Handsitter FC (Breakdown of the KC-Chicago game)

Hello all.  We have some analysis from the game this past Sunday.  It comes from a fellow fan that is on Big Soccer and who sometimes will join the Cauldron on game day.  If you don’t get the Handsitter FC reference feel free to ask🙂

Anyway, here it is.

OG

Handsitter FC

Hello from Handsitter FC. I will be checking in here from time to time to deliver some content on our beloved KC Wizards.  Primarily it will be some game analysis and player breakdowns and opinions but, those of you that know me know that I can tend to stray sometimes into other contexts of reference. Yes I grew up in a cable era household so yes my thoughts stay on track for about 3 minutes at a time before they need to see what else is there is.

Anyway, the Chicago Fire was in town Sunday on a lovely afternoon game at the CAB. The Wizards desperate for playoff points had every break go their way coming in with DC, NY, CO dropping all their points the day before. This set the table up for KC to take some control of their playoff destiny. Well the Fire boasts the leagues best road record and wasn’t just going to lie down easily. Thus a pretty even game ensued and two moments of brilliance occurred that ended up being the story line of the game. However, those moments of brilliance were both good and bad and both came from the same player, Michael Harrington. The end result was a 1-1 tie with Harrington absurdly doing his best Tony Gonzalez imitation in the box during the 44th minute thus resulting in a converted PK to break the half. The ensuing second half saw the score line quickly corrected within minutes by the same man crossing up his defender and deftly curling in a shot to the far post to draw everything back even. This held up to be the final, somewhat disappointing result.

Overall: (In short)

The Wizards played fairly well against a very tough defensive opponent. Harrington canceled out his error but still we’re dropping points at an absolute crucial time in the season. Mike – don’t do that ever again! This team is also finally (trying) to start beating players one v one and create their own play instead of the one the defense is giving them.

THE DEFENSE & NET MINDING:

As a unit they bent but didn’t break. Look facing a team that fields McBride, Blanco, Thorrington, Mapp, and Rolfe will make you be sure you’ve got your work cut out for you. Although some opportunities got through, and in my opinion there were too many dead ball fouls in dangerous spots, the Defense & more specifically Kevin Hartman did their jobs well on Sunday.

Hartman:
A perfect game and my Man of the Match! He simply was Johnny on the spot all game long. His positioning and execution of decision all game long was spot on. He pulled and/or punched the ball right off of a Fire players head at least 4 different times in this game – trust me when I say he had to.

An absolute snuff save on a hard shot from Mapp one on one in the first half was fantastic. Then he swatted another chance right off the feet of Mapp again later on a through ball just wide of the six with a great layout and slide. Lastly the save sequence on that second half offside volley was El Gato at his finest, but the job wasn’t done yet on the play, he was immediately up to smother the deflected dropping ball only to get a Blanco boot to the gloves with his right and a step through that raked across his face with Blanco’s left. Mr. White for all of his villainy was truly just circumstance and not intent but hey we all like to give it to the bad guy right! Who can fault a keep on not stopping a well placed PK?

Harrington:
First off Mike’s not allowed to play pickup Basketball anymore in his downtime. In a Donovan-esque move but in the worst possible place, he fell victim to that undeniable magical force that sometimes takes over players brains and causes them to want to touch the orb. Newsflash, this is like crossing the streams with Dr. Venkman’s unit, bad things happen, gregarious amounts of slime, dogs and cats sleeping together etc… got it. Thank you for correcting that little mishap and putting proper again.

For the rest of the game he was up and down the flank without really ever putting the backline at risk. There were a number of times where Blanco would get the ball and Mike would run him down even though there was already defensive coverage if he advanced much further. This is what I really dig about Harrington. The guy flat out is unopposed to correcting himself or trying new things. He keeps the right attitude about it and is driven to succeed with the criticisms and errors as correctional indicators. I hope this one gets signed to the blue guys to a nice long contract. He could be an anchor for years to come.

Conrad:
Well what more can you say, he’s got a little Capt’n in him. From watching the game live and then again via DVR one can’t really appreciate just how good Conrad can be when he’s on an “A” game via TV. The live JC is time after time breaking up plays, covering for others, running down wingers, and almost always with a certain grace on the ball effectively shielding it or touching it just away with a certain intellectual calm. Just when you begin to believe he’s the thinking mans Center Back, there he is taking a cross to the face in the corner or getting up in Blanco’s business for raking a left foot across Hartman’s face. This man is simply superb in so many facets of his game. One wonders why he’s not seen much in camp for the National Team anymore or what our season could’ve looked like if Garcia were still on board. (C’mon he won’t be that old for WC2010).

