Sporting Kansas City vs Columbus Crew | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Sporting Kansas City vs Columbus Crew

Children’s Mercy Park – Sunday, May 27th 2018 – 18:00 ET (23:00 BST)

UK TV Coverage – Live on Sky Sports Football

Sporting Kansas City vs Columbus Crew: Preview

Sporting Kansas City welcome Columbus Crew to Children’s Mercy Park in Sunday’s lone MLS fixture. They are both in great form and so both will be looking to mark their superiority with another three points here.

The hosts come into the weekend at the top of the Western Conference. They will stay their regardless of results this weekend but will be hoping to add another three points to their tally of 24 points from 12 games.

Peter Vermes’ men have lost just one of their last 11 games and are unbeaten in three coming into Sunday’s contest. They are a really tough outfit to break down at home and so the Crew have their work cut out if they are to take points back to Columbus.

However, the visitors couldn’t arrive in much better confidence. They have rolled off three-straight wins and sit just one point behind Atlanta United at the top of the East heading into the weekend’s fixtures.

The Crew haven’t conceded a goal in any of their last four games and are currently unbeaten in six. They will be looking to frustrate SKC on Sunday, before hitting them on the break whenever possible. New York City FC executed that strategy to perfection on the opening weekend and remain the only side to have won in Kansas City this season.

The worry for Columbus is that they have now managed to take anything away from Sporting KC since 2012. They’ve lost each of their last four MLS games at SKC, conceding 11 goals in the process. Their lone meeting last season ended in a 1-1 draw at MAPFRE Stadium.

Sporting Kansas City vs Columbus Crew: Team News

Sporting KC

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Jimmy Medranda (undisclosed injury).

🚑 Out: Felipe Gutierrez (sports hernia surgery), Colton Storm (ankle sprain).

Columbus Crew

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: None.

🚑 Out: Pedro Santos (right thigh injury).

Sporting Kansas City vs Columbus Crew: Key Stats

Sporting KC’s MLS form: W/L/W/W/D

Columbus Crew’s MLS form: W/D/W/W/W

Key stat: There has never been a 0-0 draw between these sides in 20 years of clashes. Their last five meetings have had an average of 3.8 goals per game.

Sporting Kansas City vs Columbus Crew: Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 1-1 Columbus Crew: This is a really tricky one to call. Sporting Kansas City are in good form and are a real force at home. They sit top of the West for a reason and will be relishing the challenge of an in-form Crew side. But the form Columbus are in means it’s hard to see them losing. They have been solid defensively and should create problems for Sporting KC here. Score draw.

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New York Red Bulls vs Philadelphia Union | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: New York Red Bulls vs Philadelphia Union

Red Bull Arena – Saturday, May 26th 2018 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

UK TV Coverage – Live on Sky Sports Football

New York Red Bulls vs Philadelphia Union: Preview

Saturday evening sees New York Red Bulls welcome Philadelphia Union to Red Bull Arena. The Eastern Conference rivals are separated by seven points ahead of the tie.

It’s been a very good run of form for the home side. They have won four on the bounce, coming into the game off the back of their 3-1 away win against Atlanta.

That win last time out was made all the more impressive as Jesse Marsch’s side came back from 1-0 to take all three points back to New York. More of the same will be expected from the Red Bulls faithful here.

Philadelphia Union have bounced back. They have won their last two after losing two on the bounce and now is the time for them to find some consistency.

A 4-1 win last time out against RSL was exactly the kind of performance the Union needed to produce having previously won 2-0 against Montreal.

If history is anything to go by, Philadelphia fans can expect a difficult game with a slim chance of taking anything away with them – managing just one win in the all-time series on the road.

New York Red Bulls vs Philadelphia Union: Team News

New York Red Bulls

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Marc Rzatkowski (calf injury), Kemar Lawrence (head injury) and Tyler Adams (knee).

🌏 International Duty: Fidel Escobar and Derrick Etienne Jr.

🚑 Out: Kyle Duncan (torn right ACL) and Luis Robles (knee injury).

Philadelphia

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: None.

🌏 International Duty: None.

