Tag Archive | "Montero"

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PREVIEW: Revolution @ Seattle Sounders

Posted on 25 June 2011 by Matty Jollie

CenturyLink Field is ALWAYS a tough environment

The New England Revolution (3-7-6, 15pts) travel to newly re-named CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Sunday afternoon to take on the Seattle Sounders (7-4-7, 28pts) for the fifth time in MLS history. Despite their early success in MLS, Seattle has seemingly always had trouble with the Revolution, amassing a 1-3-0 record, splitting the two meetings in Seattle.  New England is heading out west for the fifth time this season after their brief two game homestand last week that saw them earn two points from their matches with Chicago and Toronto FC.  New England has always had trouble with the difficult cross-country trip, and this season has been no different, going 0-2-2 thus far, with the two draws coming at the Los Angeles Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps earlier in the year.  Seattle is coming off a wild affair on Thursday night, defeating New York Red Bulls in a six goal thriller, 4-2.  Seattle has once again proven that they are an incredibly tough out at home, losing only twice in nine games at CenturyLink Field thus far in 2011, and if the Revolution are to earn a result on Sunday, it certainly won’t come easy.

 

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GOALKEEPER: You cannot find a better head to head match up at this position than you will experience in this one. Two of the most decorated and veteran goalkeepers face off on Sunday, as Matt Reis mans the net for New England, and he will be staring across the field at one of the most celebrated keepers in American soccer history, Kasey Keller.  Keller’s pedigree is incredibly well documented, playing all over Europe, captaining his German club for an entire season, leading the United States in World Cup play, and of course, his impressive streak of 59 straight MLS matches played as the team’s captain and leader.  Seattle has been solidly defensively, amassing a 1.00 goals against average in their last 7 matches, with most of the credit going to Keller, whose positioning and command of his back four is second to none.  While New England has struggled in the first half of this season, it certainly can’t fall upon the shoulders of ‘keeper Matt Reis. Reis, finally healthy, has found a great run of form of late, leading the Revolution to a 1.19 GAA this season, good for fourth in the Eastern Conference.  Reis has shown great command of his back line, and has always been an imposing force in the box.  Both goalkeepers are playing well coming into Sunday, which will make for a great match. ADVANTAGE: Push. Hard to believe when you’re dealing with Keller, but while the Seattle man may be far more decorated, there may not be a hotter hand in MLS than Matt Reis.

DEFENDERS: Both sides have found their stride defensively of late, and both boat their share of youth and experience. Throughout their struggles this season, the New England Revolution have been solid defensively (the Revs have played 10 matches in which they’ve surrendered 1 goal or fewer), and as the season progresses and young players like A.J. Soares and Franco Coria gain more experience, the defense is only poised to continue to improve.  New England will once again be without Didier Domi, so it will be Darrius Barnes once again assuming the role of left back, a position Barnes has begun to adapt well to, as he has had plenty of opportunity to earn minutes at that position.  Kevin Alston will man the right back spot, and as the Revs’ spark plug continues to remain healthy, his run of form continues to improve.  Seattle is anchored by veteran presence, with former Revolution pick James Riley, as well as Jeff Parke. The two have been the more visible influences on the Seattle back line, often joined by Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, a strong, physical presence in the center of defense. Seattle are giving up just a shade under a goal a game this season, but are always tough at home in front of their great support and atmosphere.  With their full compliment of defenders at their disposal, it will be up to Head Coach Sigi Schmid after a quick turnaround from Thursday night’s match on who will defend the Sounders’ net, but look for mainstays Riley and Parke to be a part of the match.  ADVANTAGE: Seattle. The Rave Green outfit are incredibly tough at home, and with the struggles of New England offensively still ongoing, it’s easy to see the advantage at the back.

MIDFIELDERS: New England will most likely be welcoming back USMNT midfielder Benny Feilhaber on Sunday afternoon (the newly acquired Feilhaber is listed as Probable on Friday’s injury report) and his addition couldn’t come soon enough. Just Feilhaber’s presence and creativity is sure to bolster a struggling Revs’ offense, and he will look to regain the chemistry that was beginning to emerge with Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph.  Sainey Nyassi had arguably his best match against Chicago on Saturday night, and with Zak Boggs still struggling through injury, Nyassi should get the start at right midfield. Left midfield will be a bit of a question, as Chris Tierney is listed as  doubtful for the match, so it may be newcomer Ryan Guy, whose brief cameo on Saturday night showed great promise from the California native, taking over and getting his first start in MLS play.  Seattle’s midfield has an incredible propensity to just continue to fire on all cylinders throughout each match, with Mauro Rosales and Osvaldo Alonso seemingly having tireless energy.  The two have combined for three goals and three assists, but it’s their midfield partner Brad Evans who leads the team in scoring, with four goals and an assist thus far in 2011. Evans has a knack for finding the goal, and his strong presence in the midfield and blue collar approach always make him a formidable foe in the center of the park.  It’s going to fall upon Shalrie Joseph to create and set a tone early in this match, and allow Benny Feilhaber to flow and create in the final third to help with the struggling Revs’ offense.  ADVANTAGE: Seattle. It’s too early to put too much pressure and expectation on Feilhaber, add to that the Sounders’ ability to create and finish through the midfield and you can see where the advantage will lie.

