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Found 8 results

  1. Every Friday, I will give my keys to victory for the Montreal Impact, in 3 points! No Piatti, No Party? The Montreal Impact will be without the service of their star Designated Player Nacho Piatti on Saturday versus Chicago. Ignacio could be out several weeks due to a groin injury. Can the Impact create quality goal scoring chances without the Argentinian in the lineup? Can the Impact capitalize on their looks on goal with a depleted lineup? If so, Montreal could come out of Toyota Park with a favorable result. In this case, I would consider a draw on the road a favorable result. If not, a tough afternoon at the office it will be. Shoot to Score The Impact are 17th in MLS for shot attempts. The ratio of attempts vs on target is respectable (26/10). To compensate for the clinical finishing skills of Piatti during his absence, the Impact needs to put the odds in their favor literally and raise the amount of shot attempts, hopefully on target. It will not be easy and with the injury to Patrice Bernier, the service coming from the midfield could struggle, but raising the amount of shot attempts could raise the probability of goal scored. Forget Bastian, Cover Dax! It will be a big day for the Fire, to say the least. Bastian could play, but will doubtfully start. Dax and Juninho are the two key Fire players you need to cover at all times. The revamped midfield for Chicago has already paid dividends this year and with all the new eyes on their product on Saturday, they will want to put on a show! If Montreal can stifle the Combustible Duo like they successfully stifled David Villa two weeks ago, Montreal could pull off the result on the road for a second straight game. You can follow Kevin on twitter @KevLaramee
  2. Every Friday, I will give my keys to victory for the Montreal Impact, in 3 points! No Piatti, No Party? The Montreal Impact will be without the service of their star Designated Player Nacho Piatti on Saturday versus Chicago. Ignacio could be out several weeks due to a groin injury. Can the Impact create quality goal scoring chances without the Argentinian in the lineup? Can the Impact capitalize on their looks on goal with a depleted lineup? If so, Montreal could come out of Toyota Park with a favorable result. In this case, I would consider a draw on the road a favorable result. If not, a tough afternoon at the office it will be. Shoot to Score The Impact are 17th in MLS for shot attempts. The ratio of attempts vs on target is respectable (26/10). To compensate for the clinical finishing skills of Piatti during his absence, the Impact needs to put the odds in their favor literally and raise the amount of shot attempts, hopefully on target. It will not be easy and with the injury to Patrice Bernier, the service coming from the midfield could struggle, but raising the amount of shot attempts could raise the probability of goal scored. Forget Bastian, Cover Dax! It will be a big day for the Fire, to say the least. Bastian could play, but will doubtfully start. Dax and Juninho are the two key Fire players you need to cover at all times. The revamped midfield for Chicago has already paid dividends this year and with all the new eyes on their product on Saturday, they will want to put on a show! If Montreal can stifle the Combustible Duo like they successfully stifled David Villa two weeks ago, Montreal could pull off the result on the road for a second straight game. You can follow Kevin on twitter @KevLaramee View full record
  3. THE GOOD Sam Adekugbe The young Canadian left back got his third MLS start of his career. The difference this time was that it was because of merit and not because starting left back Jordan Harvey was serving a suspension. He stepped up to the plate and did everything the coaching staff asked him too. He was able to use his speed and get up the wing to jump into the play. He linked up well with Kekuta Manneh and made it difficult for the Chicago Fire players to stop them both. Did Adekugbe do enough to earn a second straight start? Is there any way that Carl Robinson can not start him? The future is bright for young Sam and he looks like he will be an important part of the Whitecaps in the future moving forward. THE AVERAGE Able To Counterattack It was a game of counterattacks, for both teams on the pitch. Sure it means that mistakes were being made by both sides but it was sure entertaining to watch. With all the opportunities created by both teams it led to chance after chance but both sides failed to score off those attacks. Sooner or later these chances for the Whitecaps will go into the back of the net. When they do, the team will be a high octane force this season in MLS. THE BAD Would The Real Pedro Morales Please Stand Up Where has his shot gone? Why can't he hit the net from anywhere on the pitch? He is looking like a player that has concerns in his mind that is affecting his ability on the pitch. The good thing is he is still creating chances and getting these opportunities that he is missing. He has been able to link up well with newcomer Octavio Rivero and with time, they may become one of the most dangerous duos in the league this season. He is too good to keep struggling like this for an extended period of time. His goals with come, he will continue to get better game after game and he will step up when the team needs him to this season.
