Friday, May 18, 2018

This Is What You Need: Left Coast

I actually meant to start this mini-series last Monday, but that's just how busy work and family matters have been. Let's get straight to business, which is picking that one particular thing every MLS club requires to raise their game. Everybody can use something to improve, right?

Some of them are obvious, some are a battle royale of problems. In the first of five posts, we'll lead with the teams way out west. Starting in the south to work our way up the coast...

LA Galaxy

This is one of those questions that has a buffet of good answers to choose from - a calm back line marshal (seriously, though), Kamara back in front of goal, some health, some luck, yada yada. In the end, though, the decision wasn't all that hard. The Galaxy need a formation change. But which one?

It shouldn't be that hard to score with Kamara and Zlatan together in the area. With Feltscher out for a dew more months, it seems clear they need to work on a 3-5-2 set. When's Gio dos Santos returns, this formation seems like the best bet to get him in concert with the star strike duo.

His brother can shuttle and Kitchen can stay at the gate. There's a variety of ways they can go with the wingback spots. It may not be the most ideal shape for Alessandrini or Boateng, but Sigi most needs to figure out the attack system and stop leaking goals (not necessarily in that order). The 3-5-2 could do that, at least until everyone is fit.

LAFC

Easy. They need a destroyer type, preferably one who can actually pass. Can they send Will Ferrell and Magic Johnson over to charm a guy like Monconduit into joining as a TAM player? If so, look out.

San Jose

Hmm. How do I put this? I really feel like the new boss is not getting the best out of the group he has. Yeah... that was it. Not to sound like a broken record, but this team is in the wrong shape.
  • When the Quakes run an empty bucket: 1-5-1, 14 goals allowed
  • When they run any other formation: 1-0-2, five GA
Yeah, they are still no Sporting KC at the back. But it's enough added defense for their attack to keep up. And they'd likely get stingier after a few weeks running either a 4-2-3-1 or a 3-5-2.

More than anything, they need Jungwirth back in defense and two midfielders sharing responsibility for guarding the back line. Either of these formations allows the Quakes to utilize Yueill so they can better control games.

Really, the decision on which set to run comes down to how they want to position the attack. There are pros and cons to each, but I might slightly lean toward the 4-2-3-1 to A) get Vako closer to goal & B) refrain from asking too much defensively of wide guys like Eriksson.

Portland

First let me say that I don't believe success is sustainable in this Christmas tree formation they've been running. It's just not ideal for their player pool. That, however, is not my pick for their main need.

Now, don't get me wrong. Cristian Paredes has improved in recent games, and he has a ton of potential. Still, he is not really a defensive midfielder, and this team suffers mightily when Chara and/or Guzman is unavailable.

The Timbers have yet to have both appear in the same game this season, and (if fit) Guzman will be away on World Cup duty for at least six weeks. Olum has not fared well filling in. So yeah, what I'm saying is they need to pick up a solid #6 if they want to regain the ability to carry play through the midfield injury spells that just kill their mojo.

Seattle

We could certainly talk all day about who they should sign for the attack this summer. I've done it, too. Nevertheless, the over-riding fact remains that this squad needs to have some semblance of fitness for key cogs to compete.

The Sounders are all of nine games into their season and they've already lost 37 man-games among key starters. It just ain't right, man.


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Tomorrow: The beasts of the East.




- Greg Seltzer

2 comments:

Jester said...

You know, there's another team on the west coast. Unless yourey going to put the Canadian teams in their own group.
Is it just me or does it seem like the gap between the teams that have their act together and the teams that don't is more pronounced this season? There doesn't seem to be as many in between.

Greg Seltzer said...

Yeah, I recently did an MLSS bit on the five most improved teams by points-per-game over last season, and four of them were playoff teams in 2017. Three of those were in the East. And that divide is not exacerbated by the injury-hit early slides of Seattle and Toronto FC, who have almost exclusively been playing teams that missed the postseason last year.