With actual video of most matches now available, thanks to DCFC and Nick Miko, I’m going to try something I’ve wanted to do for a while – pick a few key moments from the previous weekend’s match(es) and offer my humble opinion on what worked or what needs to be fixed. Note: I’m not a coach or professional analyst, so if your takes differ from mine I’d love to hear them and possibly learn something new.
This week I’ve decided to focus on City’s defensive breakdowns and what can be done to address them. Videos 1 and 2 by DCFC; video 3 by Nick Miko.
(1) Milwaukee Goal #1
What Happened: Jeff Adkins is beaten on the dribble and a low cross is sent in, which finds its way through to an unmarked Milwaukee player just outside the six-yard box. His attempt goes wide but City’s defenders are caught ball-watching and the goal is scored by another unmarked player at the back post.
How to Fix It: Adkins getting beat and allowing the cross in is the first thing that went wrong, but he’s not a defender and those things will happen throughout the course of the match. What’s more of a problem is the ball making it past all the near post defenders and finding its way to Milwaukee’s #9 who happens to be completely unmarked. If anyone has a body on him that ball likely never makes its way to the back post. The third and final breakdown came when all of City’s players stood around and watched the ball pop out the back side:
Credit to Milwaukee’s attackers for making great runs and finding the open space, but City must mark better. Even just being a little bit closer to the open attackers and getting in their way probably would’ve done the job.
(2) Milwaukee Goal #3
What Happened: Troy Watson gets the ball tackled away by the eventual goal scorer, who beats Dave Edwardson to the inside and hits an absolutely perfect curling shot out of the reach of Nate Steinwascher.
How to Fix It: Normally when an opposing player takes a shot from 25 yards out, it’s a win for the defense. In this instance, though, three of those defenders were dribbled through and around. A 3-on-1 should result in the attacker losing the ball, being forced to the outside, or in the very worst case being fouled. None of these things happened, so a little more aggression could’ve snuffed this out before the shot.
(3) Stars Goal #1
What Happened: As the Stars player with the ball plays it through, his teammate on the far side of the field makes a run in behind Kervin Kenton, receiving the ball and slipping it past a charging Colin Miller.
How to Fix It: I actually think Kenton did fine here. At about the 2 second mark you can see him step up as the ball is played, apparently trying to catch his man offside. This would’ve worked except for the fact that the City defender on the far right (I’m not sure who that is) wasn’t up high enough and played the Stars goal scorer onside.
Kenton should’ve tried to recover rather than raising his arm, but most of the blame goes to the defender on the right. The obvious solution here is to stay even with the rest of the back line, and this is very likely a consequence of guys who are unfamiliar with each other playing together for the first time.
Bonus: Some thoughts on the Venezia friendly
For those who haven’t heard, DCFC will host a friendly against Venezia FC on July 18th. Recently promoted to Serie B, this will be by definition the highest-level club City has ever faced. Perhaps almost as interesting is who’s sponsoring the match:
That would be Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores, and to my knowledge, this is the first public interaction that either of them has had with DCFC in any capacity. Some supporters have expressed concern that this may be the first step to a corporate assimilation of the club, but I think that’s a bit of an overreaction. Sponsoring one friendly won’t change the opinion supporters have of GilGo, and it in no way binds the hands of City’s ownership to reciprocate with support for their MLS project. In the absence of more information, I’m choosing to look at it as a cool opportunity to play against a notable European club and as a public acknowledgement by the MLS to Detroit group that what DCFC has done is remarkable and cannot be ignored.
For more thoughts on this, I highly recommend Dion Degennaro’s piece. I agree with most of his points and I’m looking forward to see how City’s players measure up against a second-division Italian club.