Player ratings

Player ratings & analysis: Union 1-3 Toronto FC

Photo: Daniel Studio

There is a simple story to tell about Saturday’s flaccid Union performance. It stars Ken Tribbett and it’s the story of four goals. The story lasts about 45 minutes.

There’s a longer, more complex story as well. It doesn’t have simple heroes or villains.

The star of the story is a system of play. And when the Union trust it, they play well. When they don’t… well, you know Saturday’s scoreline.

It’s important to note from the outset that trusting the system isn’t simply a players issue. It goes all the way to the top.

But first, Tribbett

Is Ken Tribbett a great MLS center back? No. And he’d tell you that.

Is Ken Tribbett too slow, too uncoordinated, too anything-else to play in MLS? No, of course not. Look around MLS. Lots of central defenders learn to swim in the deep end and take a few years to develop into steady, locked-in starters. But Tribbett is no slower or less intelligent than a lot of guys with long MLS careers. 

Instead he’s a rookie center back playing between another rookie and a second year player, in front of a first year starting goalie. He’s also playing behind either a 35 year old holding midfielder or a guy who flamed out as a holding midfielder at two other stops and reacts more than he relies on positioning.

In short, Tribbett was always going to have his ups and downs. For the Union, inexperience in the back was an acceptable risk because they were going to press through the midfield and protect their young defenders. Even before Philly was forced to flip Vincent Nogueira for Alejandro Bedoya, the youngest player in the midfield rotation was 26 (Creavalle and Alberg). That’s not an accident.

Both Tribbett and Joshua Yaro — another rookie who has gathered significant minutes in defense this season — have made mistakes. Tribbett has had the ignominy of being pulled at halftime twice after he was exposed by speedier strikers. Yaro has looked helplessly naive against San Jose, Vancouver, and Montreal.

But they are not alone. Richie Marquez has made his fair share of mistakes, too. A poor clearance against DC United being the latest blooper that likely produced a bearded grimace in the film room. Marquez, though, has the luxury of a) Having no clear challenger for his role, and b) Possessing both the size of Tribbett and something approximating the speed of Yaro. It’s hard to call for Marquez’s head when it means simultaneously advocating for Anderson. Plus, he, like the other two, deserves multiple chances.

The overall point is this: Philly knew they were going to have a very young defense, and they made a plan to protect that defense with an active midfield that would prevent passes like the one that set up Toronto’s third on Saturday.

Third goal

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First reaction: Man, Tribbett cannot get turned there.
Second reaction: Man, you cannot allow a straight-line pass into the most dangerous zone of the pitch there.
Third reaction: Man, what a great run by Osorio to pull Marquez.
Fourth reaction: Is Ilsinho playing red light-green light during a soccer match?

Tribbett cannot be absolved for his role in that goal. But equally so, he cannot shoulder all the blame for what is a very broken defensive shape. There is Fabinho playing so far off of Giovinco that Creavalle feels the need to not only shadow the lane to the Italian, but basically front-mark him. There is Delgado with enough time to pick up his head and choose any pass he wants, including a 25 yard horizontal ball in the Union’s half (yuck). There is the entire team shape far too deep given the situation. And there is Ilsinho. Nominally marking a fullback for no particular reason other than that the fullback happened to be passing by on the way to a better position.

Altidore turning and scoring is a worst possible outcome for that scenario. But the other options aren’t so great either. At best, the US national team striker takes a poor touch. Second worst? Maybe Tribbett pokes the ball away (perhaps to the feet of Osorio or the onrushing Will Johnson). More likely? Altidore draws a foul just outside the box and Giovinco renews his intense (and very fun) 1v1 battle with Andre Blake.

This goal is a team breakdown. And it’s the kind of team breakdown that has been happening quite often since the rest of the league found time to study the Union during the Copa America break. It’s isolated pressure leading to a broken team shape, which allows the opposition to both get into good positions and create numerical advantages in those positions.