🚑 Out: Richie Marquez (sports hernia surgery) and Joshua Yaro (concussion).

New York Red Bulls vs Philadelphia Union: Key Stats

New York Red Bulls’ MLS form: L/W/W/W/W

Philadelphia Union’s MLS form: W/L/L/W/W

Key stat: Philadelphia Union have won just once away at New York Red Bulls in the all-time series.

New York Red Bulls vs Philadelphia Union: Prediction

New York Red Bulls 2-1 Philadelphia Union: Despite winning three of their last five, Philadelphia Union have struggled to make much of an impact away against New York Red Bulls. Jesse Marsch will be expecting his side to continue their winning streak but will be more than aware of the threat the Union pose.

Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake

CenturyLink Field – Saturday, May 26th 2018 – 17:00 ET (22:00 BST)

UK TV Coverage – Live on Sky Sports Football

Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake: Preview

Seattle Sounders take on Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening in a clash between two Western Conference rivals desperate to turn their form around. The two sides have lost 11 games combined already this season and need to improve. They will meet again next weekend at Rio Tinto Stadium so this is a big two weeks for both sides.

Seattle have only played nine games, fewer than anyone else in the West. But they have only managed to pick up eight points (2-5-2). They had mixed results in last week’s double gameweek, winning 2-1 at Toronto FC before losing 1-0 to a late goal at fierce rivals Portland Timbers.

The Sounders have a whole host of injuries to deal with and so Brian Schmetzer is having a tough job in getting men on the field. They will be glad to be returning home this weekend though, as they are unbeaten at home to Real Salt Lake in over six years.

RSL are not playing to the level many thought they would this season. Yes, it’s still early enough for them to turn it around, but they have lost three of their last four games. To make matters worse, they’ve conceded 11 goals in their past four games so defensively they are a mess at the moment.

Mike Petke has watched his side lose five-straight away games. They took a point on opening weekend at FC Dallas but that remains their only road point from their past seven MLS games away from Rio Tinto.

The two sides met twice last season, with both sides taking a home victory each. The Sounders won 1-0 at CenturyLink last May in similarly bad form to that they are in now. But their win over RSL last May saw them turn things around as they only lost two of their next 18 matches after that win. And it was actually Real Salt Lake who ended the 13-game Sounders unbeaten run in September.

Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake: Team News

Seattle Sounders

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Nicolas Lodeiro (toe fracture).

🚑 Out: Jordan Morris (torn ACL), Victor Rodriguez (right knee arthroscopy), Roman Torres (right hamstring strain), Osvaldo Alonso (left quad strain), Will Bruin (left heel pain).

Real Salt Lake

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Joao Plata (quad injury).

🚑 Out: Tony Beltran (right knee surgery), Jordan Allen (knee injury), Alex Horwath (Achilles surgery), Shawn Barry (knee), Demar Phillips (ankle injury).

Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake: Key Stats

Seattle Sounders’ MLS form: W/L/D/W/L

Real Salt Lake’s MLS form: W/L/L/W/L

Key stat: The home side has been victorious in this fixture in the past 13 MLS meetings. The last time the away side took a point from this fixture was 2012.

Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake: Prediction

Seattle Sounders 2-1 Real Salt Lake: Both sides have problems to deal with and poor defensive records to try and fix. That should lead to both sides finding the net but the trend of the home side winning this fixture could well continue. Real Salt Lake’s shocking away form is a major concern so it’s hard to look past the Sounders just edging this one.

Former Liverpool CEO Ian Ayre announced as Nashville MLS Chief Executive in standout move

Nashville MLS have made a huge statement of intent ahead of their league debut in 2020 by announcing former Liverpool FC Chief Executive Ian Ayre as their first CEO. The Englishman was named Premier League Chief Executive of the Year in 2017 and will relocate to Nashville with his family this summer.

Ayre will instantly begin work on building and leading the Nashville MLS club ahead of their league debut, which is expected to arrive in the 2020 season. The 55-year-old spent 10 successful years with Liverpool and was responsible for restructuring the club at all levels. The fact they are now preparing for a UEFA Champions League final with Real Madrid speaks volumes of the foundations Ayre laid.