Wahl:
A solid game from him. I can’t really tell much difference between him and Holbein from the perspective of the swap. I guess the rule of thumb is to not get hurt or injured for any length of time because it’s a coin flip between the two as to who should be Conrad’s compliment. Once you’re in, you’re the reigning incumbent until you pick up a knock. This club needs to be so thankful that Conrad’s been so durable this season not that either of these two are bad players, but I couldn’t imagine an entire half season with that level of experience as the default. I wouldn’t mind a 4-5 year MLS’r with us as a transition for Conrad coverage while these two continue to improve.

Leathers:
Decent game, not as good getting forward as Harrington is on the other side but no major gaffs to note. Leathers seems like he’s the best man for the Right Back role for the team. Jewsbury’s attempted conversion was mixed results and it seems Myers simply has confidence/maturity issues only to be reinforced with an errant stabs at the ball if he does play. No question this is a tale of two seasons for Leathers. The one he started while our #1 draft pick was injured early on, and then the second after he came back from the U23 invitational tournament  early midseason. You saw a different player return, and not anything that I attribute to Nowak, but one I attribute to the experience overall. When you get a taste of another level it’s hard not to be hungry for it. Still part of me still thinks this position needs something a level higher. Leathers is the best of our current rotation but I still think he’s a solid #2 grade where he’s at now. For a team that really needs to be running more 3 back formations given their personnel, Leathers is not one of those types of backs for such a thing.

THE MIDFIELD:
The 4 Horseman – Souter, Arnaud, Jewsbury, Gomez all can certainly run and gun like a herd of wild mustangs. The reality is they’re more like Hemi charged muscle cars from the late 60’s. The only problem with those Hemi cars is they only work really well going in straight lines – don’t try and make that corner at anything above 30mph. No, no road courses for these guys, just really good straight line triangles and flank runs. This would work great if the team played with dual target checking back forwards to get a picket fence type vertical in and out thing but we don’t. Since the ultimate failure of Carlos Marinelli to stay healthy, stay out of triple teams, and stay in the right frame of mind, we are ultimately left without a tempo changer and/or specialized creative talent get defenders second guessing their assignments and positioning. [cough] Christian Gomez or Amado Guevara in the off season please [cough]. Morsink like I mentioned with Leathers in my opinion is a maturing but still only a solid #2 for such a position.

Offensively the midfield was good a breaking down the Fire’s flanks with combinations from the middle mids and forwards. They were completely unsuccessful with the big Burciaga-esque diagonals from the other side. Cut that out please.

Defensively the midfield consisted of Jack technically as the Defensive Mid but with him and Arnaud in the middle it’s more like “dude we’re both going up and both of us know enough to hustle our butts back and cover”. Both are work rate and guys and good two way midfielders.

Souter:
Love the success story for this guy. Walk on, first appearance against LA, picks off Becks, next game a goal, gets on the weekly TV show explaining his personal/professional goals with the next one getting his first MLS start before this season was over. All of these were written goals for himself before the season and he has accomplished all of them. As for the game he showed consistently well and until Sunday I couldn’t really tell what he brings. It’s starting to develop now and much of has to do with understanding that his body is all part of playing the ball. By this I mean his ability to shield/receive/turn/advance/deliver as all part of one singular motion in tight spacing without the need to touch/chip/trap etc… He is aware of pressure without looking for it and tends to singularly move with the ball into the only available space. Good work rate too. I think he’s going to be a keeper for a few more seasons at this rate.

Arnaud:
Seemed to fade a bit as the game wore on and Center Mid is not his best spot. I’d really like to see a way to get him wide and running at the outside channels rather than running into the wall going up the middle.

Jewsbury:
So far, I think we’ve found his home. With the retirement of Zavagnin and unsure what to make of Morsink this guy thinks it’s a great fit for Jack. His distribution ability is a plus there and he is one of the few that can hit a shot low and strong from distance.

Gomez:
To borrow from another observation, Kansas City sports fans recognize and appreciate work ethic when they see it. That is one reason Arnaud was a crowd favorite long before he had stats to back anything up; Gomez is much the same – at least you know he’s giving you his all. Gomez at the moment is definitely a bright spot of anything brought in new to the club this season. I hope the rest of our team stays after practice with him to just sit and learn how to take a proper dead ball with driven accuracy, proper power, and an appropriate dip or swerve. I think he’s found a home at Right Mid for us. Overall he had a good game and was constantly getting down deep before crossing. Only the last 15 minutes of the game or so did you see him revert to our team curse of trying to cross a diagonal ball in from 30-35 yards out. Most of those were easily picked up by Busch without issue or were no trouble for a defense set and facing the play the whole way.

