31 March 2012

“There’s no excuses when you get to the game”

Since I'm based out of Philadelphia for the first part of this MLS season, I'll be getting to a lot of games at PPL Park when I'm not working elsewhere. I was there this afternoon, covering the Vancouver side of things for the Canadian Press (link via SportsNet) and Prost Amerika (recap, sidebar).

At the end of the day, even after writing three articles, there were still some interesting quotes that I hadn't used, including the above from Martin Rennie. So I thought I'd share them here, along with a few thoughts on the game:

“It doesn’t matter how far you travel or how you get here: There’s no excuses when you get to the game.” -- Martin Rennie
“I think [Sebastien Le Toux]’s fairly level-headed psychologically, but I do think it’s good for him to get this game out of the way and get on with the season. I think it was obviously a big deal for him – he was a fantastic player for the Philadelphia Union, and I believe he’ll be a great player for the Whitecaps as well. This is a hard-working city, and people love hard-working people, and Sebastien – you don’t get much more hard-working than he is – and we’re glad to have him. His work rate is phenomenal, and I think that’s had a big impact on our team, and we can work hard and follow suit from what he’s done. It’ll be good for him to have got this game out of the way now. He can get on with what he’s good at.” -- Martin Rennie

“It was kind of a weird game for me. I didn’t feel as clean as I normally like, whether it was the wind or the stickiness of the ground. … So if we can pull a clean sheet on days like this, that’s awesome.” -- Joe Cannon
“We’re still keeping everything scoreless for the season so far, so that’s a huge positive, but if we can’t turn that into goals at the other end, then a point’s not really good enough in the long run. We need to keep working on it, keep creating, and we need to be more accountable for how we finish in the final third.” -- Jay DeMerit
 Three quick thoughts:
  1. Peter Nowak is clearly the least predictable manager in MLS. His team never seems to line up the same way twice, and nobody I talked to had any inkling that Chandler Hoffman would start. I wonder how many different formations Philadelphia used in preseason, and how many times they've played in each one, because they don't truly look comfortable in any of them. It's a 4-4-1-1 one game and a 3-5-2 the next, a 5-4-1 / 3-4-3 the next, and a 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 that looks like a 4-2-4 the next. Call me stuck in the mud, but I'm of the opinion a team would do better if it played one formation all the time, with slight variations here and there based on the personnel and opponent.
  2. John Thorrington's return and health are key to Vancouver's offense. Everybody's all over Vancouver for its lack of offense at the moment, but from where I sit, much of that lack of offense has to do with the midfield. Jun Marques Davidson, Matt Watson, Gershon Koffie are all steady players, but I don't think the passing quality is there. Thorrington is hard enough to do the dirty work and skilled enough (when healthy and in a groove) to be a skilled complement to Chiumiento, Camilo, and Le Toux. I believe Davidson/Thorrington is Rennie's preferred D-mid pairing in the 4-2-3-1 he seems to favor, so getting Thorrington confident and comfortable should open up Vancouver's true firepower.
  3. Philadelphia is chippy. This shouldn't really be a surprise, but it springs to mind every time I see the Union play. Every field player who went 90 minutes committed at least two fouls in the game, while halftime sub Michael Farfan committed three (Philadelphia totaled 20 to Vancouver's 13). Perhaps not coincidentally, the three players subbed out - Lopez, Hoffman, Daniel - combined for one.

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