New England tops the MLS PWP Team of the Week 6 / by Drew Olsen

Those living up near the northeast coast of America should be pretty chuffed with that result this weekend against Houston - an early season defensive-minded team came in to visit, and the Revolution re-educated Kinnear and his Dynamo on what a defensive-minded team really looks like.

I'll get to that in a minute, but before doing so, my link to what PWP is all about and then my recap on my PWP-Pick-List for last week and how the end results shook out.  In the future, look for the Pick-List in its own post.

Here's what I said in my "PWP-Pick-List" and then just beneath the outcome:

  • Real Salt Lake at Philadelphia - Given the PWP pedigree of Salt Lake I'm not seeing Philadelphia win this game; as for the addition of Wenger and how he influences things - hard to say. In my view it is more likely Edu and/or Okugo lend more value than Wenger at this time. RSL wins...
  • Philadelphia drew with Real Salt Lake on a late equalizer by Maurice Edu as both he AND Wenger added value.... noted.    (Miss)

 

  • Colorado at Toronto - Tough one here but I am going with a win to Colorado. It's early yet and the Rapids remain a strong attacking team, even on the road (4 points on the road already). That coupled with numerous injuries in Toronto I see the Rapids taking 3 points against the depleted Reds.  (Hit)
  • Colorado beat a depleted Toronto 1-nil...

 

  • Chicago at Montreal - Truly an interesting game between Yallop's style and Klopas's style. I had originally considered this might end in a draw but after thinking a bit more about how weak the PWP Defense was in Chicago last year (under Klopas) and how weak the Montreal defense is looking this year (under Klopas) I think Chicago takes 3 points.
  • Chicago and Amarikwa got a draw - if Quincey isn't on your Fantasy team he should be... (Miss)

 

  • Houston at New England - That red card really hurt Houston and perhaps Brunner? gets the head nod to replace Horst. As for the Revolution - they have a solid defense but can they score? I think Houston can get at least one goal up north - I'm just not seeing the same for New England... Houston wins.
  • New England scored two goals and Houston were shutout - is anyone surprised the New England defense did so well?  If you are looking for a 'team' Fantasy in defense you may consider the Revolution as a good place to focus; I know I've moved on from Houston...  That'll teach me to go against what I usually believe - defense will win you a game more often than attacking... (Miss)

 

  • New York at DC United - A real early test for both teams. The defense for New York really hasn't been that good and DC are beginning to take shape. New York wins if Sekagya and Olave pair up as center backs with Eckersley returning to partner Miller as the fullbacks. If Kimura starts at right back I think DC United wins. Rumor has it Miller is injured - does that put Convey as the left fullback? If so don't forget the 4-1 loss to Vancouver with Convey playing left fullback...
  • DC United took three points - Kimura started and New York lost - granted that loss isn't directly down to Kimura as Alexander blew his man to man coverage on the far post of that corner ball combination - but - Eckersley is stronger... (Hit)

 

  • Seattle at FC Dallas - Another tough road match for the Sounders coming off a lucky tie against Portland last week. In all fairness the Timbers dominated large parts of that game and they exposed the weak center of Seattle. But FC Dallas also have a weak center - this could be another 3-3 draw but the edge goes to Seattle with Traore returning as center-back in place of a very weak defending Anibaba.
  • Seattle beat Dallas - Traore played and Dempsey got a brace - and no I'm not going to say he got a 'due..'   (Hit)

 

  • Chivas at Portland - Can I really opine anything different than 3 points to Portland? I'll put it this way: if they don't get three points against a very disorganized defense like Chivas there may be major issues in Soccer City USA.
  • Chivas came from behind as open space came available late on... the defense continues to be an issue in Portland... (Miss)

 

  • Vancouver at Los Angeles - I'm not sure anybody beats LA in LA this year. LA wins.
  • LA took three points... the diamond continues to dazzle in Stub-hub with Keane scoring the lone goal. (Hit) 

 

  • Columbus at San Jose - Challenging home game for San Jose and they need three points against a strong Eastern Conference team. For now, I don't see them doing that regardless of how many crosses they put into the box. Most likely a draw here...
  • Columbus got goal 1 and San Jose, through Salinas to Wondolowski, got the draw... (Hit)

All told - in my maiden pix for week six - I was five out of nine... with three of my four losses coming via 2nd half equalizers by the teams I picked to lose - bollocks...

By the way - in case you missed it before here is a link to my PWP introduction...

Now for this weeks PWP - here's the Composite Index for Week 6 (only):

Observations...

No question here that New England were the top performing team this week. A 2-nil shutout (at home) should be a warning to the rest of the Eastern Conference that Jay Heaps has his team beginning to perform at its best.

What's really good to see about this team is how well the fullbacks integrated into the attack without forgetting that the first job is defense.  In a league where I think defense is considered a second-class citizen, the Revolution don't play that way... for me a welcomed site.  More to follow...

A late surprise for me was seeing how well Philadelphia performed this past weekend against a very strong Real Salt Lake - granted it was the 90+ minute mark before Edu equalized, but there's never a wrong time to score - there's only a wrong time to give up a goal.

The LA Galaxy got the expected result against Vancouver - the overall outputs from LA this game were just stunning... they offered up 617 passes; more than 500 of them completed with over 100 of those within the final third - I didn't watch the game but it is likely the Vancouver defense was pulled and pushed and poked to exhaustion.

