Postseason Preview: NYCFC by ASA Staff

Article by @thedummyrun

Domènec Torrent is a fraud.

Just four months ago, when he took over New York City Football Club midseason from Patrick Vieira, the Catalan coach was hailed as some kind of tactical savant, fresh off a decade seated at the right hand of Pep the Father Almighty and come down to MLS to save us all. He promised to preserve Vieira’s system, which after all was vaguely modeled on Manchester City’s, and to make only incremental adjustments. He promised to compete for trophies—if not this season, okay, maybe next year. He promised us the pinaple would be pretty.

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Postseason Preview: Real Salt Lake by Kevin Minkus

After an encouraging 2017 featuring the emergence of a handful of exciting young talent, Real Salt Lake seemed poised to take a step forward in 2018. Technically they did, by making the playoffs on the last day of the regular season, courtesy of an epic collapse from the LA Galaxy. RSL found themselves in that precarious position thanks to a lot of inconsistency. The team’s stretch run, for example, featured a 6-2 dismantling of the Galaxy followed by a home draw to Minnesota, and a 1-1 tie at Kansas City (maybe RSL’s best performance of the year given the context) followed by two blowout losses to Portland. Those painful ups and downs are what happens when you build a team on still-developing stars - it’s just a part of the process. Here it is in graphical form, with their 4-game rolling xGD:

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Postseason Preview: Atlanta United FC by Harrison Crow

We joke about it. Atlanta has become the Marcia Brady of Major League Soccer and while that’s annoying to most all of us, it’s also not undeserved. This talented team has not only assembled a rare grouping of talent but they’ve been able to build upon their first season and grow to become a giant in this league.

While the narratives are often what they are this is a good opportunity to put into context what Atlanta has truly accomplished and what they are at their bones. A really really good team that has few flaws and has managed to minimize their opponents ability to expose those flaws.

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Postseason Preview: Sporting Kansas City by Harrison Crow

Spoiler alert: Over the course of the last eight seasons, from 2011 to 2018, we’ve collected shot data. We have a lot of spreadsheets. And if you asked me for one specific thing, one stat that stood out among those very large “csv” files, pertaining to Sporting Kansas City, I’d tell you this; Peter Vermes and his teams have a +88 expected goal differential dating back to 2011, not only the highest in Major League Soccer during that span but also the highest by almost 30 goals.

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Postseason Preview: Portland Timbers by Eric Walcott

It would not be inaccurate to describe Gio Saverse’s first season in Portland as a roller coaster. After going winless in their first 5 games, Portland went on a 15 game unbeaten streak in which they got good results but weren’t actually playing great soccer. Playing in a 4-3-2-1, the product was effective but not pretty. Once the streak was broken things went bad in a big way starting a four match skid while getting outscored 10-2 in the process. Since then they’ve seem to have figured some things out, going 5-2-2 down the stretch before resting their starters on the final day.

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Postseason Preview: Seattle Sounders FC by Ian L.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The start to the 2018 campaign was, at best, a complete and utter disaster. Expectations were high for a team that had just made its second consecutive MLS Cup final appearance. You don’t usually see trains derail without gaining any significant speed or momentum, but somehow that’s exactly what happened here.

Jordan Morris, coming off of an injury and a disappointing sophomore campaign looked primed to return to the form that saw him capture Rookie of the Year honors in 2016, instead he suffered another devastating season ending injury and Seattle went from dreams of CCL Glory to that one where you show up to class naked and have to take a final you didn’t study for.

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Postseason Preview: Columbus Crew SC by Eliot McKinley

We saved the Crew! In a way I don’t even care about the playoffs, we saved the Crew! For the last year, the team and the fanbase have been in an existential fight to save the Crew from being ripped ripped from Columbus and moved to Austin. This fact hung over everything in the Columbus Crew universe. No matter how hard I tried to just sit back and enjoy a game, there was always a thought in the back of my mind that this may be the last time the Crew plays [insert team here], or this may be the last Pipa chip I get to see. But you know what? We saved the Crew! It took thousands of man-hours from countless volunteers working together to do it, but we saved the Crew!

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Postseason Preview: DC United by Joseph Lowery

D.C. United are one of the hottest teams in Major League Soccer. In one of the most incredible turnarounds in MLS history, D.C. have gone from Eastern Conference cellar dwellers to clinching a playoff spot. You have to go all the way back to August 26th (two months ago!) to find their last loss. What changed between the struggling D.C. United team we saw at the beginning of the season and the confident, playoff bound team they are now?

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Postseason Preview: RBNY by Cheuk Hei Ho

The New York Red Bulls have enjoyed an excellent season. They are second in the league and have grabbed the highest number of points in the club history. They surely have an eye on the biggest prize.

The Red Bulls are famous for their high pressing approach and frenetic pace. Their chaotic gameplay masks their articulated execution in the offensive phase. The Red Bulls suffer when they don't press, but we don't know what aspect of the game their pressing effects. With the playoffs' seeding almost decided, we can now get a glimpse of how the Red Bulls should approach their potential opponent.

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Postseason Preview: Philadelphia Union by Jared Young

Is this the year that the Philadelphia Union break through? That is the big question on the minds of the Union faithful. In their nine seasons the team has reached the MLS Cup playoffs three times and matched that with three US Open Cup Final appearances, but they’ve collected a record of 0 wins and 6 losses in those pivotal moments. Generally speaking they’ve been outclassed in these games as well, allowing 13 goals and scoring just 4. Are these results just the growing pains of a new franchise or is something else going on?

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