Welcome to Lowered Expectations, week 21 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 - Christian Ramirez, Minnesota United, 71st minute, 0.457 expected goals Read More
Assisted by: Darwin Quintero
Keeper: Matt Turner
Passes in sequence: 3
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
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
The Seattle Sounders have been to eight straight playoffs, two straight MLS Cups. They even won one of those cups, despite (roughly) accruing a combined 0.5 expected goals between BOTH matches. 2018 projects to be another successful season for a team with talent from stem to sturn, but with back to back off-seasons of only six weeks for a team whose first choice eleven run north of the MLS age median, there is plenty of inherited risk. Read More
One is tempted - given the Seattle Sounders' dramatic recovery of a seemingly lost 2016 season to seize a playoff berth, and, ultimately, the MLS Cup - to take those last 14 games (plus the playoffs) as the best sign of what the team has to offer in the coming season. But with new acquisitions bolstering the bench, players developing in key positions, others returning from injury, and still others adjusting adjusting to the league, the team could easily see improvements over the championship campaign. Designated Player Clint Dempsey was available for only four games of Seattle's stretch run thanks to a heart condition, but is now cleared to play. Brad Evans struggled with injuries throughout the last half of the season. Young starters Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan are a year older and more experienced. Left back Joevin Jones is entering his physical prime. Even if the Sounders have not put the dire days fully behind them, this is a team that should expect to make the playoffs and contend in the postseason. Read More
It’s fair to say that the Sounders are one of the most despised team in MLS. But strip away the fans, Alonso’s crunching tackles, the cheeky Dempsey smirk, the league moves that “just so happen” to coincide with things going the Sounders way (as *if* by magic!) and what do you have?
The answer is simple: a team that makes smart business decisions and continually puts their organization in the best possible position to consistently win games.
But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. More after the jump. Read More
World Cup qualifying review: USMNT rebounds in opening weekend Read More
The USMNT opened World Cup qualification for Russia with two solid, if unspectacular performances. They started with their easiest match of this round with a 6-1 home win over St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The second match was the most challenging, a road game against Trinidad and Tobago, and resulted in a 0-0 draw. The goalless result in a non-friendly was the first for the United States since their World Cup game against Germany last summer, a run of nine games. It was their seventh clean sheet overall in that same time.
If you were to read through the headlines this morning, though I'm not sure I'd advise doing that, you'll likely find a good share of articles that talk about the United States' inability to keep the ball or build possession to penetrate Brazil's defense and create goal scoring chances. Others will mention a lack a terse focus for a back four that surrendered multiple goals that should probably have never happened. The rest will consist of sharp lashings that end with the inevitable and deserved questioning of leadership within the hierarchy of US soccer. Read More
The United States still has not played close to their best soccer in the 2015 Gold Cup, but they still secured first place in Group A with a 1-0 win over Haiti in their second Group match. After Haiti’s 1-1 draw against Panama you got the suspicion this game would be tighter than expected, but it was even tighter than that. Haiti battled the entire match in impressive fashion and earned chances, but in the end the quality in their finishes abandoned them. The U.S. ultimately scored the winning goal in the 47th minute from their only shot taken inside the 18-yard box - a one-time strike from Clint Dempsey off a nice back pass from Gyasi Zardes. This is yet another case of take the win and move on, but Klinsmann has to be concerned that the team is unable to control opponents this early in the tournament. Read More
The USMNT held off a confident and gritty Honduras team and started Group A play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 2-1 victory. Jurgen Klinsmann’s side was not sharp, holding less than 50% of possession against a team that was sitting back in a 5-4-1 formation, but they earned two goals off set pieces that found the magnificent head of Clint Dempsey, and broke up enough counterattacks by Honduras to survive.
The U.S.A.’s struggle with possession was part Klinsmann, part poor play and, of course, part Honduras. The troubles started tactically with Michael Bradley being placed at the top of the 4-4-2 diamond formation. The usually strong possession link between Kyle Beckerman and Bradley was broken up leaving the shuttling duo of Gyasi Zardes and DeAndre Yedlin to bring it back together. Both players are playing in an unnatural role and are not possession oriented players to begin with. Couple the midfield issue with just 50% pass completion percentage from right back Timmy Chandler and you have the recipe for a choppy performance. Read More