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Longshore Previews Atlanta United and NYCFC

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((HT: CBS46 Atlanta/Emily Gagnon’s Twitter))

Atlanta United color commentator and SDH Top Dawg was a guest with Emily Gagnon on the Saturday Sports product discussing the United-NYCFC match and was asked about the absence of “Tata” Martino on the touch line…

Kickoff at the top of the hour on ESPN and 92.9 The Game

NPSL Northeast Week 11 Review/Preview

NPSL Official Logo 2016

In the Northeast/Atlantic Blue, it’s Elm City Express that continues to impress in their first season- a 4-point weekend with a draw against Hartford City and a win over Seacoast Phantoms put them on top (10 points). Creative Motion Video has the Hartford highlights

Brooklyn Italians beat Cosmos B to stay second (6 points) and Cosmos B (4 points) turned around and beat TSF FC. TSF, Greater Lowell, and Seacoast Phantoms all have three points this season to date. TSF beat Greater Lowell and Phantoms beat Seacoast Mariners in a cross-over.

This week, Brooklyn hosts TSF and Elm City in a big early-season match-up. TSF also travel to Phantoms Sunday. Cosmos B goes to Phantoms and host Greater Lowell.

Atlantic White has Hartford City, Stockade, Boston City, and Rhode Island all within a win in the standings. Stockade had a 6-point week with wins over NYAC and Rhode Island. Reds started their week with a win over Seacoast Mariners.

This week, Hartford City hosts Stockade, the Reds hosts NYAC, and Boston City hosts Mariners.

The Keystone Conference got underway with some biog numbers last weekend. Junior Lone Star put 4 on Buxmont Torch for a win. Clarkstown put 5 on Greater Binghamton. West Chester United put 4 on Hershey FC…

And Electric City and NJ Copa drew at 1… watch that match here…

This week, Buxmont visits Hershey and West Chester. Electric City goes to Binghamton and Clarkstown hosts NJ Copa.

In the Mid-Atlantic, Fredericksburg played twice winning at Legacy 76 and losing to VBC FC. This week, FC Frederick starts their season- hosting Legacy 76.

Another Episode of “When Electronics Fail”

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A lot of you in the SDH footprint knew about (and were, probably, present) when this happened over the weekend…

But this one happened in Chattanooga… same issue, same solution…

Good on you both!

Nicely done… and the HQ thinks that the solution might be right in front of us all for future anthems…

The Monday Rear View: Get Back…

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WHATCHA GONNA DO, BROTHER…???!!!

The short answer is: “Get Back…”

After six of seven on the road, it’s time for the Concrete and Cherry Pie kits to be put away more often than not…

And, prevailing opinion taking hold here, the team might be a week or two away from being at full song since the Minnesota United match- and we all know how that went. First things first, though, congratulations to The Ol’ 2-4 for this moment in Portland

Going deeper here… it’s something that the side can file away as an interesting wrinkle to the line-up. With Gressel and Almiron switching places on this run- Gressel inside and Almiron out- it gave the opportunity that created the goal. The defense went with Almiron as Gressel leaked in behind and shot with his left.

1-nil…

And you have to give it up for keeper Alec Kann, who is making it very difficult for Brad Guyzan when he shows up- even as United asked if Middlesbrough would let him go early… and they STILL said “no” after being relegated…

The fans didn’t want him around any more, did they, after 2 nutmegs in the 3-0 loss to Chelsea…???

But back to Kann… four more saves to boost his total to 34 and this one late kept it tied at ones… thanks to the Timbers their own selves…

Possession was taking advantage of the situation in the midfield left by the absence of Darlington Nagbe and Atlanta showed patience and pace. Just “SHOOT,” okay…???

But Adi made no friends on the Atlanta side with this page out of the Maradona playbook: Hashtag “Sistine Chapel”

And Alan Kelly made no friends- especially after not calling… what’s the word we’re looking for… oh, yeah… “A LOT!”

And that’s one of the more tame responses… Here’s the highlights to watch stuff for yourself, thanks to ESPN and MLS their own selves…

And, if you want to itemize the whole match go here- until it gets pulled…

The match with Houston could be FIFA 17 revisited with all the speed around- Quioto, Elis, Manotas, and Cubo Torres versus Atlanta…

Find your seat belts, y’all…

The Monday Rear View (On A Tuesday): R-E-L-A-X

Let’s just start things this way, courtesy of a Green Bay QB:

And, I know, that you may not want the whole thing, but here’s the highlights… Or, if you’re an Atlanta United fan… the highlights from the first 20 minutes and the rest of the match…

So, Dear Reader… What say you about the two different matches you saw on a Sunday…???