Want to see another team-wide breakdown? Cool.

Second goal

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Again, Tribbett’s actions here are inexcusable. He’s quite a few yards behind a guy who doesn’t cover yardage that fast. But equally inexcusable is covering Toronto’s two front post runs with four players. It’s like the front post guys were getting handsy, so the Union sent chaperones.

This is another team breakdown, and a bad one. Even if Tribbett gets beat so badly that he flashes a few times and disappears like an arcade game bad guy, there should be at least one body in the area where Moor finds the ball. I mean, it’s pretty much the exact point where free kicks are supposed to go; this wasn’t a trick play.

Shall we do this one more time? Groovy.

First goal

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So there’s the obvious stuff again: Tribbett is way too deep and basically inviting a ball in behind. That’s real, real bad.

There is the caveat that Delgado plays an incredible first time pass, and Giovinco’s first touch may not be possible even if you know how to use the special moves joystick in FIFA1. Plus: Off-foot finish across goal? Good day, sir.

But there is naivete across the pitch on this play that needs to be drilled out as the Union approach a potential playoff appearance. Fabinho is cheating all the way to the touchline and is incredibly far forward given that it has been clear for a while that the Union have forced Toronto to go long. Richie Marquez lets Altidore bring down a long kick from the back on his chest, which is wholly unacceptable because, as good as Jozy Altidore is, he’s not prime-years-Drogba. (Jim Curtin said before the season that he didn’t want his team to be last in fouls again this season, and I’d wager that he meant he wanted them taking fouls instead of letting opposing strikers bring down goalie clearances on their chests.)

In short, there’s a Tribbett error on this play, but Toronto can only take advantage of it because the Union are, once again, not executing their system well. It’s this collection of minor positioning issues, short, uncoordinated movements and communication lapses that have undone the Union during the second half of the season. Teams weren’t punishing these mistakes early in the year, but they are now.

Before we leave the goalscoring, look at Rosenberry’s position on that first goal, because it highlights one of the more consistent problems Philly has had over the past few months. After pushing play back to Bono, who carries the ball to the Toronto right, Rosenberry doesn’t recover into the back line to support Tribbett against the league MVP. There may be potential advantages to having a fullback stay five yards ahead of the center backs on plays like this, but it’s hard to figure out how they outweigh the desire to support what coaches on both teams will have spotlighted as an obvious individual mismatch during the week.

Rosenberry should have recovered to his position before resting. This is one of the stranger developments in the Union defensive structure over the latter half of the season. When players recover to their shape without the ball, they seem to orient to the other team’s positions on the pitch rather than to any sort of well-spaced, practiced shell.

Perhaps this means Union defenders are a step or two closer to a player and can press more quickly, but the cost is that choosing the wrong player (as Fabinho did on the first goal) allows moments when the opposition is so alone that they can pick out a long pass. Or, like Justin Morrow below, simply take fifty yards of space on the trot. That is what happens when a player doesn’t trust the system.

Trusting the system: Ilsinho

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Tribbett was the scapegoat yesterday, but this wasn’t an ‘Ah-ha, that’s who you really are’ moment for the center back. Instead, it may have been an ‘Ah-ha’ moment for Ilsinho. Although Jim Curtin has repeatedly defended his winger’s defensive shortcomings by arguing that the Brazilian can take over a game, the evidence remains elusive. Small (though important) contributions like his tackle-assist against DC notwithstanding,

Ilsinho is the Union’s weakest defensive player and it’s not even close. He doesn’t trust that by recovering to a good defensive spot within the team’s shape, he will greatly increase the probability of a turnover high up the pitch that will give him the opportunity to create in dangerous areas. Instead, Ilsinho finds himself endlessly dribbling into well-organized defenses and producing very few chances (16 key passes on the season, or one every 70 minutes; for comparison, Fabian Herbers has a key pass every 54 minutes this year).

