AT&T MLS All Star Game - Chelsea v MLS All Stars

Lots of angst, discussion ahead on Jay DeMerit’s All-Star role

Leave a comment

PHILADELPHIA – Something about playing against the English brings out the best in Jay DeMerit.

But as good as Major League Soccer’s commanding center back was at PPL Park Wednesday night, I believe a eyebrows were raised when the important Whitecaps man played all 90 minutes.

In fact, I am absolutely, positively, 100 percent dead set certain that more than eyebrows were raised around Vancouver. I’d say some blood pressure was seriously on the rise, too.

Vancouver meets Real Salt Lake on Friday. That game is in Utah. And yes, I said “Friday.” As in, not even on Saturday, which might have provided DeMerit a chance to grab just a little sliver of rest.

As it is, he would have to cross the country on Thursday and then jump into a game on Friday. This is Real Salt Lake, a team currently sitting second in the West. In fact, it’s second vs. third in the West – the very kind of match that shapes a playoff race.

So, back to Wednesday’s cascade of unfortunate events. When Aurelien Collin needed to leave early in the 3-2 win over Chelsea, MLS coach Ben Olsen was in a pickle regarding his center back situation. Once Carlos Valdes entered, Olsen was out of center backs.

So what does this all mean?

“It means I’m going to get a bunch of calls from Vancouver, all pissed off,” Olsen conceded afterward.

Olsen went on: “The plan was get him out at halftime. He has a game on Friday and unfortunately, we couldn’t do that. Our depth as center back wasn’t great. … He knew it. He looked at me at halftime and said, ‘What are you going to do?’ But I thought he did a great job. And it didn’t really affect the game too much. [Carlos] Valdés came in and did a great job.”

(As he talked in the press conference, I wondered if the calls weren’t already coming from Western Canada. I am sure Olsen doesn’t keep a phone with him on the bench. Still, I got a funny mental picture of Olsen’s cell phone ringing repeatedly during the match, with Vancouver coach Martin Rennie’s name coming up – while Olsen just kind of looks over at the phone, sees who it is and thinking, “Oh, man. I don’t want to talk to that guy.”)

There are no easy answers here. Olsen probably should have brought one more center back – but that’s easy to say now.

The reality is, with 18-man or 19-man rosters, coaches simply cannot provide adequate cover all over the field. They could, I suppose, by bringing 23-24 guys. But then the whole thing breaks down in a ridiculous substitution scramble.

Or, you could bring in all these other guys for cover – but neither the players nor their clubs want to see guys travel across the country, missing training with their teams, just to “provide cover.”

It’s a tough situation – and we have not heard the last of it.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)