MLS play resumed with a full slate of matches this past weekend after a three-week hiatus due to international matches and U.S. Open Cup contests. As a special bonus, whoever runs the MLS Fantasy game has decided to grant three Free Transfers for this week, allowing Fantasy GM’s everywhere to shuffle their squads as the season nears the half-way point.
The additional Free Transfers present a great opportunity to make significant changes to your squad, without incurring the four-point penalty that exists most weeks when completing more than one Transfer. (Note: all transfers must be made by Wednesday at 8:45pm EST.) In order to take full advantage of this opportunity, it will be important to examine both the short and medium-term prospects of several players, and their clubs.
First and foremost, you have to make sure that you select players whose teams will be playing as much as possible over the summer months. Due to the unbalanced schedule, some clubs will play twice as often as others over the next ten weeks.
Here’s a look at the busiest teams over the next ten rounds:
Montreal Impact (11 games), Toronto FC (11), Houston Dynamo (10), Sporting Kansas City (10), LA Galaxy (10)
Of these teams, several players stick out as excellent options for your fantasy team. Add these guys, and you can keep them in your lineup for the foreseeable future.
Brad Davis – Midfielder, Houston Dynamo ($9.6M)
In classic MLS fashion, the Dynamo were on the road for the first two months of the season as they waited for the grand opening of BBVA Compass Stadium. Now that it is open, the club has a full slate of games at home, and do not have a bye week for the rest of the season. In addition to the loaded schedule, the Dynamo are back to leaning on Davis, the league-leader in assists in 2011, who has finally completed a full recovery from the quadriceps injury he suffered in the playoffs last season. Davis may not score as much as several other elite midfielders, but his consistency will provide your team with solid output every week.
Felipe – Midfielder, Montreal Impact ($7.2M)
The Impact have been a pleasant surprise this season, and Felipe should get a lot of credit, as he has been one of the expansion team’s main attacking catalysts. The Brazilian playmaker took some time to get acquainted to the league, but has found excellent form in the last five weeks. Despite the relatively small sample size, his quality has been apparent, as he’s played a major role in Montreal’s attack in recent weeks, including scoring the first-ever MLS goal at Stade Saputo. Add him now before his price goes through the roof as more people discover him.
Despite a somewhat sloppy performance from the US and an inability to put the home side away, the Yanks left Guatemala with a much needed road point thanks to Clint Dempsey's first half strike. The point leaves the Americans tied for first place with Jamaica after two matches in Group A.
The top two teams in each of the three CONCACAF groups that make up the semi-final round will advance to the final qualifying stage. As a result, the Yanks are in no real danger of not advancing to the final hexagon qualifying round despite the moans and groans you may hear from the fans.
Don't get me wrong I agree with the US fan base. Jurgen Klinsmann and crew better shape up quickly or a slip up in the final qualifying round is not out of the question. If they continue this poor midfield play where the link between them and the front-line is non existent, teams will continue to break them down. Right now I put Canada and the US on the same playing field which isn't a good sign. Mexico isn't even in the conversation as El Tri would mercy the Yanks at the moment.
What We Learned.....
1. 4-3-2-1 Formation Not Optimal
2. Mo Edu Not Getting It Done
3. Still Have Room to Grow, Don't Panic Yet
Analysis of the 3 points to come after the break....
Just when it seemed like the USA had turned the page and Klinsmann’s principals were starting to really click, the Stars and Stripes turned in a rather uninspired performance against their CONCACAF rivals, a 0-0 draw vs. America Junior.
The final 90 minutes before World Cup Qualifying were meant to tie up the lose ends. Instead, it only created more questions.
First, who will pair Bocanegra in the back? Goodson did okay but the centerbacks still got split on a few occasions. Gooch looked behind the pace against Brazil and didn’t do enough for me tonight to cement his place on the back-line.
Secondly, did Castillo do enough to earn a place behind Fabian Johnson on the LB depth chart? His industry was refreshing, he got forward with aplomb and almost scored a wonder goal, but his final ball still needs work and he was lucky the assistant referee thought he saw a foul while the Tijuana defender got caught in possession.
The back-line is the biggest concern of the US team for me and despite all his experience, Cherundolo worries me against fast and clever attackers. At times DeRo looked like Neymar and Marcelo coming down the left hand side vs. Dolo tonight.no comments
The score-line was anything but just as the USA fell 4-1 to a young but very talented Brazil.
