Saturday into early Sunday was not, on the whole, a good day. I don’t like Real Madrid; we all know what happened to our boys; the US was mediocre against Venezuela; and then the U-20 national team falls to the same Venezuela in extra time to drop out of the World Cup. Sheesh.
Before getting into the ratings, a couple of points:
First, consider this: the aggregate PPG of teams we have played to date is 1.390. Atlanta United’s PPG is 1.385. That’s just 0.0049 less than our opposition. Overall, we are playing just about as well as everyone else. However, we have played 8 of 13 games on the road; across the league only Toronto FC, NYCFC and the LA Galaxy have better road records. Atlanta also has games in hand on most of the league and therefore needs to convert those (home) games in hand into points. Finally, losing on the road is largely expected in MLS, and,as TiotalFootball’s post last week suggests, we can think of this game as dropping 1 point, not 3.
Second, in last week’s ratings I talked about how deceptive the possession statistic can be. This week it was even more the case. However, despite having only a third of the possession for the game, Vancouver outshot Atlanta 16 to 7. That is, all of Atlanta’s possession turned out to be an exercise in futility. Moreover, the team looked for the most part pretty lackluster for large stretches of the game. Even before Kevin Egan mentioned it late in the game, I was reminded of the rant that Colorado Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni engaged in last week, about spirit counting more than stats. The stats were there on Saturday, but the spirit was absent.
OK, rant session over. On with this week’s Dirty South Soccer Staff Player Ratings:
For the second straight week, Man of the Match honors go to Julian Gressel. It was a close call between him and Greg Garza, but I eventually opted for Gressel on the basis that he showed more spirit throughout the game than anyone else on the team.
GK: Alec Kann – 6. Admittedly, this is a tad generous. Usually, when your side gives up three goals on set pieces., the keeper has to bear some of the blame for not setting things up correctly. But I doubt Kann could done anything to fix the traffic cone performance of his defenders. He also made three excellent saves, although the last of them unfortunately fell to Fredy Montero who was able to finish off the attempt.
RB: Tyrone Mears - 5. Mears was busy on the day, with 71 touches and 63 passes. But these were entirely unproductive, and degenerated into pointless longball: he took 18 long passes, 10 of which were unsuccessful.
CB: Michael Parkhurst - 4. Parkhurst was pretty decent on defending in open play. He was however atrocious in defending set pieces. In his defence, one corner he gave up probably should have been a throw-in. Subbed out for the first time this year in the 78th minute for Anton Walkes. This looks like it was intended as a counter for the introduction of Vancouver’s teenage phenom Alphonso Davies, but it may also have resulted from the quality of Parkhurst’s performance.
CB: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez - 5. Easily LGP’s worst game of the year. He was mostly involved on the defensive side of the ball, despite Atlanta’s extensive possession, but did have a chance on goal that was headed off the line in what was the strangest play in the whole game thanks to referee Robert Sibiga. He wasn’t any better on set pieces than Parkhurst was.
LB: Greg Garza - 7. With Mears becoming more and more ineffective on the right wing, Garza on the other side is conversely becoming increasingly active in attack. This resulted in a solid early goal, Garza’s first for the season. He followed that up with team highs of 91 touches and 75 passes.
CM: Jeff Larentowicz – 6. Larry was subbed out in the 67th minute for Kenwyne Jones, so his numbers don’t look all that great. However, he was relatively solid in his time on the pitch.
CM: Carlos Carmona – 5.C-squared (I’m going with that nickname suggestion from last week; if he wore #10 I would have gone with CC. Check the reference on that for yourselves) had an OKish game. Most of his possession was in the defensive half, but he did get a header that hit the crossbar (the woodwork at BC Place has been remarkably active of late; Vancouver themselves hit it four times last week).
CAM: Miguel Almiron - 5. As much as Miggy looked lost in the cramped confines of Yankee Stadium, he looked equally so on the expansive CFL field at BC Place. He was entirely unable to generate anything all game.
LW: Yamil Asad - 6. Asad was probably the third best player on the team this week, certainly in terms of effort. He more or less matched Almiron for touches and passes, and was running all over the field all game. But as with most of the team’s activity, it was all for naught.
RW: Julian Gressel - 7. Gressel provided the superb assist that fed Garza’s goal, and he remained very active the remainder of the game. He shifted from the right to a more central position after Jones came on, and this seemed to reduce his effectiveness somewhat. But he never gave up on the game, despite getting fairly heavy knocks on several challenges.
FWD: Tito Villalba - 5. A week after his GOTW performance, Tito was reduced to an observer for most of this game. An entirely unremarkable effort.
SUB: Kenwyne Jones - 4. Jones came on in the 67th minute, presumably to match the size of Kendall Waston. This was also a very early substitution by Martino standards. However, he was pretty much invisible his entire time on the pitch.
SUB: Anton Walkes – not rated. Replaced Parkhurst in the 78th minute, and was just as invisible as Jones.
COACH: Tata Martino - 5. Whatever it was that Tata was trying to do in this game, it clearly didn’t work.
REFEREE: Robert Sibiga - -1. We referees have a dirty little secret: we get confused about which direction play is going all the time. But we’re really good at hiding it. Sibiga blew the gaffe on that though by admitting he got the direction wrong when he called for a PK.
PLAY-BY-PLAY: Kevin Egan – 10. For being a class act as well as an excellent announcer. We’ll miss you. And good job covering while Dan Gargan’s mic gave out. It was probably fried from getting near that atrocious tie he was wearing.