Monthly Archives: December 2020

CCL: A Reflection, MLS Moves



Hey, soccer fan! The Sons of a Pitch are back, reflecting on all things Concacaf Champions League. LAFC was so close to being the first MLS team to bring home the CCL trophy in it’s modern iteration, but ultimately fell short vs. a determined Tigres team. Tune in for our takes on:

  • How big is the loss for club and league?
  • Can we measure MLS by CCL standards?
  • What’s holding back MLS sides from winning CCL?

In the second half, we discuss the various moves from around Major League Soccer, including:

  • What Wondo’s extension means for the San Jose Quakes
  • How BWP can help the Columbus Crew repeat as MLS Cup Champs
  • New England Revs upgrade their midfield attack

We also touch on some USMNT news surrounding Ayo Akinola’s CanMNT call up and the rumored friendly vs. Serbia. Tune in for all this and more in tonight’s episode of the Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast.

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CCL Gone Wild!



Hey, soccer fans! You’ve heard of CCL fever, but this is full blown Mad CCL Disease! Theatrics and hard fouls, red cards and suspensions, coaches throwing punches…you’ve never witnessed anything like this before! (And if you have, where did you grow up?) In tonight’s episode we recap all the highlights and lowlights from LAFC’s stunning, come-from-behind-victory over Club America. We break down the aftermath of the game, and then look forward to the final: LAFC vs. Tigres.

Turning locally, we ask the question: do you want Miguel Herrera to coach in MLS? There are advantages to having an experienced coach with a winning pedigree, but certainly disadvantages to hiring someone like “El Piojo.” (Translation: louse) We conclude the show by discussing the latest moves from around the league, including:

  • Greg Vanney to LA Galaxy: A done deal?
  • The retirement of Kyle Beckerman: How much of an MLS legend is he?
  • FC Dallas sign CB Jose Antonio Martinez: Are Los Toros poised for playoff success?
  • Austin FC roster update: How are they building?

Be sure to check out our LinkTree to find us on social media, support us with donations, and purchase your swag.


MLS Cup Recap, CCL Preview



Hey, soccer fans! And welcome to The Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast. Tonight, we recap the 2020 MLS Cup Final and congratulate the champions: the Columbus Crew. We recap what they did right and what Seattle did wrong. Would anyone have guessed that Etienne, Jr. and Aidan Morris would have played so well, or that Zelarayan would’ve bagged a brace?

Next, we examined the sustainability of each franchise. The Seattle Sounders dynasty is a near perfect model, and with Tim Bezbatchenko at the helm in Columbus, he could be building the next dynasty with the Crew. They’re already making moves! To close out the first half, we review the 2020 MLS season award winners and review our own picks from February (a lifetime ago).

In the second half, we preview the Concacaf Champions League with special guest Ryan Anderson. Stay tuned in for our picks and predictions, and hear our thoughts on how the adapted tournament format and the other factors that could finally favor an MLS club. Tune in to the end, as our final picks will not disappoint.

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MLS Cup 2020: The Morning After



What a season, what a finish! The Columbus Crew are the champions of Major League Soccer. In a season marred by Covid-19, the Crew proved themselves worthy champions. Full disclosure: I had predicted the Seattle Sounders would repeat from the pre-season all the way to the MLS Cup Pregame. So how did Caleb Porter and Crew – without stars Darlington Nagbe and Pedro Santos – dethrone the defending champs? It came down to three things: System, Pressure, and some MAPFRE Magic.

System

Porter and the Crew employ a system where every player knows the responsibility of every other player on the pitch. When they begin to build possession from the back or when they turn over an opponent, the ball can be played to a specific area of the field given the situation. If the opposing team presses, play a ball over the top. If they hang back, take the space in the middle of the field. If they use zonal marking, overload and get a numbers advantage.

The Crew’s system allowed them to more easily overcome the loss of two starters than most other teams. (Imagine Seattle trying to play without Joao Paulo or Nico Lodeiro.) Derrick Etienne, Jr. and Aidan Morris filled in superbly, playing with the confidence that comes from this system. Continue reading MLS Cup 2020: The Morning After


2020 MLS Cup Preview



Hey, soccer fans! It’s trophy time! We break down the 2020 MLS Cup matchup between the Seattle Sounders and the Columbus Crew. We bring you our keys to the game, players to watch, and our final predictions. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section and join us on social media!