He left his post with Liverpool at the end of the 2016/17 Premier League season and then served briefly as managing director of 1860 Munich. However, he left his role with the German side after just a few weeks because of what he deemed “warring factions” within the ownership group. He should have no such problem with Nashville as they have further outlined their bold ambitions of making an immediate impact in Major League Soccer with the acquisition of Ian Ayre.

“We are committed to bringing world-class soccer to Nashville, as evidenced by the appointment of Ian as our CEO,” John Ingram, lead owner of Nashville MLS said. “Ian understands our vision for Nashville MLS and has the skill and experience to bring the best in soccer to our city. His passion for the sport and the business of the game, along with his progressive approach and commitment to community, will help us create Nashville’s MLS club while elevating soccer in Music City and MLS. I’m delighted to welcome him to Nashville and our club!”

As well as overseeing the successful $160 million stadium expansion of Anfield during his time with Liverpool, Ayre was directly responsible for all player transfers, including contract negotiations. He helped acquire the likes of Phillipe Coutinho, Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Manè during his time with the Reds. While also working with top-class coaches such as Rafa Benitez, Brendan Rodgers and Jurgen Klopp.

“The opportunity to put Nashville on the national and international soccer map is a truly outstanding challenge, and I literally cannot wait to get started,” Ian Ayre said. “Becoming chief executive officer of the Nashville MLS club is a unique opportunity in the global soccer community. To take what is essentially a blank sheet of paper and build an entire club is an amazing challenge, and one I am hugely excited about.”

Nashville was awarded Major League Soccer’s 24th club in December 2017, and enthusiasm for soccer continues to grow in Music City. CONCACAF recently announced Nashville as a host city of the 2019 Gold Cup. Nashville Soccer Club, the city’s USL club, launched in spring 2018.

Sounders switch up style with 5-4-1 formation producing mixed results

The Seattle Sounders introduced a new formation on their two-match road trip that culminated in a disappointing 1-0 loss to rivals Portland Timbers. Head coach Brian Schmetzer first unveiled the 5-4-1 on the road facing Toronto FC knowing he would be missing multiple starters to injury and as a result of being rested, so a more defensive formation was needed. Osvaldo Alonso and Nicolas Lodeiro missed the trip due to injury and Clint Dempsey stayed home to rest for the Portland Timbers match on Sunday, meaning goals would be at a premium for Seattle. Ultimately the change paid off for the Sounders as they would come out on top with a 2-1 win at BMO Field.

On Sunday Schmetzer and the Sounders trotted out the 5-4-1 again, this time with Dempsey as the lone striker (No. 9) against Portland with Will Bruin home nursing a heel injury. Seattle again defended well for much of the match but were completely shut down offensively. The Sounders only registered 5 shots in the match and only kept one of those on target. Portland found the breakthrough in the 86th minute after Jordy Delem had to take over at centre-back for Kim Kee-Hee who left the game after a cut opened up on the top of his head. Delem would be the one caught out by Sebastian Blanco, allowing the dangerous goal scorer to get behind the defence and finish against Stefan Frei.

On Wednesday in Toronto, Seattle found success because Toronto was playing much higher up the field coupled with a makeshift defense due to Toronto’s injury problems that has lead to Michael Bradley dropping from his preferred defensive-midfield position to centre-back. First Bruin opens the scoring on a counter-attack as the Toronto defense is out of position; both outside defenders are too far up the field and can’t recover in time. The second for Seattle sees Handwalla Bwana getting his first career MLS goal as he’s able to split the defenders and score one-on-one against Alex Bono. A close offside call went in favor of the Sounders as Bwana was left unmarked and was able to latch on to pass from Bruin.

Statistically Seattle should have lost in Toronto after conceding nearly 67% possession and being out shot 24 to 9 but was bailed out by poor defensive sequences from Toronto while also finishing their opportunities. The defensive formation worked to Seattle’s advantage because of Toronto’s more aggressive style.

