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MLS Musings: Vancouver doing it with defence, Chicago’s road horrors continue

By Drew Farmer: Twitter – @CalcioFarmer

Vancouver’s defensive DP getting it done

Tied for the fewest goals in Major League Soccer this season (22), the Vancouver Whitecaps have surged to the top of the Western Conferences thanks to their defensive solidity.

Of course David Ousted and the back four have been good, but it has been the two pivots sitting in front of the backline that have prevented attacks from occurring. Defensive midfielder Matias Laba is averaging 5.2 tackles and 2.6 interceptions per game, according to WhoScored.com. Add in an 84% pass rate and Vancouver has a Designated Player worth every bit of his $325,000 salary in 2015.

Laba’s play and ability to control the game from central midfield shows the importance, if many times unspectacular and overlooked, a good defensive midfielder provides. Something MLS should invest more in.

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Six points seems so far away

After winning the previous week, Chicago Fire got back to losing ways last Friday, losing 1-0 to the Portland Timbers. Frank Yallop’s Fire have scored the third fewest goals in 2015, only Colorado Rapids and Yallop’s former team, San Jose Earthquakes, have scored fewer.

The Fire is still, somehow, only six points away from Montreal Impact in the hunt for the last spot in the MLS Playoff race. Yet, those six points seem so far away and nothing that Chicago has done to this point makes one think the team can reach the postseason.

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Chicago is the only team not to win on the road this season – losing seven away games and scoring a league low eight goals away from home.

With 12 games left to play in 2015, Chicago will play seven on the road. Six of those seven come against teams fighting for a postseason place or for a higher playoff seed. If the Fire makes the playoffs, it will truly be a miracle in the Windy City.

New York City and Jason Kreis

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Real Salt Lake surprised MLS in 2007 when it hired former player Jason Kreis as head coach. Kreis had literally just retired from playing when he became coach. His hire was the first of the current wave of former MLS players quickly becoming head coaches.

Kreis had some success, which with Real Salt Lake, was something new and exciting. In nearly seven seasons, Kreis achieved a 43% win percentage, tallying 102 wins and winning the MLS Cup in 2009.

Kreis gets a lot of respect from peers, pundits and fans. Looking at his MLS record with RSL, Kreis’ last four seasons were his most successful, including a runners-up performance in the MLS Cup 2013.

Kreis is now the man tasked with leading NYCFC’s high-priced DP’s to the promised land. But he is now coaching three players that have done everything in the game and some are questioning whether they are on the same page?

After falling behind to the Red Bulls on Sunday, NYCFC capitulated and were awful in defence as the Red Bulls picked them apart. First a low cross from near the touchline wasn’t dealt with, which defenders should have cleared or the goalkeeper should have claimed, then New York City stood around as Mike Grella dribbled past Frank Lampard and laid off a pass to Felipe to score the Red Bulls’ second goal.

The question is, is Kreis actually the man to lead the Blues forward?

Sporting Kansalona City

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For the second time Sporting KC has signed a former Barcelona youth player. The last time they did that, Oriol Rosell blossomed into a top midfielder and moved to Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon.

Now the club has dipped into La Masia, Barcelona’s famed academy, again and signed Jordi Quintilla. The Spaniard spent last season in France’s Ajaccio in Ligue 2. The attacking midfielder played 20 times, but was unable to register a goal or assist. Sporting KC will expect Quintilla to add to their attacking flavor as the club make a run for both the US Open Cup and the MLS Cup.

Listen to Drew on Radio Yorkshire MLS Monday

Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @Calciofarmer. Drew Farmer is a Manchester, England-based journalist/blogger that writes for World Soccer Talk. Drew has contributed to Radio Yorkshire MLS Monday, Forza Italian Football, Bleacher Report, MLSGB and Soccerly. Originally from southwest Missouri, Drew covers Italy’s Serie A, British football and the USA’s Major League Soccer.

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