OFFENSE & FORWARDS:

Overall we did some things right, we did some things half assed. We appropriately shot from distance; we inappropriately tried too many touches once we got actually in the box. Late in the second half our midfielders were getting frustrated because every time they looked up while bringing the ball forward you saw three guys all posted up, none of them moving, making space or drawing out a defender. This falls back into the criticism of this team that everyone off the ball is truly who dictates the play; they were all waiting for a play or to be directed at what to do. Problem is by the time the midfielder has brought the ball up to around 25 yards out the defense is just sitting there waiting to cut off the pass.

Thompson:
Average game from him however he seems to have lost that extra sting he had to his first full game against the Galaxy. If you recall he won just about everything that went his way and provided excellent defensive pressure on the back line. That seems to have softened a bit in the last two. I can’t tell you enough what it means as a former Center Back when you hear people preach that defense starts with the forwards. Just a simply ¾ speed challenge with intent will force many backline players to cough up a hospital ball to someone or even a just a straight turnover. I think he’s a good prospect and Onalfo claims he’s not 90 minutes fit yet. A solid off-season and maybe dropping a little Shavar weight might help him. Side note, I’ve started calling him Prison Break as he always seems to have his eyebrows touching in a sinister like focus just like that actor does all the way through that stupid show.

Wolff:
Mr. Everywhere on Sunday. No one covered more field or distance than Josh. I know that’s hard to say in our new found roles for Gomez/Arnaud/Jewsbury but he was. I kept looking up and seeing play after play being made by #16. He was single handedly willing his team to get a better result against Chicago. Just came up short.

Subs:
Trujillo:
Honestly didn’t know that he’d subbed on for Thompson until I caught it on my DVR. He was a non-factor for the most part.

Espinoza:
His early season troubles behind him, he is turning up to be a decent player. The elements lacking in his game are from experience and first team time. He gets a rookie pass for this season but the ensuing charge from Souter for his spot means he’s going to need a good off-season to see consistent time. In the world of MLS left mid’s, we have a couple of decent ones which isn’t an easy thing to have. The competition at this spot and with Harrington being capable of slotting in, it’s a good thing to have.

Watson:
Has all the heart, desire and skills in the world to be a true pro however his presence is just simply not felt when he’s on the field. One has to wonder how much longer he’ll remain with the club as regardless of all of his effort, he just simply doesn’t bring anything a notch different or better than what we already have 2 deep at the Right Mid position. Given his overall stature and like skill set, it’s going to be a tough sell next contract time.

Coaching:
I don’t lay any fault on coaching for this game as it was the unorthodox actions of an individual that was the story line. I generally agreed with his subs. He needs to be careful about getting too many “system” guys like Gansler did where when subs came in the were the exact clone of the person they were replacing, nothing fancy, just guys who could play a system and not necessarily someone who could just flat out play.

I really want to like Onalfo, but in comparison, coming into this game the Wizards stood just 3 points (1 win) ahead of the decrepit Galaxy. Which by the way is a club that has won exactly 1 game in their last 14 matches, faced an overthrow in a GM and coach, have had many of their feature players gone for International Friendlies and Qualifiers where we have had none of that. The stats are not in his favor, the PR is.

Fire Notables:

Blanco: The perfect villain for MLS and the richest treasure the league has.

McBride: Quiet day really. Still runs like he’s traversing deep snow in sox.

Soumare: What a beast this guy is. Where do we sign him?

Thorrington: Skinny, Squirrelly little guy who seems to do all the right things.

Mapp: Johnny Fever called, he wants his haircut back

Gutierrez: A salute to a true professional and class act. Sad to see your retirement.

I think that’s enough for now and in the spirit of the season I’m Andy Beechy and I approved this message.

One Response to Handsitter FC (Breakdown of the KC-Chicago game)

  1. John says:

    On the mark with most of the comments. I like Souter too but he seems so much better as a change of pace guy off the bench. I did notice everytime he made a bad pass or missed an open guy he got yelled at by Davy and Josh and it seemed to rattle him a bit. He faded in the 2nd half. Abe was invisible again for most of the game.
    Spot on with the Onalfo comment. I don’t see him being the excellent tactician/coach that everyone raves about. So what if he was under Arena and in the National Team scene for many years. I know a bunch of guys he worked under great leaders that I would never put in a position of power. Vermes for me is iffy also, specially with the South American players brought in.

    Keep up the great work.

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