needs to navigate this point of his career – experiencing growth pains, losing his point of departure, developing as a professional – without losing his self-confidence and bluster.

Portland Timbers

I'm sorry, this theme is becoming a record, but … What's the plan when they have to destroy a compact defense? If we had to ask Diego Valeri, Diego Chara, Julio Cascante and Steve Clark how they will score, would they all give the same answer? It does not look like me. It looks like they're all playing one game at a time, hoping that whoever holds the ball will find the action that kills. They have to be more patient, make a few lateral passes and embossed to put something in place, then get to the point.

True salt lake

Matt Doyle said Monday in Extratime that he thought RSL is a better team with Damir Kreilach, not Sam Johnson, as an attacker. They definitely had better pace against Colorado on Saturday, once Johnson would be replaced and Kreilach would be in the lead. However, I would say that the opponent is a prisoner and that Freddy Juarez miscalculated his lineup for the match against Colorado. Johnson is the best option when there is enough space to attack beyond a baseline; it's hard to be outdistanced by a team that starts its line of confrontation in the middle of the field and plays directly (in Colorado, for example). When RSL has to separate a team, they have to face Kreilach as scorer. However, when RSL wants to be the most defensive counter-attacker, it has to face Johnson at the top.

San Jose earthquakes

They have been great against Vancouver and have broken several records, but let's focus on Wednesday's LAFC game. What lessons can Quakes learn from drubbing?

The obvious answer is "stay more compact". LAFC dragged San Jose and created a ton of space between the lines. San Jose was naive to play so aggressively and let LAFC have so much space on the court. The usual answer is to abandon the line of confrontation in the middle of the field – that's what most people do when they have defense problems.

But it's clearly in the DNA of the Quakes to be aggressive, so I'd be surprised if they stop trying to put pressure on their opponents. As a result, their four backs must be brave and stay higher. It happened that the two attackers support and that the last four are always 10 yards from the middle. It's too much space and it takes too much time for the last four to make their way into the space between the lines. Every time you watch big press teams around the world, their supporters are so high. It's almost shocking to see and cause anxiety just to watch. It's quite horrible as a defender to stay so high, but you have to be brave. The whole plan depends on it. If you overcompensate the space behind you, you are grilled by the space in front of you … then you still have to get back to your goal. Example: the 4-0 defeat against LAFC. If the last four could fly five meters forward when their attackers support, it would make a huge difference.

Seattle Sounders

Brian Schmetzer did a great job on Friday night. He entered the game with a clear plan. He started Jordy Delem in the middle of the field, moved Cristian Roldan to the wing and dropped his confrontation line in the middle of the field. They did not feel the need to control the ball; they controlled the space and trusted Jordan Morris, Nico Lodeiro and Raul Ruidiaz to score goals. I would be interested to see it go forward if Schmetzer stays true to this mentality or only uses it for a tough match to reset after a winless series.

Sporting Kansas City

The sport has been different these past two weeks. They used the most athletic Felipe Gutierrez in the defensive center instead of Ilie Sanchez and played more direct. In the last two games, they have decreased their number to:

  • Total number of passes attempted
  • Percentage of success
  • Time per possession
  • Percent pass
  • Percentage of passes to come

But they looked solid in their 4-5-1 compact form, limited their mistakes and had two wins to return to the playoff race.

Toronto FC

The training decision of the weekend goes to Greg Vanney. With his season online, he has benched one of his stars, Alejandro Pozuelo. Toronto needed a kick in the ass … since April 2018. I understand why Vanney waited so long to make this statement, but it had to happen. No level of talent makes up for lack of concentration. The last resort for a coach, and the biggest bet, is to keep a star on the score sheet. Nothing allows a group of players to feel more alert than to question their work. Vanney kept the card in his pocket until he could not wait.

The next question for Vanney will be to configure her puzzle. Assuming that Pozuelo returns to the team and that Toronto looks better in the second half with him on the field, I would say he has to play by himself. He is more of a Victor Vazquez than a Sebastian Giovinco; Pozuelo prefers to float in the space created by others. Jozy Altidore needs someone busy next to him so he does not have to occupy the whole center.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC

What is odd in Vancouver's nightmarish season is that a group of players has intensified and demonstrated its value. Derek Cornelius and Doneil Henry have both taken a step forward this year; Ali Adnan and Inbeom Hwang seem to be good beginners in MLS; Yordy Reyna has revived some of the excitement that surrounds it. Andy Rose showed that he could be a valuable player in the team. Maxime Crepeau is among the top 10 goalkeepers. and Theo Bair has real promises. I feel better about six or seven members of this team than I did about Minnesota or San Jose last year.

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