  4. Last year, the Whitecaps, on the whole, were pretty solid at the back. There were some horror games where they gave up three goals against both Portland and Philadelphia in consecutive weeks, although they did take four points from those matches. David Ousted led the league with 13 clean sheets and the 'Caps defence were stingy. Three of the back four that finished the last regular season with four straight clean sheets started against Toronto. They were all at sea at times, especially the full backs. Did Andy O'Brien really make all that difference to the defence? This week will be a better test of those four's credentials going forward, if indeed Robinson doesn't decide to freshen things up. They're not going to be getting ripped apart by international players like Altidore and Giovinco every week. Chicago are more at the level of much of MLS. It's fair to say, and maybe even being a little too fair, that Beitashour and Harvey had a bit of a mare out there last weekend and Kah wasn't too far behind. All three were getting burned with runs and runners in that second half in particular. Horrible marking in the box was one of the things that blighted the Vancouver defence last year and it doesn't really seem to have improved. Fingers can be pointed at both Harvey and Kah for allowing Robbie Findley to run in for what proved to be the crucial go ahead goal for TFC. The whole back four have to tighten up, but a concern I have is that they looked flat footed. You could even say they looked old out there. Vancouver have a young team, but a veteran defence. I'd like to see more of a veteran presence in attack and more of a younger, faster element at the back. Sam Adekugbe anyone? He's breathing right down Harvey's neck right now for a start and it wouldn't be outwith the realms of possibility that he gets one in Chicago. And Beitashour just didn't impress me at all last season and is a player I would happily move on if we had better depth there. In the centre of defence, I've loved what Kah has brought preseason, both on and off the pitch. He can be a beast in both boxes, as two goals down in the Portland tournament showed. But he can also be a liability at the back, as that clumsy tackle on Altidore for the last penalty demonstrated. We haven't seen enough of Diego Rodriguez to know just what he can offer to the 'Caps in MLS, but his youth and quicker footwork may see him get the nod sooner rather than later. Moving quickly to the other end, and this is something I wrote about over on MLSSoccer.com earlier this week, aside from the continuing concern about not taking the multitude of chances presented to them, there seems to be a tactical deficiency when it comes to changing the gameplan and moving to a Plan B or even a Plan C. We saw that last year as well, although it hasn't been as bad as when Martin Rennie was in charge. Vancouver's gameplan is pretty much guaranteed. The team will line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with the reliance on some speedy play on the wings and the hope that Pedro Morales is on his game. But what happens when that all goes tits up? When the speedsters can't get past their man and a resolute defence or when Pedro has an off day, which happens a lot on the road and he was way off with some of his deliveries against TFC. The back up plan seems to be to replace one fast guy with another and keep Pedro on in the hope that one of his majestic balls pops out. Yes, Octavio Rivero is a different kind of striker to the rest of the bunch. He's taller, bulkier and looks like he can finish chances (and miss sitters as well!). But... there is no getting away from the fact that the rest of the attack is far too samey. Manneh, Mattocks and Hurtado put their heads down and run, often showing little control or attacking awareness in the process. Vancouver need to have different options coming off the bench. Do those actually exist in the squad right now? Well, yes they do, as Robinson was keen to point out to me this week, but therein lies another issues. The substitutions against Toronto were what I expected for the first two, but at the same time, the wrong choices in terms of the way the game was going. If Manneh can't unlock the TFC defence, was Mattocks really going to? Koffie added some physicality to the middle of the park, kicked a few players, but offered very little else. Then there's poor Nicolas Mezquida, who finished the preseason as perhaps the strongest Whitecaps attacking player and couldn't even get off the bench, despite showing that he and Rivero have developed a very early and productive understanding. Robinson was outcoached against Toronto. He'll know that. He'll know the mistake he made. But he needs to correct them against Chicago. Robbo pointed out that he does have different kind of players than speedsters to change a game. He highlighted Mezquida and Marco Bustos and Kianz Froese. Neither came on against TFC and the latter two weren't even on the bench. I see Robbo mixing it up a little this week and Mezquida must surely get the start. It could be for Manneh on the left or it could be for resting Rosales on the right and keeping the veteran as a sub for later. We may even see Morales dropping a little deeper to allow Mezquida to slot in to the number 10 role. All that said, you don't want to over react. That first half performance from the Caps was one of the best and most electric we've seen, perhaps in the whole MLS era. Those glimpses of grandeur are certainly worth persevering with and giving up on it after one game against a team many tip to go all the way, would be foolish. Keep those eleven together, let them gel, click and run riot. That I would gladly take. They just need to tighten up at the back, take a couple more chances and have a better take on Plan B if things are working and they need to change things up. Get that right and Chicago could be on the end of a hiding. Get it wrong and a dreary 0-0 draw could play out. What will it be? Well, we'll soon find out.