The US were on the wrong end of a controversial penalty, fell asleep twice at the back, and perhaps were unlucky the flag didn’t go up on Brazil’s fourth (no, it was onside). Had it not been for a crossbar, some tremendous saves from Brazilian goalkeeper Rafael and maybe one or two calls going their way, however, we would be talking about a very different game.
"Obviously, I think 4-1 was maybe not a score line that was indicative of the overall game," US goal scorer Herculez Gomez said after the game. "I think for long stretches of the game we kind of imposed our will on them and we were unfortunate not to get some [goals]. I think the main difference was that they were clinical in front of goal and we weren’t. If I put some of those away, then it’s different game."
The USA continued playing a high pressure, fluid and dynamic possession game, which they displayed in their victory over Scotland. The fact that the mentality didn’t change in the face of Brazil is a huge step up for this program. Their confidence on the ball was apparent. No better example then Fabian Johnson's juke move on Oscar to work his way out of the corner early in the first half.
With that said though, it was times when the US were too comfortable on the ball.
The penalty, although very unlucky, originated from a sequence in midfield when Michael Bradley was too casual on the ball. Other players were also culpable, as the US need to realize when to play with that utmost confidence and when to move the ball on a bit quicker.
The biggest difference between the Scotland and Brazil match was that Brazil was always going to break the US’ high pressure and the biggest question Jurgen Klinsmann wanted to know (this is why he schedules these friendlies against world powers) is how the US would cope when their resistance was broken.
For the most part it was stellar. The US recovered well and didn’t look overrun in midfield. The right side of defense was where the USA struggled with Steve Cherundolo beaten on both of Brazil’s goals that came from open play. Not all the blame can rest on the Hannover man as he was not helped out by whichever player of the interchangeable midfield three failed to track back far enough to help double in the corner.
The other thing to take into account, as Grant Wahl pointed out to me in the tunnel was that he was dealing with Neymar and Marcelo, both of whom are a level above world class.no comments
3 thoughts following Brazil's 4-1 triumph over the Americans
1. Herculez #1 US Forward?
If Herculez Gomez did not open Jurgen Klinsmann's eyes tonight with his performance then I don't know what will. Gomez absolutely tore it up tonight. Gomez made the most of every chance he got, scoring an opportunistic goal to close out the first half and almost delivering on a few opportunities in the second. Yes, Gomez got good service from Michael Bradley and Fabian Johnson on a couple of occasions but Gomez got it done. In my eyes Gomez is the #1 US forward on the depth chart. Altidore has more potential and could create a bigger mismatch for the opposition but right now I'd take Herc. Herculez! Herculez!
2. US Found Klinsmann's Positive Flare
The 4-1 final score was a bit harsh on the Americans. Despite the mental mistakes in the back and countless marking errors that in the end resulted in the loss, the Yanks had a positive way about them. You cannot ignore these significant errors but the US did embody the "Klinsmann Way" throughout this match, especially in the second half. A shift in mentality was noticeable. The US closed down with numbers, quickly gained possession in the midfield, and countered intelligently. Bradley pulled the strings, Fabian created havoc down the wing, Gomez found pockets of space, and overall the US had a positive mojo connected to their game. As a result, the US camp's optimism despite the lousy result is justified in my eyes.
3. Defense Exposed
The very beginning of the Klinsmann era was marked with the mantra, "the US can't score". Now all of the sudden defensive woes are to blame for the Yanks most recent loss, which makes a lot of sense when you look at the opponent who boasted the likes of Neymar, Hulk, Marcelo, Pato, etc. Age is definitely catching up to the Americans as Bocanegra and Cherundolo looked a step slow at various points in the match and Oguchi Onyewu overall put forth a very sub-par performance. Gooch did improve as the game went on but it wasn't enough to prevent the young Brazilians from finding the net.
Bottom-line: Onyewu needs to be the best US defender and return to his optimal form if the Yanks are going to have any chance in major competitions against the World's best teams.
When Sunil Gulati and Jurgen Klinsmann shook hands last July, this is exactly what both men had in mind.
For months now we have heard a lot about the philosophy Klinsmann is trying to instill in US Men's National Team. We’ve seen glimpses of it on the field, but in tonight’s 5-1 victory over Scotland, it all came together, and for a full 90 minutes.
The "Where’s Waldo" XI ran rampant from the off, scoring after just four minutes. The USA opened the scoring through hat-trick hero Landon Donovan after winning the ball with heavy pressure in the Scottish end twice in thirty seconds.
