A busy day of Major League Soccer movement continues, as the Seattle Sounders have once again put Scottish midfielder Adam Moffat on the move.
The 27-year-old veteran was sent back to Texas, this time to FC Dallas for the rights to negotiate a contract with Kenny Cooper.
It’s the second time Moffat has been traded in the last four months, with Seattle acquiring him from Houston in September for Servando Carrasco and a SuperDraft pick.
Seattle continues to revamp their squad, with their fourth trade this week molding and shaping the look of the team.
Just recently, the Sounders added defender Chad Marshall from Columbus, sent Maurio Rosales to Chivas for Tristan Bowen, and picked up goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
They may not be done either, with the future of Eddie Johnson in the balance thanks to Cooper’s arrival.
Dallas certainly will appreciate the addition of Moffat’s veteran presence in the midfield, but they were forced to give up a pure goal scorer, leaving Blas Perez all alone for the moment as their major goalscoring threat.
Cooper, coming off an 18-goal season in 2012 in New York, struggled for much of last season with FC Dallas. He bagged just six goals in 31 appearances and was relegated to substitute duties for much of the second half of the year.
The 29-year-old striker will still need to work out a contract with Seattle. He made $342,000 last year in Dallas.
Adam Moffat was a huge piece of Houston’s personnel puzzle over the last two years as Dominic Kinnear’s Dynamo made its way into consecutive MLS Cup finals. Moffat isn’t the best of MLS midfield distributors, but his hard edge and desire was a good fit for Houston’s grinding style, and he sure delivered a few clutch goals courtesy of that well above average long-range shooting.
So something looked askew when Moffat (pictured, along with former Dynamo teammate Ricardo Clark) was traded to Seattle right at last week’s MLS roster deadline for reservist Servando Carrasco and a second-round draft pick. Carrasco is a versatile, third-year midfielder but perhaps not an MLS starter. (Not yet, anyway. Maybe he will be now that he’s not stuck behind the league’s top ball-winning midfielder, Osvaldo Alonso, but we’ll have to see.)
The Dynamo’s midfield was already strong, one of Major League Soccer deepest; it’s the lack of a striker this is currently undermining Houston’s playoff chances. Will Bruin simply is not having a good year, Cam Weaver can’t finish reliably (he missed a couple of absolute golden opportunities last week in Philadelphia, including one with a wide-open goal to shoot at), Omar Cummings’ injury recovery just hasn’t been fruitful to this point and the old Dynamo warrior of a striker Brian Ching is now a limited, role player off the bench.
It would have made more sense if Carrasco was a forward, someone to give Kinnear one more option closer to goal. But Carrasco’s best position is the very same one Moffat played, holding midfielder.
So Seattle got the better part of this trade in the short term. Moffat, a tough Scotsman full of desire, provides a little more cover in the event of injury to Alonso, probably the most indispensable man to the Sounders’ Supporters Shield and MLS Cup chances. He can be what the increasingly immobile Shalrie Joseph just has not been, an experienced, holding midfielder who keeps the dropoff from being egregious if Alonso has to take a seat.
Moffat can also play alongside Alonso if Sounders manager Sigi Schmid wants to reconfigure his midfield according to the situation, something that happens with some regularity around CenturyLink anyway. In that scenario, the versatile Brad Evans would play elsewhere – which, of course, he can.
So why would Houston agree to this? There is about $100,000 of salary cap relief for Houston, as the more experience (and quite popular) Moffat makes about $160,000. And Carrasco is four years older. Otherwise, it must indicate a couple of things.
First, Dynamo coaches have a lot of faith in second year man Warren Creavalle. Versatile enough to play along the back line or as a holding midfielder, he stands to gather up even more minutes now (having already started 11 games this year for Houston.)
Or Houston officials believe Carrasco has more upside; he is already a better passer than Moffat, so there’s that. But will Carrasco get more minutes in Houston? Because while he’s no longer sitting behind Alonso, he’s behind the rangy, effective Ricardo Clark. This also means more of Clark back into his more natural spot, further back in the midfield. That will allow Kinnear to deploy someone more technical, with more attacking craftsmanship into the playmaking areas.
And maybe that’s the point. Guys like Brad Davis, Oscar Boniek Garcia and Andrew Driver give the Dynamo plenty of offensive push along the flanks, but the middle channels don’t always do enough to create. A little better passing, a little more offensive craft from the midfield and maybe one of those strikers will finally find his scoring shoes.
Two-in-a-row for New York as Houston falls apart (Video)
Perhaps my memory is failing me, but this might be the worst defensive performance we’ve seen from a Dom Kinnear team.
It’s not just that they gave up four to New York in today’s 4-1 loss. And it’s not that they gave up those goals at BBVA Compass Stadium, a venue that at one time played as a fortress. It’s that it was far too easy for the Red Bulls to use basic execution to leave Tally Hall with almost no chance to prevent the rout.
The first Red Bull goal was a well-placed, well-hit (in an unconventional sense) shot from Eric Alexander, but New York was able to pass right through the middle of New York’s defense to set that up. While roster issues that forced Will Bruin into a start at the head of a midfield three might have contributed to the overall result, Adam Moffat and Alexander López have to do better at the base of midfield.
Thierry Henry expended little effort walking through the Houston defense for the second, Mike Chabala just decides he’s done playing as Jonny Steele makes it 3-1, while nobody seems to be willing to actually challenge New York as they built Lloyd Sam’s 88th minute insurance.
On a couple of the goals, New York looked like they were playing a poorly-prepared college team. It was too early to pull the defense apart. There was too little resistance in the build up. They didn’t have to settle for lower percentage shots, knowing they would be able to get at Hall.