FORWARDS: The lack of offensive firepower in New England has been well-documented, however, since Revolution head coach Steve Nicol switched to a 4-4-2 (effectively giving striker Rajko Lekic a partner in attack instead of being the lone man up top), New England has seen an improvement in the quality and frequency of its’ chances.  Lekic ended a long goal-less drought against Chicago on Saturday night (the Danish international hadn’t scored since April 23rd), and with the addition of Kenny Mansally up top, New England is looking slightly more dangerous and likely to find an offensive breakthrough.  Seattle’s attack is anchored by a very familiar figure in Freddy Montero, and the Colombian international hasn’t disappointed, firing in three goals and four assists in 2011. Montero is the type of player that always needs to be accounted for on the field, and can spring up in attack at any time, so it will fall upon Matt Reis and company to keep track of him at all times.  With Steve Zakuani out for the season, the other forward slot has been manned by committee, with veteran big man Nate Jaqua sharing the minutes with the likes of Mike Fucito and even Alvaro Fernandez as well.  Jaqua provides a strong presence in the air, something New England has struggled with early in the campaign, but it’s been Fucito with a good run of form of late. Expect a balanced attack from Seattle, and it will be quite difficult for a well-traveled Revolution defense to contain a Sounders side coming off of a four goal output just four days prior.

 

PREDICTION: New England has played well defensively, and it is going to take a massive effort to keep this Seattle team off the scoresheet. The addition of Feilhaber will absolutely help, as will the possible inclusion of Ryan Guy.  Signs of improvement are evident throughout the Revolution team as they continue to fight the injury bug and add new pieces, and a breakthrough is certainly coming, but it won’t be on Sunday afternoon.  SCORE: Seattle 2 – New England 1.

 

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MLS refs need to stop hack-a-Freddie/Fredy tactics

Posted on 27 July 2009 by Kyle Alm

Freddie Ljungberg is fourth in MLS in fouls suffered with 38 fouls suffered in 14 matches. Fredy Montero has the suffered the second highest number of total fouls in Major League Soccer, with 42 in 16 matches. Despite the high number of calls the Swede does get, the Sounders captain is known to voice his opinion in the referee’s ear every match about the calls that don’t go his way.

The general strategy against the Sounders seems to be to hack at Montero and Ljungberg persistently and expect that the referee can’t or won’t make every call.

Ljungberg may be deserving of more calls. Like the Dynamo, Chicago Fire put a lot of physical pressure on the Sounders early. There were some early retaliatory fouls and a lot of playing through the backs of players that wasn’t called. The physical play continued to escalate throughout the match and most of it was allowed.

I disagree with people who say that calling too many fouls slow the match down. I tend to place the blame on the fouls themselves. Fouls need to be called and if correct call is made consistently fouling should decline. The beautiful simplicity of the match is that if you make an attempt to play the ball you are most likely in the clear. If you attempt to play the player, it’s a foul. Refs need to call fouls and give cards before players begin to retaliate against each other.

These are professional players who have played their entire lives and they know when they get fouled, and they have a pretty good idea of when a play is malicious, honest, or ‘professional.’

The dive is another matter. There is altogether too much diving in soccer at every level and it needs to stop. Giving a yellow card is appropriate punishment.

Freddie Ljungberg went mad after being called for a dive just outside of the Chicago Fire’s penalty area. He could not believe it. Upon the replay it was clear that Ljungberg was barely impeded outside of the box and tried to play the referee for another call. The Swede received his second yellow for petulance. The Sounders relinquished their man advantage over the Fire merely five minutes after John Thorrington was sent off for his second yellow.

Sigi Schmid later said that he knew it was coming as soon as Thorrington was sent off.

Referees really get tired of complaining. Ljungberg lost his composure completely in a match where he had been hacked at persistently. A critical advantage for a crucial three points would have leveled Seattle and first place Houston on the table were lost on Ljungberg’s outburst.

But what does it take to get called for a dive? Is it persistence? With the advantage of hindsight the referee should have let it go as a no-call as a mere embellishment. There were easily three other instances of Fire players going to the turf as easily as Ljungberg had. It was certainly embellished, I won’t say that it was a dive, but Ljungberg went to turf easily, but there were more incriminating instances of diving than that play. You need only mention the name ‘Blanco.’

The Sounders FC and their fans should expect more from the designated player than that. Ljungberg needed to keep his cool and try and win his club three points especially since he would be missing the next match because of his accumulated yellow cards now totaled five.

Aside from the shear spectacle of the Brougham End’s and their protest of Qwest Field Security, the amount of cards handed out, near misses and drama of a match with another league leader, it was quite a memorable nil-nil draw. The posts were lucky to be standing by the end of that match. After both players had been sent off there was still plenty of action. Montero nearly had the winner and a share the league’s goal lead with a strike that rocketed past Jon Busch and of the corner of the frame in the 80th minute. And a similar response from the Fire’s Prideaux who responded with a header off that bounced back into play off of Kasey Keller’s frame.

Not to mention Jacqua’s inability to finish a goal. He had no less than three wonderful opportunities to score point blank that all went begging.

Instead all anyone wants to talk about is why one situation gets called and not the other. The true problem isn’t one of diving but with the consistency of officiating in MLS. If one gets called and similar situation gets let go it’s still in the best interest of players to foul. Officiating has let the last couple of matches get out of hand because of the tactics employed. There needs to be more calls and earlier cautions (I hate seeing referee’s give continual warnings, a caution is a warning) before retaliation between players. Otherwise they might as well let the players settle the match themselves without the referees.

If the MLS wants to attract players of quality we need to have a league that is quality. We need officiating that is consistent. The players MLS wants to bring over, that will attract more fans and more advertising revenue, won’t sign on to be the league’s tackling dummy. Just like the fans don’t want to see a million dollar dive and rolling around on the turf until a whistle gets blown.

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