When Scotland did maintain possession, the US defense did one of two things. They either hunted in packs to win the ball with two to three (apparently numbered) jerseys swarming around the attacker or by getting back and squeezing the game. Making the field as small and narrow as possible, limiting the space for the Scots to attack.
The second goal from Michael Bradley was a blinder, but the set-up was just as delicious. Quick clever passing on a counter opened up the space for the volley after a smart knockdown from Jermaine Jones.
With that second goal, Scotland sat back and tried to pack it in but throughout the rest of the first and into the second half, the US showed a new facet of their game. With confidence, vision, and poise, the US found space where none seemed to exist with quick and sharp combinations. It was from this devastating inter-passing that the next three goals originated.no comments
USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann added 11 more players to the camp roster that will be training in Orlando until May 25th for the upcoming 5 matches. Our boys have put together four straight wins, most recently against the always powerful Italian squad. Things have been quiet recently and Klinsmann is excited to get the ball rolling again as players will be reporting as they complete their club duties. This month long training schedule will simulate that of a tournament schedule, with additional focus on team ball movement and nutrition.
“We are excited now to get towards full numbers with the MLS guys and also the players from Europe who are coming in with great form," said Klinsmann. "We want them to pick up the rhythm as fast as possible and make them understand that we are taking the next couple weeks very seriously. We will continue with our rhythm of two trainings a day and see where the players are really at before we make our final decisions on the 23-man roster for the upcoming games."
With Landon Donovan back in the mix for the first time since September 2011, exciting things are sure to follow. The player pool has certainly grown and many players’ stocks are on the rise due to club team successes. After this training camp concludes the USMNT will head to Jacksonville to face off against Scotland on May 26th and the match we have all been waiting for against 5-time World Cup champions, Brazil, will take place on May 30th in Landover, MD.
ROSTER ADDITIONS BY POSITION
DEFENDERS (4): Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland)
MIDFIELDERS (1) : Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (6): Juan Agudelo (Chivas USA), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)no comments
For 19-year-old Juan Agudelo, this by no means was a “dream debut.”
Traded to Chivas USA from the New York Red Bulls this week, the Colombian born US International started out wide on the left in a 4-3-3 formation. At first, Agudelo looked a bit isolated as the Goats continuously elected to attack down the right through the very dangerous Miller Bolaños.
It was Bolaños that gave Agudelo the chance to mark his arrival at the back post midway through the first half, but the new recruit headed the Ecuadorian’s cross tamely into the arms of Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Perk.
In the second half, Agudelo switched over to the right side so he could have more room to go forward after Galaxy right back Sean Franklin forced him into a more defensive role throughout the first 45.
On the right, Agudelo found the ball a bit more and always looked to run at his defender (something American attackers don’t do enough of) but usually lost the one v. one battle.
Despite keeping his position well, strong running and having the confidence and desire to create off the dribble, Agudelo’s debut was looking a bit inauspicious.
That is until the 70th minute when he marked his arrival by displaying his talents, strength and ariel ability. Agudelo beat Perk in the box to Oswaldo Minda’s floated ball and won the header that put the Galaxy shot stopper in no-man’s land. Fellow Goats forward, Jose Correa soon found the ball and struck a volley at the empty net. Galaxy defender David Junior Lopes saved the shot on the line with his hand, leading to a straight red card and a penalty, which Correa finished not once, but twice. Correa's first PK conversion was called back as one of the Chivas players crossed into the box too soon (before Correa made contact with the ball).
Six minutes later, Agudelo’s night was done, but he had marked his arrival by making an impact at the most vital moment of the match.
So much had been made of the New York Red Bull’s hesitation to use Agudelo and the lack of minutes hindering his development. With Chivas USA, however, the prodigious talent feels he finally has a place where he can grow.
“What they [the coaching staff] want out of me is exactly what I was looking for. Freedom. They told me to play with a smile on my face and that just sets me off,” Agudelo said in the locker room after his first game in the Chivas USA stripes.no comments
By now everyone has heard that US National Team starlet Juan Agudelo has been shipped from the bright lights of "New York" to sunny California in another blockbuster, media shattering deal orchestrated by the Red Bulls. Chivas USA the recipient of a potential MLS MVP did not come without a price as NY received veteran defender Heath Pearce along with allocation money and a piece of Agudelo's future European transfer fee. According to Soccer-by-Ives the allocation dollars could be as large as $200K while the transfer fee percentage is more or less 1/3rd of the total transfer value.
There is a number of moving parts and interesting developments as a result of this deal which I will now rant to you about...