Feb 282014

Another 1-0 win over Texans. Where Luis didn’t actually score, but made the play that led to a goal.

Once again we’ve beaten Texans 01 Houston in with a narrow 1-0 lead. Despite the tight score I will say this win seemed more comfortable than last time. Last time they marked Luis out of the game very effectively, and he only had one good chance, on which he earned the penalty that João put away. This time again Luis created the goal, taking the ball to the endline and then trying to cut it back to Daniel who was perfectly placed. But a defender blocked the cross, causing it to deflect past the keeper on a tight angle; an own goal.

How about some stats?

Probably the most interesting thing I see from the stats is that this was one of the few games where the opponents got the whistle more than we did.

I do have two tactical observations to make, though.

  1. Our defense is really quite good. We saw it through the second half of last season, into the tournament and again this game. We just don’t give our opponents many chances. I can’t remember the last time Alex had to make a really good save.
  2. We need to do a better job of noticing what the opponent is doing. In particular in this game, our players needed to pay more attention to how the goalkeeper was playing and try to take advantage of that.

What do I mean by that second note? In this game the goalkeeper was a very active player, and typically played a relatively high line. But in the second half, when the Texans’ trainer was calling for his defenders to participate more offensively, the goalkeeper played an extremely high line, often hanging out in between the D (the arc above the penalty box) and the bottom of the center circle. Why? In doing so, playing effectively as a sweeper, his defenders could afford to push ever higher up the field, adding players to help win cleared balls and provide passing options. The problem for us is we didn’t force him back.

Usually I hate for parents to implore the kids to shoot. Scoring goals is difficult. We’re not on the field so we don’t often understand what the precise situation is for the player with the ball and therefore we don’t know if shooting is the best option. And a bad shot is usually a turnover. For these reasons, especially the last, I personally don’t like to see kids shoot low-odds shots—it’s usually a sign that things aren’t working right. However, in this case we should have shot more. We should have shot more not just because the goalkeeper was off his line and we might have been able to score on him. It’s true, we could possibly have scored though from that distance it still would have been more likely that we missed, and therefore turned over possession.

But in this case the odds of turning over possession would have been an acceptable risk for me. Why? Trying to shoot from long distance, taking advantage of the fact that the keeper was so far out of goal, would likely have scared the opposing keeper and forced him to drop more in an effort to prevent surrendering an easy goal. This in turn would break up their tactical plan, which is why I mention that we don’t do a good enough job of noticing what our opponents do. I believe we’ve gotten very good at playing “our” game, at even imposing our style on the game. The next step in our development will be to start noticing how our opponents want to play, and trying to disrupt that.

Soccer in Houston’s Three Stars of the Game

It was difficult to pick this, as I really think everyone did well. Daniel especially looked good today. But I’m going to go with a group of players who I touched on earlier in this post: the defenders.

  1. Colin Madden
  2. Kevin Chen
  3. Nick Fetzer

I mentioned earlier how well our defenders are playing, including our new addition Colin. One of the things that so impresses me about the team right now is that we are able to defend as well with three defenders as other teams are doing with four. And this then gives us the ability to play this formation that Marcelo has crafted, the 3-5-2. This five man midfield means now that in most games we control the midfield—we’ve always got someone there to win loose balls or pressure the opponent. But we only have the freedom to do this because our three defenders have been stellar, so they get the award this week.

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