Keys to the Game

Columbus: Composure out of the back, Prevent the counter.

Seattle: Press, Score early

Players to Watch

Columbus: Jonathan Mensah and Lucas Zelarayan

Seattle: Nico Lodeiro and Jordan Morris

Picks

Mike: Columbus Crew, 2-1

Nick: Seattle Sounders, 3-2

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USMNT Expectations vs. El Salvador



Hey, soccer fans, we’ve got USMNT soccer! And we’ve got a young, MLS based roster for Gregg Berhalter and the red, white, and blue. 21 of 23 roster spots are filled by MLS-based players. The USMNT will also showcase young talent. Most of the roster has only a handful of caps, if any at all. Given those factors, the quickly scheduled game, and Covid, what should we expect? I want to see three things from this game:

1. Play the System

We know GGG implemented a very particular system when he took over as manager of the USMNT. He used it to perform better than his talent with the Columbus Crew, and he’s used it to some success at the international level. If the players on the roster want a future with the USMNT, they’ll need to demonstrate their understanding of GGG’s tactics.

What does this mean? On offense, the defenders will need to play with composure out of the back, the midfielders will need to control possession – and find those long, diagonal passes when able – and the strikers will need to link up to break down the El Salvador back line. Defensively: keep shape, disrupt passing lanes, and don’t give up set-piece goals..

2. Build Depth

This roster is not even close to the USMNT best eleven. The only player on it with a chance to start in World Cup Qualifying is Walker Zimmerman. This game is about building depth. I’ll be watching for Paul Arriola and Aaron Long to prove they belong or play themselves off of GGG’s roster.

The most open spot for a young player is striker. Altidore is no longer a viable starter (injury, attitude), so Zardes is the next best option (form, experience, system knowledge). Sargent still has some growing, so the spot is open for emerging MLS stars Ayo Akinola and Daryl Dike. Akinola’s finishing ability and Dike’s size and hold-up play stand out. The USMNT needs a pure striker, and these two could fill that role.

3. Win.

The USMNT needs to re-establish a winning culture, and to do that, they need to win. Despite this roster looking like the USMNT’s “C” team, they still have the talent to beat an El Salvador team ranked 70th by FIFA – the 6th best team in Concacaf as of the November rankings. They also need to consistently beat Concacaf opponents. There should be no doubt the USMNT will walk off the field with a victory when facing other confederation teams. Back-to-back wins vs. Panama and El Salvador would go a long way to re-establishing the USMNT as the premier Concacaf nation, especially with this roster.

Get excited, USMNT fans! We’ve got international soccer and a Concacaf opponent. As you watch, look out for which players fit the system, who can fill senior roster depth, and cheer for the win.

Nick
The Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast

And be sure to tune in to The Sons of a Pitch YouTube channel for our USMNT vs. El Salvador watch-along, featuring live commentary and love chat. Coverage of USMNT vs. El Salvador begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN News, UniMás and TUDN.


Wrecking Crew and MLS Cup Final Preview



Hey, soccer fans! We’re back talking the latest results from the MLS Cup Playoffs. Tune in for our takes on:

  • Seattle def. Dallas 1-0: Despite their dominance, the Sounders only find the back of the net once. Dallas failed to capitalize on their opponents scoring drought, and on this night, one goal was all it took to advance.
  • Minnesota def. Sporting KC 3-0: On one of Minnesota’s best offensive nights, Kansas City played perhaps their worst game of the season. They were completely out of sync, and the Loons took full advantage.
  • Columbus def. New England 1-0: Columbus returned to their wrecking crew ways from the begging on the season, as they make the MLS Cup Finals for the third time in club history. They did just enough to edge an evenly matched Revolution squad.

We also discuss the latest USMNT news, including their December 9, 2020 friendly against El Salvador. With a young, MLS based line-up, there’s lots to discuss and lots of names to learn.

Tune in for all this and more in tonight’s episode!

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