In Portland there was less of a statistical disparity between the two teams as the Timbers stylistically play with a more defensive approach. Lining up in a 4-3-2-1 gives them a strong defensive base with Diego Chara anchoring the midfield right in front of the back four. This left them less susceptible to counter-attack and allowed them to deny service to Dempsey in that lone striker role. Dempsey constantly had to track back into the midfield to get the ball which allowed the Timbers defence to hold a higher line and keep the midfield compact.

Compared to Dempsey, Bruin is much more comfortable in the No. 9 role as it requires the forward to hold possession and allow distribution to either side of the field. When Dempsey plays alone up top, he drops too deep into midfield and which doesn’t allow him to hold on to possession high up the field to open up space for his teammates.

Playing a 5-4-1 formation is going to mean Seattle playing defensive, less attacking football and relying on counters to create attacks at least until they can shake their injury bug which is going to make for a difficult stretch of games when the Sounders are desperate for points. They’ll have a week off to recover and devise a game plan for their May 26th home match against Real Salt Lake as they try to dig themselves out of last place in the Western Conference.

In pictures: Timbers strike late to earn victory in 100th clash against Sounders

Portland Timbers emerged victorious in the 100th meeting with Cascadia rivals Seattle Sounders on Sunday night. It was a cagey game with just three total shots on target, but Sebastian Blanco’s late goal sealed three important points for the home side.

Seattle set up to frustrate their fierce rivals, with Brian Schmetzer opting for a 5-4-1 formation at Providence Park. That plan worked for 86 minutes until Blanco lifted the winner over Stefan Frei to the delight of the home crowd.

The result moved Portland up to fourth in the West. They have now kept three-straight clean sheets and look to be going from strength-to-strength under Giovanni Savarese. Their next challenge comes in the shape of LAFC on Saturday evening.

Seattle still find themselves at the bottom of the Western Conference. The 2-1 win at Toronto FC was impressive but they will be disappointed to have lost Sunday’s derby clash, especially so late on. They have only scored seven goals in nine games and need to pick up soon.

Check out exclusive photos from Sunday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer Denise McCooey.

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In pictures: Sounders fail to score in disappointing draw with 10-man Columbus

It was a disappointing return home to CenturyLink Field for Seattle Sounders FC as they spent the majority of the match a man up but failed to score against Columbus Crew SC in a 0-0 draw.

The Sounders were dealt a fortunate hand 15 minutes in when Pedro Santos’s high boot caught the face of Alex Roldan, prompting head referee Hilario Grajeda to issue a straight red card after going to video review. Columbus responded in turn by substituting off Cristian Martinez for Alex Crognale and putting every man behind the ball while Seattle was in possession. Seattle struggled to break down the Columbus defence and resorted to trying to get the ball to wide positions to limited success and the attack consistently faltered in the final third.

When Seattle stole possession from Columbus, the counter-attack lacked impetus and the Crew were back with everyone behind the ball before the Sounders could get into a dangerous position. “You have to try and be more quick with the ball and find the middle of the field more quick,” said Osvaldo Alonso. “Pass the ball and try to find the forward. We played good defence and we tried to score and it didn’t happen.”

While they had limited chances in the second half, the best chances of the game came from Columbus when down a man. Gyasi Zardes had an early look that he pushed just wide of goal in the 22nd minute and in the 36th helped to create a chance for Milton Valenzuela that ended up over the bar from inside the six yard box.

With the lion share of possession and 17 shots taken to Columbus’s five, Seattle controlled much of the match but still struggled to test goalkeeper Zach Steffen. Columbus was defensively sound, putting as many men as possible in the 18 yard box to make it more difficult for Seattle to break them down. The Sounders lacked the creativity to get in between the defensive line of Columbus and spent most of their attacks probing the back four but not stretching them. “We’re disappointed in the result. It’s not good enough. I’ll make sure that we watch this tape and we work on attacking movements to try and break that final line and be a little more creative,” said coach Brian Schmetzer.

“You know we moved the ball too slow. I mean the few times when they did get into our end of the field and we won possession of the ball we need to sprint, we need to get down the field before they get a chance to get bunkered in. So we will look at that and the coaching staff will train that to make sure that we create more good opportunities.”