Below, you can see Ilsinho again fail to shadow the passing lane out wide, which results in the Union back line getting stretched across three quarters of the pitch. If a cross goes in, it’s a 1v1 battle between Marquez and the not-unmuscled Jozy Altidore. Ilsinho had similar issues against Real Salt Lake that repeatedly undermined the Union’s defensive rotations (because when one guy is out of position, everyone else over-rotates or someone steps out of the back and leaves a gap in behind).

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Trusting the system: Beyond the players

This may seem like picking on Ilsinho, but that’s sort of beside the point. Ilsinho is who we thought he was. When the Brazilian was substituted on Saturday, Marissa Pilla reported that he signaled he was tapped in the 73rd minute, and that he had been “working on his fitness” all year. Note that this report came in an August match, or almost six full months into the season.

Instead, the larger issue is that the Union, despite robotic insistence that they would not alter their style of play for any team, any location, or any prolonged slump in form, have compromised for a tricky playmaker who isn’t making plays. And instead of hedging their bets, Philly doubled down by trading away the player competing with Ilsinho for minutes.

This discussion is part of a larger, more ominous trend over the course of the season that has seen the Union go from a club that signed players to fill in a hammered-on tactical plan to one that signs good players and tries to quickly sand off the rough edges so they fit into needed holes. To cite another example, Charlie Davies was a good, if slightly risky, pickup. But his signing waterfalled into trading away Sebastien Le Toux, which now leaves the Union trying to come from behind with Alejandro Bedoya (who is also a very good player in a not-quite-perfect role) playing holding midfielder.

To be clear, the argument is not that Ilsinho shouldn’t play, or shouldn’t be on the team. He does have incredible potential to contribute, and he brings a skillset — a winger who can act like an attacking midfielder against teams weak through the center — that nobody else on the roster can emulate. Below, you can see him cut inside and throw the defense into disarray. Unfortunately, you can also see him attempt to force a pass to Bedoya’s wonderful decoy run instead of driving at the now-spacious middle of the pitch.

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But his defensive problems hint at a player who would be an influential substitute, but flawed as part of a team that simply cannot succeed on a consistent basis without a coordinated defensive effort in midfield protecting a young back line.

To sum up this long walk to what may seem an obvious point, Ken Tribbett’s clunker overshadowed the weird and continued reliance on Ilsinho as a starter (as divorced from the idea of Ilsinho as a general contributor). Yes, Philly’s week-to-week roller coaster of form is about inexperience to a certain extent. But it’s still strange that the Union built a team around the notion of high pressure, all-out running, but continue to make a single exception based on the increasingly unlikely hope that a Brazilian who takes three quarters of a season to get in shape will suddenly don a cape and turn into a chance creation monster.

Ilsinho might not trust the system enough to track back, but it’s more mysterious that relying on him can be interpreted as the club not trusting the system and values that are largely believed to have undergirded an impressive one year turnaround.

Toronto defense, mins 1-60. Clearing everything around the top of the box.

Toronto defense, mins 1-60. Clearing everything around the top of the box.

Oh, and also about the Alberg sub

Whew, let’s switch topics.

So, why the Alberg sub on Saturday? At that point — the 62nd minute — Philly had two subs left and were down 3-1. Toronto came out in the second half using something like a diamond midfield that was pretty well oriented towards the top of the box. If there was a secret game of capture the flag going on during the match, you can be fairly certain that Toronto’s flag was inside the ‘D’ at the top of their box. If anything moved toward that area, the visitors collapsed towards it like zombies with a treasure map that said, “BRAINZ HEER.”

Yet the Union still used their first attacking sub to subtract from their transition defense and add to their presence in the most congested area of the pitch.

Perhaps Curtin’s instructions were for Alberg to help the team build in midfield, pulling Bradley away from Barnetta so the Swiss man could find more space. But once on the field, Alberg played like Alberg. To whit, he stayed central, he stayed high, and he wasn’t too inclined to drop in and build attacks. He basically apprenticed with CJ Sapong for half an hour; and not to pile on, but his total contribution (defense included) was two backward passes, a couple fouls, and a wild shot.