If the two overlaps that gave Tito Villaba point-blank opportunities that were parried by the all-worldy Bill Hamid in the DCU net, this. game. is. over. That, I think, we can all agree on.

(sidebar: DCU fans need to keep an eye on Hamid’s hamstring/quad which seemed to get tweaked in a scrum in the first half. It led to other players reintroducing the ball into play. Travis Worra warmed up on the side of the pitch getting ready if Hamid couldn’t continue for DCU. It would have been a bit of a drop off, but Worra started in 13 matches in 2016 and had four clean sheets.)

I know that we all look at “Tata” Martino’s game and think something like this every single offensive possession:

((HT: Warner Brothers Pictures))

And, yes, I know that was “Major League 2” instead of the original…

How do you adjust…??? The league now has a book on you as a starting pitcher… How do you change your pitching approach now that folks know what they’re looking at…

Who works…? Who works where…? Who’s healthy…? All that stuff… There’s nothing wrong with trying to run the opposition out of the building, but when the roster isn’t at full song it takes some adjustments.

But, look at the DCU match this way…

It’s not one of those situations where the wheels COMPLETELY fell off, but it is something to look at going forward. DC United stifled Atlanta United in the midfield by clogging it all up- even moreso when they had a lead. The air was taken out of the ball and, when you look at the numbers, it showed. But it showed differently…

If that makes any sense… All the time of possession advantage meant was they held the ball trying to find something to do with it… and DCU wouldn’t let them…

Here’s some empirical proof… thanks to our friends at Analysis Evolved…

Larentowicz. Asad. Peterson. The return of Goslin and Carleton. The DisCo on elbows.

Those questions remain as the team heads to Yankee Stadium and Portland- trying to get some points on the road that they’re not getting (surprisingly) at home…

But Tom Petty presents the last point for the day…

Everything will be okay…

The Monday Rear View: Bring A Sweater

Full props to SDH Major Domo Jason Longshore who predicted the final score and nailed the perfecta- all we need to do now is take the man to the horse track and cash in quickly…

Unfortunately, he would have to travel out of state to make that happen- or chase an OTB joint down somewhere…

Here’s your proof he was 100% correct…

((HT: MLS))

And what you saw was two musicians trying to play frantically on stage, but only one of the bands could keep the beat… Think of the bands you listen to and how they are live in concert… Some come out on stage, play for 1:45 without a break and get on the bus. Then, you have a band that knows how to go off on solos, but can come back to square and complete the show before curfew…

Example…

14 minutes, everyone gets a solo, and the song is a different version of one you knew off the album when you bought it (and, yes, I just dated myself with the vinyl reference).

Or, look at it this way… one statistic that you look at that has NO MEANING whatsoever with this particular approach with Atlanta United is the “dreaded time of possession” stat. Short of a Chicago-10 man situation where the percentage is an 80-20 dominance, it will be rare for the Five Stripes to lead in the category.

Phrase of advice: Do not get wrapped up in this… At. All. Example- Real Salt Lake had a 55-45 percentage advantage and we saw what happened…

Another antiquated reference… Remember this offense from, oh, 30 years ago…???

All the weapons Jim Kelly had in Houston (or Kurt Warner in St. Louis) had one objective- and to be quick about it…

Bottom line: If you know where you’re going and the other guy has to react to what you already know, you’re a step ahead in the game…

That should be the way to approach the upcoming match with DC United…

Act and react, force the hand, and the three points should be there…

What say you, fellow SDH’ers…??? Play it safe, everyone… We’ll see you soon…

The Five Stripes Unite with the Hawks

As part of FOX Sports South’s April in the ATL promotion, Atlanta United went on a field trip last night to Philips Arena for the Hawks’ game against Charlotte.

Captain Michael Parkhurst and former Atlanta Braves infielder Nick Green joined Olivia Harlan for an interview:

Goalkeeper Alec Kann and Braves’ legend Andruw Jones also caught up with Olivia during the game:

Very cool to see Atlanta United in the mix, supporting the city’s other teams.

Five methods of success for the Five Stripes

Atlanta United has been a success.

Despite nitpicks around the league it’s hard to argue with the numbers simply because running teams off the field on paper is different than actually doing it.

How are they doing it? The number five seems to be very popular. The five stripes name — as debatable as it may be — fits how Atlanta has built a winner: by excelling in five on-field areas.

