Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Gall of this guy...

Last week, we found out that Sundsvall winger Romain Gall could in fact stop scoring. Today, we learned that he can also start right back up. He now has five league goals (to go with a pair of cup strikes), which is good for fifth in the Allsvenskan.








- Greg Seltzer

Thursday, May 24, 2018

This Is What You Need: The Question Marks

This grouping gathers the ones who are pretty good but have a glaring problem together with those who are the 11-man embodiments of an enigma. I've listed them in order of predicted point total finish.

Orlando City

After starting the season in a selection crisis, the Lions have fallen into place piece by piece. They even play well in losses, now. What could send them into the category of East beast? They really need Spector back to lead that back line. It runs extremely hot-and cold without him, and, well, so shall their results.

Houston

This is another team that allows too many goals to stand among the top contenders. And like Orlando City, the Dynamo are desperately needing a return from a key structural piece. In March, Houston thought Cabezas would miss a couple of weeks with a quad knock; he hasn't dressed since 17 goals in the nine games since. His return would both shield the defense and allow the other midfielders more license to spur attack.

Vancouver

I could go on and on about how Carl Robinson just can't seem to make up his mind on how best to man and arrange the starting line-up. Really, I could. It's causing this team problems. But the hard, cold reality is they need to find a center back from somewhere with Kendall Waston headed off to Russia soon. Actually, they need when he's available, too.

New England

Count me in the gang that can't figure the Revs out yet. I feel like they have holes in their game, their line-ups, their approach - but they're getting results anyway. For now, that is. It could all tumble down if they don't show more. And I'm not yet sure how that should happen. Ask me again after they play Atlanta and the Red Bulls back-to-back next week.

Chicago

Duh. You all know what I'm gonna say. Open the wallet and seal a deal. A #10 for July 10th. If the Fire really want a veteran star freebie, they should chase Honda before Torres.

Real Salt Lake

Oh geez, which do I choose? What are they crying out for most? There's a serious issue on each line of their 4-3-3. But hey, Baird has been a bit of a revelation. If he was their second most productive striker, that would be grand. Of course, RSL has no open international slot. They do have Ortuño, who has yet to shine in MLS. Petke & Co. best get right to the job of figuring out how to make him productive. Even if that means switching formation to cover their lack of speed in midfield.




- Greg Seltzer

Monday, May 21, 2018

This Is What You Need: The Ol' Reliables

In this edition of me telling MLS coaches and GM's how to improve their side (fun times!), we will only cover three clubs. But these are three of the most consistently competitive teams around, and each is looking good again this season.

Over the last decade, today's trio has combined to chalk up two league crowns, another pair of MLS Cup appearances, three Supporters Shields and four US Open Cup titles. Not too shabby, boys... but we can do even better.

Columbus
It's too easy to simply point out that the Crew really need to start making up for the offensive production that went to Orlando with Meram. Everybody and their mother knows this. They have an international slot and could buy down a DP, but it might not be so easy to recruit with their future home address currently up in the air. I don't have an easy answer, but maybe a few suggestions for the guys already on staff. Move Santos to the left to play as more of a natural winger, give Hansen more time on the right and Grella can be the super sub. Martinez does a lot of nice things, but he has to take part in at least some goal plays to keep drawing so many minutes.

FC Dallas

Oh, the Toros Tejanos could absolutely score more. But the real issue here over the last couple seasons has been a lack of proper game management when it comes to sealing points. They leaked late result-worsening goals six times last year, and have already suffered three second half equalizers this season. As above, I have no great and magical solution to offer here. But they really need to be more mindful with the ball - and, sure, more lethal on the counter - when playing with a lead past halftime. They're giving the defense too many lapses to scramble over with too small a margin for error.

Sporting KC

Take a wild guess. Despite the team's torrid offensive start, there is still one Dwyer-sized hole in this group. And it's starting to show. Sporting has managed but four goals in their four contests, after ringing up 20 (!) in the seven before that. Yes, they lead the league in shot attempts, but still have only two goals from central strikers. I know that this bit has other MLS destinations suggested for Quinones and Cavallini, but either would likely get super fat playing atop this side.




- Greg Seltzer

Matt Finish

In what may be his last game for loan side Vitesse, Matt Miazga helped earn them a Europa League invite for the fall by scoring in their final tie-clinching 2-1 win at FC Utrecht on Sunday night. The well-buried header accounted for his fourth goal of the season, easily a new career best for the US defender.







- Greg Seltzer

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Young Americans

Caretaker USMNT boss Dave Sarachan has summoned 22 players to camp to prepare for next Monday's friendly with Bolivia in Philly. I really can't have complaints about who was called on this type of roster (though I will have plenty to share if this squad ends up playing another old-style 4-4-2) . It's just a shame that guys like Amon and Saief are on the mend, and must miss out.

G - Alex Bono* (Toronto FC), Bill Hamid (FC Midtjylland), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge)

D - Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Matthew Olosunde (Manchester United), Erik Palmer-Brown* (Manchester City), Antonee Robinson* (Everton), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)

M - Joe Corona (Tijuana), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Alejandro Guido* (Tijuana), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Keaton Parks* (Benfica)

A - Julian Green (Stuttgart), Andrija Novakovich (Reading), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Rubio Rubin (Tijuana), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain), Josh Sargent* (Werder Bremen)




- Greg Seltzer

Saturday, May 19, 2018

This Is What You Need: Beastie Boys

Some may argue that a couple other teams should be mentioned along the mighty best of the East, but I'm limiting this group to proven MLS Cup contenders.

Atlanta United

Yes, the Five Stripes are generally riding a steamroller early in the season. And yet, one couldn't help but worry about their postseason prospects if they don't replace the offseason sale of Carmona. I've been in agreement with preaching MLS colleague Matt Doyle all along, Atlanta still could make great use of a stingy starting-quality defensive midfielder. They should also get on Monconduit's trail (if they aren't already).

NYCFC

Toronto FC's plight has proven that no team can have too many strong players around the pitch, but barring a similar crisis, the Pigeons don't really have a screaming need anywhere on the roster. What they do need is another approach to hold in their pocket for those rare, and often important occassions when a high press (hello, Red Bulls!) is giving them absolute fits.

New York Red Bulls

Unfortunately, what Jesse Marsch's side is lacking cannot be acquired in a transfer window, promoted from the reserve side or even drilled over the regular season. The only thing that can really bring this team to a new level is getting the job done when the chips are on the knockout line. They simply have to earn it in the playoffs (and/or the US Open Cup final).

Toronto FC

Yep, I'm in the crowd that has not wavered in listing the champs in this group. There should be little doubt that something approximating their regular selection would end a lot of the tactical shuffling and bring a rocket boost up the table. That core group has lost 56 man games to injuries through 10 games, and another 20 or so to bans and Champions League breathers. So yeah, I firmly believe they just need a big dose of health.



- Greg Seltzer