This isn’t to downplay the qualities of Alberg, but instead simply to say that they were poorly deployed in this match. The Dutchman is a dangerous box poacher, and to the extent that the Union can get behind a backline and cut the ball back they could do a lot worse than finding the two cannons Alberg calls feet.

But what plagued the Union was a lack of access to the center, not a lack of players in the center. Below, you can see Fabian Herbers collect the ball near two defenders and drive past them, only to meet another defender. All the while, there is not a Union player in sight.

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This was, unfortunately, not a rare occurrence. Philly set up (or ended up with, after a loose and wild opening half-hour from both teams) with Creavalle supporting the left side of the pitch from the middle and Bedoya supporting the right. For Bedoya, this was fine. But it was not a natural role for Creavalle and he rarely stepped forward to separate from his marker or draw defenders out out of the center and into the channel. Below, you can see the effect it has on Toronto’s defense when Creavalle checks hard to the ball. Osorio has to shift to his left, which opens a lane through the center and eventually allows Ilsinho to attack the Toronto back four without any midfield obstruction.

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In short, the Alberg sub was an odd decision, particularly given that a) CJ Sapong had difficulty getting in behind Toronto’s high line, and b) it meant Jim Curtin would have to choose between Charlie Davies and Fabian Herbers as his final sub.

Curtin picked Herbers. And while the rookie’s movement was a welcome addition to the match (certainly, he was far more involved than Alberg), it meant Davies and his ability to push a defensive line deep, remained on the bench.

Player ratings

Andre Blake – 7

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Example of a four-chain, organized back line (Burnley, against Liverpool)

Example of a four-chain, organized back line (Burnley, against Liverpool)

Those goals are not his fault. An incredible free kick save and great job making himself big on Giovinco’s second breakaway.

Keegan Rosenberry – 5

I have always had a difficult time figuring out Jim Curtin’s use of fullbacks in defense. It can feel as though no other team in the league is more willing to sacrifice a four-chain of defenders in back to pressure the ball in low-danger parts of the pitch. So was Rosenberry a bit out of position, or was he just doing his job all game? Hard to tell. He did step up and play extremely well in the second frame, getting forward, remaining calm, and putting in a few crosses like the absurd curler off the bounce below.

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Ken Tribbett – 2

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That is a glorious kick and finish. Unfortunately, Tribbett was also intimately involved in all three of Toronto’s goals and lucky not to be the face of a fourth. Perhaps the worst part of it all was that he seemed to let the first goal get to him and started dropping back far too soon for the rest of the half, a change that didn’t help the Union’s spacing issues.

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Fabinho passing/crossing

Fabinho passing/crossing

Richie Marquez – 4

Not directly responsible for the goals, though he should have dealt with Altidore better on the first and gone to the ball

instead of following a run behind the rest of the defense on the third (just let the dude go offsides). Still, you see his value against both big and fast players in the match.

Fabinho – 4

It’s hard to be too critical of Fabi because, again, he didn’t get nearly as much support through the center as Rosenberry did on the right. But look at the passing chart. When Fabinho gets in the final third, he crosses the ball. Period. End of sentence, end of story, end of book, end of literature. Below, you can see him take on numerous players in a vain attempt to cross the ball into something like a 5v3 scenario. Meanwhile, the Brazilian has drawn so much attention that a simple drop to Pontius would provide a clean and clear cross, or a chance to drive into the box and create contact.

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Warren Creavalle – 2

Again, Creavalle has huge positives and big limitations. Teams that can force him into on-the-go decisions tend to exploit his lack of positional discipline. Unwilling to check hard to the wing to facilitate play through the center and unable to close down Toronto’s counterattacks, Creavalle exited the match with two interceptions (both in the first six minutes) and two recoveries as his only defensive contributions.