  5. Phew! All the game build up you can shake a stick at, so have a listen. You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  6. REPORT: Vancouver Whitecaps preseason was wrapped up in a gloriously sunny Portland on Saturday afternoon with an uninspiring 1-1 draw with Chicago Fire. The 'Caps had already won the Portland preseason tournament for the second straight year heading into the game and they turned in a performance that felt like there was nothing on the line, whereas a place in next week's starting line-up against Chicago should have been on everyone's minds. A first half header from Pa Modou Kah, his second in two games, looked to have won the game for Vancouver before Shahdon Winchester's low long range drive in the final seconds saw a share of the spoils. Vancouver went for another strong line-up, with Mauro Rosales and Erik Hurtado not dressing for the game having picked up knocks over the week's action. Chicago also went for a near opening day line-up, as both teams hoped to nail down some final team chemistry before the season hopefully gets underway next Saturday. The game was being played at a pretty pedestrian pace in the opening stages before Chicago's Quincy Amarikwa nearly brought the game to life in the 8th minute with a shot that forced David Ousted into a diving save. Ousted was called into action again in the 17th minute, producing an instinctive one-handed diving save to keep out a Kennedy Igboananike header off a cross. Vancouver had possession but were struggling to do anything with it, and looked to be missing the creative output of Rosales out wide. They won a corner at the half hour mark, which was eventually cleared out to Russell Teibert. The Canadian's fierce shot looked like it may fly wide but it went on a straight course to Pa Modou Kah's head and the Norwegian grabbed his second goal off the game when his header wrong-footed Fire keeper Sean Johnson. 1-0 to the Champions! The Caps now had the edge and Nicolas Mezquida got past his man in the box before drilling a shot that Johnson had to turn around his near post for another corner, which this time came to nothing. The half then played out to an uneventful end. You could say typical preseason fare, but we've seen a lot better from the Whitecaps up to this point. The second half continued to be pretty uneventful. Vancouver had the best chance early on when Octavio Rivero played a low ball across goal that just begged for Pedro Morales to put it away but the 'Caps captain made a poor effort at it. The Whitecaps made their first few changes of the match in the 62nd minute and moments later the ball fell to Chicago's Lovel Palmer in front of goal, ten yards out, from a corner but he blasted his and over. Vancouver went up the field and Octavio Rivero should have doubled their lead when he was played in by a nice Kekuta Manneh ball but the Uruguayan hit the ball straight at Johnson as he tried to lob over him and it went out for a corner. There's was a mini flare up after Manneh tackled Fire DP Shaun Maloney, Chicago's players taking umbrage at the Gambian standing over the Scot as he lay on the ground. The Caps had a couple of chances with 15 minutes remaining. First Morales tried to round the keeper and score, but was thwarted, before Rivero blasted a Sam Adekugbe cutback wildly over. With time running out and it looking like another win for Vancouver, Chicago sub Shahdon Winchester grabbed a draw for the Fire with almost the last kick of the game, drilling a low shot from the edge of the box past Ousted. So a 1-1 final and while Vancouver will be happy to have finished the tournament undefeated, it was a pretty lacklustre performance at times and not ideally what Carl Robinson would have been looking for going into the last week of preseason camp. There were a few highs in this game but overall it's been a good week for the Whitecaps. Competition for places is fierce but you would have expected some of the guys to have done more in this game to try and force their way into the reckoning. FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 1 - 1 Chicago Fire VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Kendall Waston, Pa Modou Kah, Jordan Harvey (Sam Adekugbe 62); Matias Laba, Russell Teibert (Gershon Koffie 62), Nicolas Mezquida (Darren Mattocks 62), Pedro Morales, Kekuta Manneh; Octavio Rivero [subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Christian Dean, Tim Parker, Diego Rodriguez, Ethen Sampson, Marco Bustos, Kianz Froese, Ben McKendry, Caleb Clarke, Robert Earnshaw] CHICAGO: Sean Johnson; Lovel Palmer, Jeff Larentowicz, Eric Gehrig, Joevin Jones; Chris Ritter (Matt Polster 72), Shaun Maloney, Matt Watson (Michael Stephens 68); Harry Shipp (Kingsley Bryce 82), Quincy Amarikwa, Kennedy Igboananike (Shahdon Winchester 68) [subs Not Used: Jon Busch, Alec Kann, Greg Cochrane, Patrick Doody, Collin Fernandez, Albert Edward] REACTION: CARL ROBINSON On the last game of preseason and the performance: "Overall I think we've had a very good week of work. Obviously conceding in the last minute is never nice. It's happened to us before and I'm sure it'll happen to us again. We looked a bit tired at the end but it was important I got some guys 90 minutes, which is why I didn't make any extra changes. I'll give them that one." "In the first half I didn't think we played as well as we could. I thought we were a little bit slow and sloppy at times. The last 15 minutes of the first half, when we played the ball correctly, we cut them open. Again we missed a couple of chances but we're creating chances so I'm not too worried about that." On losing that goal: "We were just too spread out in the last few minutes. We looked tired, especially the last 15 minutes. It happens. It was a good finish. Kendall was obviously on a yellow card and he tackled and the ball ricocheted. I don't think it was good skill, I think it was luck. It was a good goal. The