Did the bad pitch matter? We at least have to consider it


Brian Sciaretta, who ardent U.S. Men’s National Team fans will know from his work at Yanks Abroad, showed the world a glimpse of the field in St. John’s, and it’s not pretty:


Charles what now?

That looks horrible. Per Sciaretta’s tweet, that’s from midfield at Vivian Richards Stadium.

Before we go denigrating the U.S. too much, he suggests, take a look at that pitch. Perhaps the U.S. should be thankful for what they got.

It does, however, beg a question: How did the teams combine for three goals in that slop? The answer to that is less important than the fact they did score three goals. While it’s true the teams could have had an easier time of it on a nice day (perhaps leading to more goals), scoring was not an issue on Friday night. The States scored as many goals in 90 minutes as they did in 180 versus Jamaica.

Go beyond the goals, consider the chances, and you see a similar story. This was a pretty typical U.S. performance, even in the adverse conditions. Eddie Johnson had three good chances. Michael Bradley hit a post. Herculez Gomez had two opportunities to worry Antigua and Barbuda only to see his touch fail him. Depending on how you want to count them, that’s four-to-six chances. It’s not as if the United States had been generating many more on good tracks.

The conditions of St. John’s cricket ground were part of Friday’s story, but they can’t be an excuse. Both teams had to play in them, and both teams proved capable of overcoming them. It was unclear the field gave either side an advantage, let alone dictated the result. Ultimately, the U.S. looked no different in a swamp than on dry land: Controlling, but struggling to convert possession into chances.

Bottom line: U.S. Soccer is a program that should be expected to overcome certain obstacles. Weather against a team that didn’t make last cycle’s third round might be the last of them.

Besides, it’s not like many people were taking up the Antiguan cause when they were subjected to a downpour in Tampa.

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.

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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
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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.

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Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

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