Alejandro Bedoya – 5

Bedoya’s passing range is ridiculous given the limited space he found (also enjoyed him battling off Jozy Altidore’s rough challenge). Additionally, he had ten recoveries, three interceptions, and a couple clearances. All that said, the best part of Bedoya’s game was connecting with the right side to allow Rosenberry forward and allow play to move from the wing to the center. Some of this good work was undone by Ilsinho’s rough night, however. Bedoya missed a few chances to switch play, but given that it was late in his first full ninety, that probably isn’t a long-term issue.

Tranquillo Barnetta – 5

Nobody suffered more from the Union’s inability to break through the middle than Barnetta. He complained after the game that he felt unprotected, and a big part of that there were always bodies in the Swiss man’s preferred areas. Pretty sweet assist, though.

Chris Pontius – 4

More involved than usual, but unable to create much for himself. Had a couple tough chances (one in front, one header) that he might finish on another night.

Ilsinho – 2

I’ve ragged on Ilsinho plenty in this piece, and it’s not personal. It’s simply about the style of soccer he plays and whether it’s a great fit (in a starting role) for Philly’s current system. That extended discussion meant no review of the biggest problem the Union had up the right, which was Ilsinho and Rosenberry occupying the same line. This is a major no-no because it means the Union are wasting resources wide and making it more difficult to progress from the wing to the center. Below, you can see how there is no access to the center with both the fullback and winger on the touchline, so Barnetta has to get creative and is lucky to spin well and draw a foul.

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CJ Sapong – 3

This was a fairly disappointing game for Sapong. Once again, he was unable to threaten in behind a team’s high line. And he was slow to recognize that the Union needed access to the center and check in to offer it (below). That’s a huge lane, and Sapong not only misses it but gets beaten to the pass.

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Additionally, he continues to impose himself physically on aerial balls but not in the box. Below, he needs to put a body on a defender early in his run to draw contact or get on the end of Bedoya’s cross.

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All that said, pretty sweet touches in a tight area here forces a sensational save out of Bono. CJ still has so much upside.

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Joshua Yaro – 6

A calm, measured performance off the bench. Nothing too fancy, just like his best showings.

Roland Alberg – 2

Took a shot when he got in. That was it.

Fabian Herbers – 5

Active on the wing, but unable to provide a link to the middle. That said, everyone else seemed pretty resigned by the time he arrived.

Geiger counter – 3

Man, Mark Geiger is some sort of performance artist. He called a pretty consistent match for 75 minutes, then suddenly decided to let a few clear body fouls go around the Toronto box. What gives? Just when you think he’s coming around…
(Also, I don’t blame him for the Delgado dive that set up Toronto’s second because it looked as though his linesman called it. If I’m wrong, let me know).


  1. Can’t disagree with most of these ranks and don’t know if this has been mentioned, but a glaringly obvious thing I noticed in this game: cross comes in from Fabi on the Left there are no back post runners, no Ilsinho, no Creavalle or Rosenberry, no one and Fabi either hits it on the ground near post getting blocked or in the air back post to no one. When the ball comes in from Rosenberry Pontius is always running back post with a trailing Fabi Sapong near post to middle of the net with a trailing Barnetta. There is a reason Pontius has the number of goals he has its cause he puts the work in on those plays which seem dead. Personally I’d like to switch Pontius to the right and Alberg to the left leaving Ilsinho on the bench. CJ also needs to learn how to complete a run hard to the goal.

    • I agree I would like to see what Alberg can do on the wing. I think Curtin has been pretty stubborn on this, when he was so willing to move Herbers around and hell, for some reason though Herbers was worth a shot at the 10 once.

      Alberg in for Illsinho. Make it happen Jim.

      • Or even fine don’t put him at the wing, but then put him at the 9 its not like CJ is scoring at any amazing rate. Put Alberg up top Pontius Barnetta Herbers. Anything but more Ilsinho and CJ. Ilsinho reminds me of Maidana great on the ball but allergic to goal. But even Maidana provided more assists. I guess its even cause Ilsinho provides slightly more defense than Maidana. And CJ again and again just doesn’t get his shot off and doesn’t finish his runs.

