Tagged: Michael Bradley

Gluck: Tea Leaves on Timbers Traveling to Toronto

Is this a likely pre-cursor to the MLS Championship Game?

I’m not sure, but given the wild west, and more predictable east, it isn’t beyond reason to think so.  In preparing my information for your consideration here’s a link to my Total Soccer Index: 

The Science (Attacking): 

Toronto at home compared with Portland on the road.

The part of Possession with Purpose that stands out first is ‘penetration’.

  • Out of an equal amount of possession and passing accuracy for both teams Toronto shows a greater (much greater) edge in penetration; the difference is striking; almost 20% more penetration per total possession than Portland.
  • That considerable advantage in increased penetration leads to a 10% increase in the precision (putting shots on goal) followed by another 10% increase in finishing.
  • Twenty six goals scored at home for Toronto vs seventeen goals scored on the road for Portland.  Not only is Toronto’s quality better; their quantity is too…

The Art:

It is likely Toronto will penetrate more often and offer up more shots than Portland – meaning a reasonable game plan for Portland will be to cede some space up top (maybe after the first 15 minutes) and then look to clog the middle and defensive third of the pitch.. relying solely on the counter-attack to get a goal, or two…

The Science (Defending):

Like the attacking side of the equation; the part of Possession with Purpose that stands out first on how opponents attack against these two teams is penetration.

  • Out of equal amounts of possession and passing accuracy by opponents Portland shows opponents have greater amounts of penetration.
  • Opponents of Portland see a 10% increase in precision (shots on goal) and a 20% increase in finishing (goals scored against) than Toronto opponents.
  • All told opponents have scored 23 goals against Portland, versus just seven for Toronto.
  • Portland opponents see an increase in quality as well as quantity; matching exactly the characteristics of how Toronto attacks at home!

The Art:

It would appear penetration is the key for both teams… therefore, trying to regain possession of the ball in the attacking and middle third will be crucial in order to disable a quick counter-attack when the ball is lost.

As much as it pains me to offer this – Bradley is known for coughing up the ball in the middle third of the pitch – I’d expect both David Guzman or Diego Chara to pressure Bradley whenever he has the ball.

Bottom line:  If Portland scores (at all) they will REALLY need to protect that lead and that includes protecting the wings from overload by Toronto.

Total Soccer Index:  Final Thoughts

If you’re a betting person – it’s likely Toronto win by at least one goal – if not two… but as we’ve seen this year “parity” rules in this league.

And even though the eastern conference seems to show greater strength in possession with purpose competitive conditions of the wild west may better suit Portland in a game like this.

Questions:  It’s the fantastic four of both teams that will make the difference in the run of play.

  • How well will Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore, Victor Vazquez, and Michael Bradley work against a healthy Timbers defense?
  • Can Toronto’s defense control the attacking nous of Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe, and Sebastian Blanco along with the physically brutal aspect Fenando Adi brings as a true #9?

Set pieces win games…

The magic of one player, with one touch, that leads to one strike, and one brilliant goal awaits… as Diego Valeri, like set pieces, wins games too…

Best, Chris

You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp

Re-tweets are not rude… 🙂

USA 2 Portugal 2; final thoughts before moving on…

I won’t go into great detail like others have about the Portugal game; in my view Matthew Doyle has done an excellent job already (read here).

But when you get to his Point #6 stop and watch that initial video a couple of times and then take a read of this article by Simon Borg – also noting Jeremy Schaap”s question to Michael Bradley and “his” error…

Then consider this…

Not 3-4 minutes before that event there was another event that happened, which most considered was a reasonable move, Omar Gonzalez came in for Graham Zusi…  adding a third Centerback and taking away the outside left midfielder.

Hmmm… 

For me a more relevant question would have been to ask Jurgen Klinsmann what the compelling reason was for substituting Graham Zusi for Omar Gonzalez and what was the intended tactical change to help defend the space that Zusi vacated when leaving the pitch?

Why?

Well for me it’s pretty clear that the space Zusi vacated is the space Ronaldo filled and ultimately used to offer up that brilliant cross…

In closing…

I don’t look at the result of this game as being a glass half-full or half-empty.

I’d prefer to replace the original glass with a smaller glass and consider it a full-glass… Why?

For the simple reason that Klinsmann trotted out a single striker line-up that played anything but a traditional single striker system;  I can’t recall one time where Dempsey was isolated.

There were runs by Fabian, Beasley, Bradley and I even recall seeing Jones play a target forward role later in the game.

A truly superb effort, in the overwhelming heat of the Amazon jungle, and for me, a watermark in the history of American Soccer where the Yanks really have landed as a team who can and will alter a style to suit their own particular needs!

Mistake aside on the Gonzalez substitution – Klinsmann has this team working; this team and country belong at the World Cup and belong in the final 16, but the brutal fact about this game is no-one, not any team at any time, is entitled to win – the game must be played.

Just ask Spain, England and the others who have already failed to move on..

Best, Chris