Designated players

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(Credit: Dave Williamson Photography)

Well this one got knocked out of the park. Atlanta started by signing Hector Villalba and starting a speed trend. Adding Miguel Almiron and asking him to pull the strings from the midfield has led to talk of the next MLS superstar. Josef Martinez — added on loan after a move for Oscar Romero was hijacked by China — has made his personal goal to round every ‘keeper in the league.

Martinez’s option to buy wasn’t an issue given Atlanta’s deep pockets. Villalba and Almiron were purchased outright and signified Atlanta’s determination to dive head first into the league’s trend of acquiring young exciting designated players as opposed to veterans.

Money played a big role in these moves, let’s not get that twisted. But if we go down the money route let’s give the front office credit for scouting and spending on players that fit the system instead of just throwing money at a name simply because #Zlatlanta is a catching slogan.

International Signings

With the limited number of international slots in MLS Atlanta United as always going to have to get creative if they wanted to hand the reigns of this team over to Eales and Martino. The first two international moves (which now don’t actually count against the international slots. Funny how that works…) were Chris McCann and Kenwyne Jones. Both are international veterans that brought experience and success at respected levels of competition.

That’s been a theme. Look at the other signings and be impressed. Carlos Carmona has fit into Martino’s plan nicely and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez looks like an angry rock next to clever league veteran Michael Parkhurst.

There’s also Yamil Asad and we’re running out of nice things to say about him. Asad left his family’s shadow and took the left wing spot with no intention of giving it back. There were some risks with Atlanta’s team building and this was a big one but man has it paid off.

Atlanta has also managed to stuff players like Romario Williams in Charleston while they develop behind a backlog of attacking talent, building the team’s weapons cache for the future.  

MLS veterans

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(Credit: Dave Williamson Photography)

This might be where Atlanta really pulled away from Minnesota in team building, though they had more time to do so.

Atlanta was aggressive in grabbing veteran and captain Michael Parkhurst along with league veterans Jeff Larentowicz, Mark Bloom, Alex Kann, Tyrone Mears, Zach Loyd and Jacob Peterson.

The thing with all of these signings is that they’re all reasonable for anyone. None of them really broke the bank and in a league where TAM and GAM are being passed out like crazy it’s reasonable to ask while Minnesota or other teams weren’t able to land some of them.

This isn’t exactly a line up of current all-star but they’re the kind of players that make your entire roster better and for a team making noise for international moves, the spine of this team is very familiar with a tough and unique league.

Drafting

Let’s have some fun here because we’d be burying the lede if we mentioned anything other than the fact that Atlanta is rolling a German tank out in the midfield every week and I’m not sure anyone saw it coming.

Julian Gressel pulled an Asad and forced his way into the starting 11 with brilliant play in the preseason and despite a pedestrian season opener he’s started demanding league-wide attention and way-too-early rookie of the year talk.

Gressel was a flexible weapon in college and has fit in flawlessly as a midfielder who seems to understand what is asked of him and works to perform his duties as well as possible.  

Miles Robinson was the second overall pick and has all the tools to be one of the better defenders in the league. While not necessarily ready to step in today he’s playing and learning behind veterans and team leaders like Parkhurst and Pirez. Robinson should see the field this year, especially as the season gets more cramped and complex. We can get a better idea of his raw potential then.

Third round pick Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu fought his way into the squad after four stellar years at Harvard. The defensive midfielder actually contributed to the offense at times while in school and could have the skill set to make an impact in Martino’s system.

Academy Production

The rock upon which Atlanta built it’s franchise. Before there were stars there were kids and Atlanta decided to grow them much in the way Marvin the Martian grew those fuzzy green martians: quickly and efficiently with intimidating intentions. We are starting to see it more around the league; teams investing in their academies and taking advantage of the league’s unique financial structure that rewards growth from within.

Atlanta took the initiative and absorbed one of the top academies in the soccer hotbed that is Georgia and instantly signed two of the most exciting kids in the nation to home-grown contracts. The headliner being midfield sensation Andrew Carleton who currently unable to legally but tobacco but looks like he could hold his own if thrown into the fray.

Chris Goslin was the second home-grown signing and has played second fiddle to Carleton in many casual eyes. Don’t let that distract you from the fact that he has spent time with the U-17 national team and was thought highly enough of by the club to sign at 17.

Two home-grown players aside, Atlanta has amassed an army of talent at different age groups. You should never expect every prospect to hit but Atlanta laid the groundwork ahead of time and has options in an ever hanging league.

The NASL’s “March To November”

The North American Soccer League will be up and running for real this weekend as well… And, here’s a look at their new ad promoting their season and the race to a championship…

The broadcast schedule was also announced Wednesday across ESPN3 and beINSportUS
((HT: The NASL their own selves))