      • I agree with this. Alberg is going to be another Ilsinho on the wing I think. He does seems like his best position is as a forward. He doesn’t play well with Sapong though. So when he’s in we needs Herbers up top (who was in when ALberg was bagging all those goals) or try Davies. Sapong could go to the wing, he would probably be similar to Pontius there honestly.
        Also there is a reason why we don’t get burned down the left as much any more, and while I think a decent amount of that is Fabinho getting better, it’s also the fact that Pontius puts in good D work all game.

      • So true.

    • I’m not sure Alberg plays enough defense to be on a wing in this system (though I get that Ilsinho isn’t supplying a ton either, but Alberg hangs out pretty close to CJ when at the #10). Give Herbers a start on the right, and you then have three interesting and different looks you can introduce in the second half with Davies, Ilsinho, and Alberg.

    • You don’t dare leave Fabinho that exposed. Alberg’s defense ranks with Ilsinho’s.
      We are learning why their former teams let them go, and, Ilsinho probably wanted to get out of the way of war between Russia and the Ukraine, and I can’t say I blame him.

  2. Sapong overall play is pretty disappointing most of the time.

    You see the real good teams have strikers who come in and out of games and make their presence known often.

    Even Jack Mac last night – who I saw people on twitter make fun off – seems to be able to create a chance for himself a couple of times a game. And real, in-on-goal chances. Not Sapong half “mass of bodies” chances.

    When was the last time Sapong created a honest to goodness chance for himself and broke free on goal?

    As much as he runs, and as athletic as he is, it’s almost like he is playing below himself. With his skillset you would expect him to be a poor mans Altidore. But even in his best games he is a defensive forward who doesn’t always win headers and never seems to break free.

  3. And re: Fabinho. How much of it is no one being in the box for his crosses, versus him mindlessly crossing into an empty box as being his only offensive move?

    And for what we hear about his skillset, Sapong seems to be invisible aerially in the box. Pontius has had a TON more positive moments winning headers in the box than him.

    • That’s the thing with Fabi. He is really great at getting up the left side and his crosses are excellent, but you have to wonder: Is he looking up to see if anyone can get on the end of those crosses? Sapong seems to be about 2 to 5 seconds behind the incoming pass/cross all the time. Alberg on a wing is an interesting idea. Same with Herbers.

      • As I stated above, I think our wingers needs to be the blue collar working type. It has worked really well for Pontius, Herbers, and even Le Toux was putting up decent numbers. I would actually like to see us setup with Sapong on the RAM and Herbers up top.
        Of course Creavalle is killing us now too. He’s a nice option late in games to bring in at the 8 and that’s about it. Although as 3rd on the depth chart he’s not bad.

      • Creavalle is awful and I know everyone says he is our third option there, but lets be honest with ourselves. Edu has played maybe 3 games top at the 6 for this team. Carroll is option 1 and Creavalle has typically been option 2 and it is a bad option two. I’ve been harping on this for a few years now, but getting someone to replace Carroll should have been this teams priority the last 3 years. When Carroll is out the team is just not the same. Granted other spots were needed too, but the level of this team often seems to live and die with a disciplined 6 and 8.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Yup, Carroll only gets full appreciation for all of the many things that he does when he’s not in the line-up. He’s such a rock in that 6 role.

      • Edu played half a year at the 6 when he first came. And he was the plan for the 6 this year. Just because he hasn’t done it doesn’t mean that wasn’t the plan going into the season. A solid backup 6 to groom is without a doubt necessary a year ago. Doesn’t need to be that athletic freak we seem to love so much either as Carroll v Creavalle has proven this year.

  4. A roster that not long ago looked full of options now looks threadbare as we see the limitations of many players get exposed by the opposition.

