Chicago Fire v Toronto FC

Talking tactics on Chris Rolfe, Chicago Fire and Dynamo

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This video preview of tonight’s playoff opener from Major League Soccer’s content producers starts with Chris Rolfe’s role for Chicago. And that’s a heckuva good place to start, because like we told you previously, as Rolfe goes, so goes the Fire offense.

They talk about Rolfe playing as a second forward beneath target striker Sherjill MacDonald. But that’s just it; Rolfe’s role has been in evolution. As teams began identifying ways to keep the Fire’s top attacking threat and primary linking conduit off the ball, the Fire needed to adjust his positioning on the field.

When Rolfe was more successful in September, he was playing deeper, closer to his own goal, picking up balls out of the midfield and then turning quickly to spring the counter attack.

As teams prioritized a quicker closure of passing lanes into Rolfe once possession was claimed by the Fire, he moved further up the field, working in closer connection to MacDonald. Last week against D.C. United, Rolfe looked more like a second forward in a 4-4-2 as opposed to the central playmaker in a 4-2-3-1 that we saw before.

Since Houston seems likely to use two holding midfielders in a 4-4-2 – similar to the way D.C. United set up fairly successfully in a 1-1 draw at Toyota Park last weekend – expect to see Rolfe in the more advanced positioning.

Adam Moffat and Ricardo Clark will be too much for the smaller Rolfe to content with in the midfield, so his best chances of success will be in working the connections closer to MacDonald, moving in and out of the advanced channels while forcing those Dynamo central midfielders and center backs to make choices and communicate on locating Chicago’s primary threat.

Here is the video preview:


Jurgen Klopp announced as new Liverpool manager

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool FC
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Enough with the speculation and reports already, because it’s finally officially official: Jurgen Klopp has been appointed the newest manager of Liverpool Football Club, the Merseyside club announced on Thursday.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Klopp will be unveiled to the world at an introductory press conference at Anfield on Friday.

According to early reports, Klopp’s three-year contract could pay him as much as $10 million per season.

[ QUOTE KING: Top 10 “Klopp-isms” from his time at Dortmund ]

The 48-year-old German has been out of work since stepping down at Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund following a seventh-place finish to the 2014-15 season. Klopp’s seven seasons in charge of Dortmund weren’t without success and silverware, though, as he led Der BVB to back-to-back league titles in 2011 and 2012, a German Cup triumph in 2012 and a UEFA Champions League final appearance in 2013.

PST’s Joe Prince-Wright will be at Anfield on Friday for Klopp’s unveiling, so be sure to follow JPW on Twitter and check back to PST for wall-to-wall coverage of Klopp’s first press conference as Liverpool manager.

Mourinho “working like never before” to turn Chelsea around

Jose Mourinho, Chelsea FC
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Jose Mourinho got the dreaded much-needed vote of confidence from Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich last weekend, seemingly giving the Portuguese manager a temporary stay of execution despite the Blues’ worst start to a season in 37 years.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking this week, Mourinho has revealed that while he’s thankful to have been kept on at the club for which he regularly professes his love, he still thinks it was no-brainer for Abramovich. In other words, Mourinho’s not backing down from his incredible, seven-minute rant to one question following Saturday’s defeat to Southampton.

Mourinho, on what he’s doing to turn Chelsea around — quotes from the Guardian:

“It shows the confidence of Abramovich in the manager who has won three Premier League titles with this club. I thank him and I keep working.

“What’s going on? I do not know. The results with Chelsea at the moment have been really bad. I cannot hide that reality, and I don’t want to. And I struggle to find an explanation. But I assure you: I’m working like never before and we will come out of this. And there is also the Champions League that we will not neglect, for certain.”

What did you expect from Mourinho? Well, you know, I should probably be fired, but thanks to Mr. Abramovich for not realizing this and keeping me employed? It’s simultaneously interesting and the least surprising thing ever, though, that Mourinho claims to not know what’s wrong with Chelsea at the moment. Of course he has a theory (or five), and of course he’s “working like never before” to correct it.

[ MORE: Ozil, Coquelin say Arsenal can win the title this season ]

The most fascinating thing about Chelsea’s sluggish start to the season is to see, hear and read Mourinho speaking from a position of powerlessness. Always the clever one, the one dictating where the discussion goes, the one in charge of every press interaction, Saturday’s rant felt like watching a desperate Mourinho grasping for anything by which to pull himself back up.