“I think everybody in the stadium knew we were gonna get it and push it wide and try to cross it,” said Will Bruin. “You got to find other ways to create chances and you know we just haven’t been able to do it.

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“We got to be willing to take chances. We gotta get some creativity, some flair, we got to move the ball quicker, like I said we got to pass and move we got to try things. I think we’re too caught up with playing the simple pass and you know, ‘I’m not gonna make the mistake I’m just gonna move it to the next guy.’ And you’re not gonna score like that its so easy to defend and thats a prime example tonight.

“We need to find a solution to this because if you can’t tell I’m pretty frustrated right now. We’re gonna look at film tomorrow and I mean I hope we look at ways to exploit Toronto and ways we can attack them… I just hope we can generate some goals.”

Seattle’s busy week continues as they travel to defending champions Toronto FC on Wednesday before returning to the West Coast to take on local rivals Portland Timbers on Sunday.

Radio Cascadia Episode 150: Oddities

MLSGB has joined up with the Radio Cascadia podcast for the 2018 season, giving our readers the chance to catch up on all the latest news from the Pacific Northwest, where MLS clubs Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps look to continue to dominate the Western Conference. 

Radio Cascadia is a weekly podcast and is an authoritative steward of the Cascadian perspective, representing the most passionate, unified and unique fan bases in the country. Their passion is well justified, not only by the clubs’ nearly fifty years of shared history but also thanks to rampant success in the MLS era.


Vancouver’s 2-0 win over RSL last Friday night relieved pressure on Carl Robinson and gave the crew an interesting lineup to dissect in the headline segment of Ep. 150. How will they hold up at counter-oriented Minnesota this Saturday?

Ed Pham and Tenzin Choephel pick lineups and results for a well-rested Portland team facing a road match up with the Earthquakes this week. Can Gio buck Timbers’ historical struggles in San Jose and make it nine points from their last nine?

The gang saves the painful stuff for last in Ep. 150, recounting the opening of Banc of California Stadium and Seattle’s 1-0 loss to hosts LAFC. Ari Liljenwall gives his take on the newest stadium in the league and Sounders’ performance in the last-minute loss. Can Seattle bounce back this weekend? It’s not an easy test with the Columbus Crew visiting town.

The results have been mixed but we can genuinely make the case that all three of our clubs are going in the right direction! Silver linings, only on Radio Cascadia.

Playlist:

00:00 – Whitecaps earn much-needed victory over RSL, look to make Cascadia 3 for 3 against Minnesota United in 2018

16:30 – Timbers ride two game winning streak down to San Jose, will they grab a third on the trot?

31:20 – Heartbreak in LA for Sounders, tricky home tie with Columbus awaits next

New York Red Bulls vs New York City FC | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: New York Red Bulls vs New York City FC

Red Bull Arena – Saturday, May 5th 2018 – 13:55 ET (18:55 BST)

UK TV Coverage: Live on Sky Sports Football (via Red Button)

New York Red Bulls vs New York City FC: Preview

New York Red Bulls take on New York City FC in the first NY Derby of the 2018 season on Saturday afternoon. Both sides have young, attacking squads and so this one shouldn’t disappoint.

The Red Bulls come into the derby off the back of last weekend’s 3-2 win at LA Galaxy. That was their first away win of the season and they now return home looking to make up for last season’s series loss against their fierce rivals.

After winning the first four derby clashes, it looked as though the Red Bulls were set to dominate NYCFC. But since then, New York City FC have won three of the last five MLS battles, including two last season in which they went unbeaten against RBNY.

NYCFC come into Week 10 at the top of the Supporters’ Shield. They bounced back from their away loss at Portland to beat FC Dallas 3-1 last time out and restore confidence heading into the New York Derby.

David Villa scored his 400th and 401st career goals in that win over Dallas. However he has yet to score a goal at Red Bull Arena in six previous attempts.

Their latest clash ended in the first ever draw between the two rivals, and Saturday’s game is expected to be a close-run contest again, with both these sides looking set to challenge high up the East this season.

New York Red Bulls vs New York City FC: Team News

NY Red Bulls

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Connor Lade (ankle sprain).