    While it was great that Bedoya showed his versatility by dropping into the holding role when Creavalle got subbed, we really missed him further up the pitch. Adam – it’s a great point with the Herbers clip as it was so apparent that we needed an extra player to pop into to help Herbers and Rosenberry break down the left side of Toronto’s defense. We never completed the triangle in those situations during the 2nd half. Instead we saw too many signs of the old Union chasing the match where four attackers line up in a straight line queuing up for the eventual cross from the wing.

    Curtin has a very tough job ahead of himself this week with two more matches and limited options for changing out personnel.

  5. On Fabi, he goes cross every time because he has no right (weaker) foot to speak of. Watch him in the next game and count how many times he over-commits to using his left foot when using his right (even for mid-range passes) is the fundamentally logical choice. This lack of an alternate foot dictates a lot of his decison-making on the field. I have no idea just how bad his right foot is because I’ve literally never seen him use it for anything longer than a 5 yard pass.

    On Geiger, his inexplicable calls that dramatically shifted around the 70th minute happened right around the time that the F-you chant from the SOBs reached full crescendo. I truly believe that many of the calls from then on were spite calls.

  6. “Man, Mark Geiger is some sort of performance artist. He called a pretty consistent match for 75 minutes, then suddenly decided to let a few clear body fouls go around the Toronto box. What gives? Just when you think he’s coming around… ”

    Was that before, or after, the “F*** you Geiger” chants (which were really clear on the broadcast, BTW). I swear the guy would make a great WWE ref — I’m pretty sure he loves getting the crowd worked up.

  7. Stellar work as usual.
    I often find myself wondering if Ilsinho would be more useful in an inverted role as he likes to come inside but then is on the outside of his right foot to affect the play. IDK.

  8. Just Rob f/k/a Rob127 says:

    If anything, Geiger’s score is too high. There were a couple of Toronto fans sitting behind me and my wife and they totally got into the “F-You Geiger” chant. Contempt for him is universal.

  9. Lucky Striker says:

    so much I wanted to say here…….but I’ve promised myself henceforth to just let it go.

    I’ll leave it at this:

    Dear Adam,

    Under the “Inquire Within” provision of Union hierarchical policies…….

    Should the tactical command position be re-opened in the near future, you’d have my vote should you choose to apply.

    • science and art.
      he’s got the science down.
      Adam, can you paint as well?

      • When his work hangs at ESPN, MLS, FOXSPORTS, etc. we can say we knew him when. Thanks, Adam!

    • This comment is basically stated under every post Adam makes. And yet somehow it is still not said enough. I have learned more about the game through these previews/ratings than anything else in my life. We readers are truly blessed here at PSP.

      • You guys are far too kind. A lot of the ideas that come out in the posts come from just incorporating discussions that start in these comments. There’s a lot of give/take going on here. Hopefully we’re all on the ground floor of getting snarky soccer analysis into the American mainstream (probably not, but at least it’s fun to do).

      • It’s not the snark, man — that’s just bonus that makes it extra-fun to read. It’s the content. Nobody analyzes matches like this in written form.

  10. The manager’s main task is to wring the most out of the talent presented. I applaud JC for astutely seeing what BC could do with a raw back line. But no Edu or Carroll means change. If Yaro was worth the pick, toss him in – especially against speed like TFC.
    Maybe CJ is tired & nursing knocks, but dirty running impresses less when he’s so often shut out.
    JC was MLS coach of the year at the Copa break.
    When teams figure you out, you adapt. Maybe “Ilsinho + Fabi” on left (with Pontius right) scores enough to make up for their defense. Maybe Alberg should give #17 a blow or even be in a 2-fwd set.
    Most of us thought this team would barely make the post-season. Then Blake showed his stuff. When you play against greater talent, the staff has to plan how to deploy its best weaponry.
    “Stubborn” is probably why these guys play so hard for him & never give up. And why the better teams win – easily at times – against Curtin’s squad.
    I don”t like our chances of 3 points against SKC or in any of the road games left. We’re 2 points from last place.

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