That being said, the achilles heel for Vancouver last year was their defense - although they lost 1-nil they did a pretty good job all things considered - so the result didn't go in their favor but they should take some positives away from that game in how well they maintained the LA attack around that lone goal by Keene.

On the flip side - Houston started the season quite strong and it is likely Kinnear will get them firing on all cylinders again.

What was missing - at least in my view - was David Horst; that red card was double punishment for the Dynamo last week and his return should bring back a more solid back four.

With that said - and seeing how things continue to develop - I have begun my swap out my Dynamo defenders on my Fantasy team - I'll begin to rotate in a couple of New England players and maybe someone from DC United?  More to follow on that thought in my Cumulative PWP Index article later this week.

Moving on to my PWP Attacking team of the week...

Observations:

A surprise for some I'm sure - the winner this week is a team that drew 2-2 - while Seattle and Clint Dempsey traveled to FC Dallas and took three points... why?

For me it's down to the tenor of the overall attack - here's the differences (by the basic numbers) between those two teams this week - Philadelphia had the edge in possession (~55% to ~50%); their overall passing accuracy was ~76% compared to ~74%; while Seattle penetrated more often (23% to 20%) and put more shots on goal (46% vs 15%), the Union converted their two shots on goal into two goals scored (100% to 50% for Seattle)...

In a few words that means Seattle had more quantity in creating chances within the final third while the Union had more quality with their fewer chances... this has been the norm for many teams this past year-and-a-half within my PWP analysis - quality will beat quantity - not just in the statistics of the game, but in the regular run of play in the game.... it's always good to see statistics support what the eye sees.

Bottom line here though isn't the intent to minimze the success of Seattle - they took three points and Dempsey had another stellar game - but when looking at the comprehensive view of the game - more of the overall PWP parts of the game were executed better by Philadelphia than Seattle.

Other thoughts - Real Salt Lake performed in the top ten again as did FC Dallas and LA Galaxy - Portland edged its way into the 7th position this week and with that draw to Chivas it's a double-edged sword for Porter - the Timbers continue to improve in the overall attack - but they also continue to lack focus for a full 90+ minutes in defense.

How long before we see the Timbers begin to shake the trees to see what falls out for a defensive addition in the summer transfer window - perhaps another double-edged sword was the inclusion of Michael Harrington into the USMNT training scheme - has that reward created an issue for Harrington?

Both he and Kah were directly accountable for that poor man-marking in the box against Chivas; a mistake for Harrington that compounds his schoolboy mistake on closing down Neagle last week, which gave Neagle the room to turn and put in that devastating cross that saw Dempsey bring Seattle within one goal a week ago.

The PWP Attacking Player of the Week was...

Observations:

It's six weeks in and the top Attacking PWP Player of the week is another midfielder - go figure. Two years ago I opined that the most influential players in attack should come from the midfield, given their increased touches on the ball and their overall vision of the game from the center of the pitch.

Duly noted - Maurice Edu got a late equalizer and the Union fought back for a hard won draw against (IMO) the best team in MLS.

Evidence of Maurice's two way influence is above - enough said - this midfield acquisition continues to help the Union etch their place as a top team in the Eastern Conference, and grabbing a late point helps them sustain that Playoff vision.

On to the Defending Team of the Week... my favorite part of this game.

Observations:

I'll offer the Index a bit later; for now here's how New England's opponent (Houston) performed in the six steps of my PWP Index process...

Note the final three steps in the overall attack mounted by Houston - only 13% of their overall penetration generated a shot taken, and none of those shots were on goal. Consequently, none of those shots got past Shuttleworth--pretty stingy if you ask me. Their passing accuracy was below average, but with an average amount of possession.

If you had to paint a picture of a team that defends across the entire pitch, it's results like these that you want to see from your opponent's attack (i.e how well your team defense performs in controlling the opponent's attack).

Here's the overall Defending PWP Index for all 19 teams...

Observations:

Consistency begins to show for many teams this year - a welcome surprise for Olsen is that his team is beginning to shut down their opponents. D.C. United comes in 4th place this week against a very strong New York Red Bulls attacking side (at least they were last year).

Colorado traveled to Toronto and did well--aye the Reds had some injuries, but every team this year will experience players who get injured or miss a game through disciplinary reasons. Toronto got edged out by an improving Colorado.

On the tail end was FC Dallas, an unusual spot for them this year. The own goal, as well as the brace by Dempsey, speaks volumes - yet as we saw on the Attacking side of PWP, Seattle were also pretty strong across the entire pitch -- the center of FC Dallas defense remains and issue and Keel did not add value in pairing up with Hedges.

Now for my PWP Defending Player of the Week...

PWP Defending Player of the Week 6

Observations:

I like fullbacks who add to the attack, but I love fullbacks who defend first - there's a reason these guys are in defense; it's to stop the opponent first.

Overall, Alston did a superb job in playing his role; he not only scored, but he was also five for five in throw-ins within the final third - you'd be surprised - but at least four teams this week couldn't complete over 70% of their throw-ins within their attacking third... never take a throw-in for granted.

Another storyline here is that Alston continues to work through very difficult health issues from the past - showing concentration and doing his job to support his team translates to strong character. In a country where I think good fullbacks are not the norm, it is good to see Kevin have a great game!

In closing...

Next up will be my PWP Pick-List for Week 7 followed by my PWP Cumulative Indices and associated thoughts. For now know that the top team in each conference is not the top team in my overall PWP Cumulative Index - lest we forget not everyone has played six games yet.

All the best, Chris

You can follow all my PWP analysis through twitter: @chrisgluckpwp