Setting the Table: Week 11 by Eric Walcott

Welcome to Setting the Table, where each week we take some time to focus on the best chance creators in MLS from the last weekend. If you want to see the best chances that were wasted check out Lowered Expectations. Here we focus on chances that ended with the ball in the back of the net.

#5 Bradley Wright-Phillips to Daniel Royer, NYRB, 5th minute, 0.387 xG
Passes in sequence: 1

Read More

Lowered Expectations: Week 11 by Harrison Crow

Welcome to Lowered Expectations, the week eleven edition! Each week, we go about posting chalkboards and GIFs of the weekend’s best open-play shot attempts which did not quite live up to expectations (and rarely do we update this paragraph). We look at each one and not only evaluate the results, but also the process leading to them.

#5 - Zlatan Ibrahimovic, LA Galaxy, 61st minute, 0.426 expected goals
Assisted by: Romain Alessandrini
Passes in sequence: 4

Read More

Chalk Talk: Unpacking the Three Course Mother's Day Feast of Soccer Games by Jason Poon

Last Sunday, MLS treated us on paper with a fabulous looking triple header for all the Mom’s out there. (Happy belated Mother’s Day to all you ASA moms!) The day started slowly with the 100th meeting between Portland and Seattle which sounded like a very promising appetizer but ultimately fell short of expectations. Thankfully, things quickly got better with the main course featuring Orlando and Atlanta, and we were treated to a delightful nightcap from LAFC and NYCFC.

Read More

Expected Narratives: Sleepless in Seattle by Ian L.

xN is our weekly look at what you can expect to read, write, and discuss about Major League Soccer this week. We take a look at each prospective narrative and rate it based on its strength and whether or not it has any actual merit.

Last week we talked a good bit about Gregg Berhalter’s ability to “whisper” to forwards, and the second publish was hit, I remember distinctly thinking to myself, “Gyasi Zardes is going to score a hat trick this week and it will make my less than enthusiastic endorsement of that narrative look stupid very quickly.” Well, he only scored two goals, but nonetheless it vaulted him to the top of the Golden Boot standings and gosh darn if I didn’t feel a little foolish. Such is the risk in writing things like this and it’s always important to remember that each match brings new information with it and at this point in the season, one match is enough to  swerve a narrative.

Read More

Kendall Waston, the Vancouver Offense and Defense by Harrison Crow

The last few years the Vancouver Whitecaps haven’t exactly optimized their attack. They’ve been a cross happy team, ranking in the top third of crossing attempts back to 2015. Still, they have usually not possessed the attacking third talent to regularly win those attempted crosses.

Octavio Rivero, Masato Kudo, Erik Hurtado, Giles Barnes and Fredy Montero have not exactly been the dominant aerial ball winners the organization has needed. In fact, none have even a career aerial win percentage of 50%. Basically, they’re not especially good at jumping up and heading the ball either towards the goal or in a manner where their team maintains possession. Unsurprisingly, this is also the primary tactic in which Carl Robinson, Vancouver's head coach, has chosen to create goals and win games.

Read More

Little Things from Week 11 by Harrison Hamm

Welcome to Little Things, a weekly look at some of the nuances that occur in MLS games. Technical and tactical aspects will be looked at to better evaluate players and teams on a larger scale, and of course statistics will be put to use.

Here’s our inaugural analysis, including an example of how not to press by Minnesota United, an interesting set piece fad, and an impressive build-up by Orlando City:

Read More

What Makes the Red Bulls' High Press Work? by Joseph Lowery

Jesse Marsch’s New York Red Bulls play a style unlike any other team in Major League Soccer. They employ a frenzied, but organized high press that is a staple of Red Bull teams all over the soccer world. RBNY usually set up in a somewhat fluid 4-2-3-1. Bradley Wright-Phillips leads the line, often occupying the space between opposing center backs and shrinking the field. Right behind BWP sits Argentinian playmaker Kaku. Flanking Kaku is usually a combination of Florian Valot, Daniel Royer, and Derrick Etienne Jr.; these wingers are tasked with pressuring the ball in wide areas and occasionally dropping to help the pair of deeper midfielders. Who are those deeper mids? USMNT starlet Tyler Adams and fellow American Sean Davis are instructed to patrol the entire center of the field, acting as a pair of disrupters, intercepting passes, marking opposing playmakers, and shutting down attacks.

Read More

Marcos Ureña, the unsung Hero of LAFC by Kristan Henage

Bob Bradley is precise with his words. "We knew when we picked him [Marcos Ureña] up that we had a player that, around the goal, is sharp," Bradley said in pre-season. "His qualities are valued and he feels comfortable.”

On first viewing, Bradley’s words sound like anything you’d expect from a head coach, especially one trying to motivate a forward with a career record of one goal in five games (apart from internationally where he’s at one in four).

Read More

Setting the Table: Week 10 by Eric Walcott

Welcome to Setting the Table, where each week we take some time to focus on the best chance creators in MLS from the last weekend. If you want to see the best chances that were wasted, check out Lowered Expectations. Here we focus on chances that ended with the ball in the back of the net.

Read More

Lowered Expectations: Week 10 by Harrison Crow

Welcome to Lowered Expectations, the week nine edition! Each week, we go about posting chalkboards and GIFs of the weekend’s best open-play shot attempts that did not quite live up to expectations (and rarely do we update this paragraph). We look at each one and not only evaluate the results, but also the process that led to them.

Read More