boy scores goals and it was a good finish. Sometimes you have to hold your hand up." On the adventure that is a Pa Modou Kah performance: "I said we need to find goals, didn't I?! We found two from him." On whether Octavio Rivero needs more time to get up to speed: "I think most of my players won't be 100% fit and if any manager tells you that all their players are 100% fit then I think they'll be telling porkies because you need match minutes and you need competitive match minutes because as good a game as that was, or as poor a game as that was, today against a MLS team, it's not the real thing." On the game livening up after the substitutions: "Three subs come on today. Sam, Koffie and Darren and were fantastic, in their attitude but also their playing. They're knocking right on the door to start games. I've got some good decisions to make." Any concerns that the game a bit uninspiring at times with places on the line? "I think it was uninspiring for 90 minutes if I'm honest. I said to the guys at half time, it must be tough to play in because it was tough to watch. It was a fixture that seemed like it was the first preseason game. Actually it was the last preseason game, but it's been a long week for us, a long nine days. I don't hold that against anything. We'll be ready for next week without a doubt. Again, you can take the positives and say we scored, we were unbeaten but it was important that we got guys minutes and I've got some good decisions to make." On the line-up decisions now facing him: "I've got some great decisions to make and that's good, because I didn't have them last year." On whether any injury concerns lingering over Mauro Rosales: "No, no doubt, he's fine. I left it to him. I asked him if the season was to start today, would he be able to play, and he said yes, but I didn't want to take a risk as he's too important for me to lose first game." Did lack of creativity show important to team of Rosales?: "He's going to be missing in certain games this year through tiredness, through manager's decisions, through injury or suspension, so other players will get chances. Is he the type of player we need in our team? Yes. We've got Nico that can play there. We've got a number of players who can, so I'm not too worried." What's the key focus now going into the last week of preseason?: "Just tidying up a few things. There's a few areas I think we need to improve on which we were a bit slow and sloppy on today, but we'll get to work on that next week because we haven't really touched on them. Set pieces. We're a threat from set pieces now, so we'll tidy up on that. I'll just make sure that they're ready and happy going into next week's game because if my group plays when they're happy and with a smile on their face, then they're enjoyable to watch." Does he expect a strange week with CBA negotiations up in the air?: "No, week as normal. I'll see you guys Monday and we'll go from there." JORDAN HARVEY Where does he see the team at going into last week of preseason?: "Looking back at the game against Portland, not necessarily this game, but the Portland game, I thought everybody looked good, I really did. There are a few things we need to sharpen up on but other than that the intensity was there, the energy was there and I think come March 7th the energy will be there and everyone will be ready to go." Is Kah the new defensive goalscorer on the team?: "Yeah, preseason, two for two. He's getting his head on everything. Set pieces, him and Kendall should be a wrecking ball in there, so it'll be nice going forward." On what Waston and Kah will mean to his goalscoring chances: "With those two guys on set pieces, it'll open up a lot more opportunities and for me, it's also that second ball. Hopefully I can get my head on a few this season, but if those guys are going to get their head on the ball, I'm going to pick up the pieces hopefully." How strange a week will it be with all the CBA negotiations? "We're going to approach it like any other week going into a game, but yeah, we're going to have that in the back of our heads and hopefully we can come to an agreement." "All the bargaining committee members from each team will be flying in [to DC], so that's really all I can go on from that."
  7. The Good: David Ousted Clean Sheet Only his fifth clean sheet of the season. Three of them have been 0-0 draws. After blowing leads in the past three games it was about time the Whitecaps, as a team, were able to keep their opponents from scoring. The Chicago Fire had there chances but Ousted was up to the challenge to keep the Whitecaps in the game. The Average: Carlyle Mitchell After last game, just by him showing up he played a better game. He was a lot more careful when the ball came to him and relied more on Ousted and the other defenders. He was 500 times better in the air and clearing the ball out of the box. Many supporters where surprised he got the start after last game and a lot of people were calling on Andy O'Brien to get the nod. Was a great rebound game for the T&T defender and hopefully he can build off it moving forward. The Bad: Dropping Points July record of 1W 1L 4D. 8 points dropped in the last four games. These points lost could be huge at the end of the season. Just hope a playoff spot and/or Canadian Champions League spot aren't lost out on because of these runs of four games. With the schedule that is coming up the games are going to just be tougher and tougher. The playoff chances right now are slim to almost no chance at all unless they can run off four to six games and pick up crucial points.
  8. In this interview, Justin and Red Nation discuss his experiences playing with Chicago, the many changes that the Fire went through in the offseason, the 2010 MLS campaign and Chicago's upcoming match against Toronto FC. http://www.rednationonline.ca/podcast.shtml#JustinMapp
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