What’s happened to the Houston Dynamo? Normally reliable players like Bobby Boswell and Moffat are making basic mistakes. Will Bruin still can’t buy a goal. They’re not even giving Tally Hall a chance to keep them competitive anymore. Kinnear’s fiddling with his formation, but it’s not going to matter unless these guys start playing better.
It’s not that they’re a little off their game. These players are bad, right now. Missing basic assignments. Almost open nets being missed. At times, even a lack of effort. Houston’s hit rock bottom.
As for New York, this is a great three points to get, but given Houston’s performance, there isn’t much to learn from the match. Red Bull proved they can take advantage of a bad team, but any team playing at the top of their conference should.
And right now (and perhaps, surprisingly), Houston is bad team. Fortunately for them, Montréal’s performance in New England is going to keep them tied on points for the last playoff spot, even if they technically sixth in the East. But right now, they’re not the sixth-best team in the East. They’re playing more like Toronto and D.C. United than the conference’s elite.
A team that has appeared in the last two MLS Cup finals faces danger of not even making the 10-team playoff field in 2013. The Houston Dynamo is sixth at the moment, although armed with the advantage of a game in hand on most clubs higher in the Eastern Conference standings.
That added opportunity for matches will not matter, however, if Kinnear’s team cannot fix the problems that have risen through the summer, primarily the lack of scoring from forwards and some atypical leakiness in the back.
The simmering issues came to boil in last weekend’s 5-0 loss in Montreal, the worst loss in club history, and these problems are exacerbated by the schedule; Houston is in the middle of its busiest stretch of 2013. Try this for a brutal schedule: Seven matches over 23 days, with six plane trips in between.
And it’s not like Houston is training – when they get to train, that is – in some cool climate. Houston’s perennial sultry summers can have a debilitating effect if not carefully and dutifully managed.
With a match coming up this weekend in Chicago, against one of the clubs scrapping with the Dynamo for a playoff spot, Kinnear probably doesn’t have a choice but to line up several reservists.
Expect something similar to last week’s lineup as the Dynamo drew with W Connection down in Trinidad; First-choice men such as Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe, Adam Moffat, Giles Barnes, Brad Davis, Oscar Boniek Garcia and Will Bruin were all on the bench to start that one. (Ricardo Clark, now injured, was also missing.)
Remember, passionate MLS supporters want teams from our part of the world to rise in Champions League, some believing the league will take a giant leap forward once an MLS teams claims the regional trophy. That may or may not be true.
But this is definitely true: Major League Soccer clubs and coaches are judged primarily on two things. First, did they make the playoffs? Second, how far did they go in the playoffs?
That’s it. Idealism where CCL is concerned is grand and all, but the reality is that league play dominates the narrative for an MLS club.
That’s why the Dynamo reservists will most likely be on the spot tonight at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Brad Davis is getting healthier for Houston, but may not be ready to start
A striker still has not scored for the Dynamo since May 8
Chris Rolfe had two goals last week in Chicago’s 4-1 win over D.C. United
Fortress BBVA just isn’t what it used to.
That doesn’t mean the Dynamo’s downtown ground, just 14 months old, is now easy pickings for opposition operations. The crowds there are boisterous, the relentless humidity in South Texas is never accommodating and Dynamo manager Dominic Kinnear likes to keep the field tight, all the better for his players and their familiarity with how to make it work.
But … the former Dynamo unblemished mark disappeared last month, so the former BBVA mystique has evaporated into the thick Houston air, at least. That has to be helpful as Chicago comes to town for a 9 p.m. ET kickoff on the NBC Sports Network. (The stat-packed official league preview is here.)
Before a tight victory over Philadelphia on July 6 (in the team’s most recent MLS match at home) the Dynamo had suffered a draw and two losses at BBVA in the most recent matches there. The string of bad results fell in stark contrast to the 36-game unbeaten streak at home, which stretched back to June of 2011 and the days spent passing, trapping and shooting inside Robertson Stadium at the University of Houston.
The missing element in June and through July has been scoring from forwards. Will Bruin and Giles Barnes struck back on May 8, but the Dynamo strikers have fired blanks from there. All forwards, that is. Goals by midfielders Adam Moffat and Ricardo Clark (both pictured) have guided victories lately, but teams simply cannot win over a longer stretch without production from the men paid to score goals.
Speaking of those men: Mike Magee keeps scoring for the Fire, and keeps building his case for league MVP. The veteran attacker has six goals in eight league appearances since the newsy trade from L.A. in May. He has nine in all competitions for Chicago. Further, with 12 goals in MLS this year, Magee trails the league’s leading scorer in 2013 (Vancouver’s Camilo) by just one.
Chris Rolfe had only two goals a week ago, but enjoyed a two-goal breakout in the Fire’s 4-1 dismantling of woeful D.C. United last Saturday at Toyota Park.
“The difference tonight was just finishing our chances,” Fire manager Frank Klopas said of the big victory over United.
It might be tougher to get those chances without Dilly Duka’s ability to break down defense from the wing and supply the centering passes. Duka is out with a groin injury.
On the other hand, they should get Patrick Nyarko back; the speedy flanker was out last week with strep throat. Presumably, Nyarko will run the right side with Joel Lindpere, coming successfully off his first start in a month, patrolling the left.
Speaking of the left: the Dynamo should soon have a fully fit Brad Davis to compete for time in the team’s already stacked midfield. The U.S. international missed almost a month with a hamstring injury, but did play 24 minutes in Wednesday’s friendly win over Stoke City.
Most likely, Davis will come off the bench Saturday, but sooner or later it’s easy to see some type of rotation developing among Davis, central men Adam Moffat and Ricardo Clark and wide attackers Oscar Boniek Garcia and Andrew Driver.