🚑 Out: Kyle Duncan (ACL surgery).

NYCFC

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (hamstring), Ronald Matarrita (lower body).

🚑 Out: None.

New York Red Bulls vs New York City FC: Key Stats

New York Red Bulls’ MLS form: W/L/W/L/W

New York City FC’s MLS form: W/W/D/L/W

Key stat: Expect goals – There have been 32 goals in the nine previous MLS clashes between these two – an average of 3.5 per game.

New York Red Bulls vs New York City FC: Prediction

New York Red Bulls 2-2 New York City FC: This one is really tough to call. NYCFC got blown away on their last road trip to Portland but that doesn’t usually happen and they will be well up for the trip to Red Bull Arena. The hosts are looking for revenge after failing to win any of the three games last season. If this is an open contest, there should be goals but expect the two sides to cancel each other out. Score draw.

Seattle Sounders squad left hurting after cruel late loss at LAFC

The pain of Sunday night’s loss to Los Angeles FC was intensely apparent in the Seattle Sounders locker room after the match. As the majority of the 22,000 in attendance for the inaugural match at Banc of California Stadium continued to celebrate their club’s first home victory thanks to a stoppage time goal by captain Laurent Ciman, the Sounders sat in the visiting locker room in quiet contemplation.

Brian Schmetzer, normally calm and composed regardless of his team’s result, was animated and irritated that his team failed to take at least a point. “[Seattle] played with their heart, they played together as a group, they were committed and should have got a point out of the game,” said Schmetzer before pausing to add, “Actually we could have got more than a point out of the game because we had some chances that we probably should have put away.”

Seattle played very well for the majority of the match and it looked as though they would record their first clean sheet of the season before Ciman took his free kick. While it was hit with good pace it was essentially right at Stefan Frei before knuckling at the last second, bouncing off Frei’s arm and into the back of the net. It’s a save that Frei makes routinely 99 percent of the time without much difficulty and a cruel way to lose a match late.

Frei for his part immediately took the blame saying, “That is on me. It’s a cruel part of this position and it’s not the first time and unless I retire tomorrow it won’t be the last time. Its brutal not because you give up the goal but because you let down all your teammates.” When asked if Frei had addressed the team after the match, Schmetzer quickly defended his keeper saying simply, “No. He doesn’t have to. He’s saved us more times than not.”

Seattle actually contained the likes of Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, and Marco Urena throughout the match, only allowing four shots on goal, although two of which were recorded by Urena. The defence, anchored by the unexpected combination of Gustav Svensson and Kim Kee-Hee at centre-back (Chad Marshall did not travel due to a neck injury and Roman Torres was a late scratch after suffering a right hamstring strain in warmups), made a number of crucial tackles to deny LAFC scoring opportunities. Nouhou and Alex Roldan seemed to be especially targeted on their side of the field as time after time LA tried to move the ball along their wing. The young Sounders both had solid performances defensively and limited opportunities for LA from wide positions.

It would be easy from a Seattle perspective to overreact to the loss, especially given they sit at the bottom of the Western Conference and are averaging less than a goal a game, but Sounders were the more dangerous side in LA. They had two great chances within the first eight minutes of the match and, if not for Jordan Harvey deflecting a Clint Dempsey shot and Steven Beitashour clearing an Alex Roldan header off the line, Seattle could have had an early lead. Later in the first half Will Bruin looked to have a wide open net as Ciman went to ground trying to deny the pass but Bruin couldn’t get a shot away before Ciman cleared the bouncing ball from his back. There also wasn’t the familiar slow start that has plagued Sounders historically and there was no dip in energy or effort and if lucky bounces start to go Seattle’s way, don’t be surprised to see them climb back up the table.

Seattle now returns home where they will be looking to find a breakthrough as they prepare to host Columbus Crew SC. “We’re not ‘good’ with moving forward after losses like this;” said Schmetzer, “we’re gonna think about it, we’re gonna look at film, we’re gonna get it better, get it right. Effort was there, if the team plays with that effort we’re gonna win more games than we’re gonna lose.”