Friday, May 18, 2012

In defense of Lahoud for Califf

It's a solid move. More obviously so for Chivas USA than the Union, but I'm not joking.

Danny Califf is undoubtedly more decorated and established than Mike Lahoud. He's a proven leader and a native SoCal-ite that will certainly add composure to a back line that's coughed up seven goals in the last three games.

But Philadelphia already has a decent defense. It's a defense not built from astounding defensive talent, just a team that knows how to keep its shape, clog passing lanes and otherwise make it pretty difficult to score. 

Peter Nowak's biggest problems lie in getting his team to meaningfully hold onto the ball. The defenders aren't bad and the team's defensive tactics aren't either. And while I can't say that Lahoud will immediately improve the team's possession game, in fact I doubt it, Califf was not a man known for his passing game.

The move still surprised me and it could cost Nowak his job, yet when you look at how Philly defends it starts to make some sense. Nowak's team works with shape over skill. 

The Union still need help elsewhere, but they did not lose anywhere near as much as one might think.

- Jacob Klinger


Phil McCracken said...

Unless there's another future move lined up post trade, I couldn't disagree with you more. The Union have one natural center back on the roster (Valdes) and two outside backs who can fill in here (Williams and Pajoy).

Even with Califf, the Union were terrible at defending set pieces and I tend to think that this will only get worse down the line. The team is physically small and that was never more apparent in the play-offs when Houston bullied them off the park.

Williams is a very good right back and does some admirable work in central defense. However, he now has to mark the other team's 2nd best player in the air and while he's got great hops, he's just giving up too much size in these battles. Also, Valdes now has to mark the other team's main aerial threat and he's giving up a lot in the size arena as well.

This move was made for non-soccer reasons and the Union today are a worse team post trade. Nowak has turned over the roster so much (15 roster changes since the end of last year) that they could almost be considered an expansion team again. Not to mention the constant changing of line-ups and tactics. How can you be successful running a team like that?

He's killing the golden goose in Philly and the fan base will start to rebel if the club continues down this path.

Jacob Klinger said...

I'm not about to try and read Nowak's mind. That's just dangerous. But soccer logic would dictate that he's not done wheeling and dealing. You also have to consider that Califf's base salary is four times more than Lahoud's and that Philly got allocation money. The last card has yet to be played there.

The fan base is already pissed and understandably so. But the club got a decent prime-age defender at a quarter of the price of a good defender in decline.

Emotionally it sucks, but tactically and financially it ain't half bad.

Phil McCracken said...

They had better come out of this stronger financially since the Union essentially traded a starter in an area where they have no depth for a bench player whose best position is where the Union is at its strongest (outside backs and midfield).

To me, unless they make another move for a central defender, this doesn't make any sense from a tactical perspective for the reasons above.

I'm not into the whole emotional aspect of it as I wasn't a huge Califf fan to begin with, but from a sporting perspective, the team is weaker today.

Will Parchman said...

The decision was technically out of Nowak's control, but it doesn't bode well for his man management reputation that players are leaving left and right for all kinds of reasons. I'd like to think, without knowing the intimate particulars, that if the situation was right in Philly that Califf would've stayed. It might've been something else, but I'm willing to bet that Nowak had a little something to do with Califf's departure.

I'll say this: Nowak is sometimes unfairly characterized, but this reputation he has for churning the soil until there's no grass left isn't 100 percent unwarranted, either.

dikranovich said...

lets not kid ourselves, nowak is polish. no offense!!! eastern europeans are usually pretty stubborn.

Jacob Klinger said...

For what it's worth - might be nothing - Nowak apparently cooperated when Califf pleaded not to send him to Toronto.

Jay said...

That might not have anything to do with Califf, however. It could be as simple as Chivas offering up more goodies in the trade than Toronto was willing to, and Philly taking the best deal. Nothing has been said about that aspect of the deal other than that there were offers from both teams.

Jacob Klinger said...