Rafa Benítez Blog RSS Rafa Benítez Blog

Apr 2012
MLS analysis by Rafa Benítez

General Articles

Rafa Benítez

Week 4 of the MLS season is underway and only one team, Toronto, is still without a point on the board. LA Galaxy have had a slow start as Champions and featured in one of the matches we have analysed. In the Western Conference there are two teams on 9 points, Real Salt Lake and San Jose whilst Kansas have 9 points in the East and they play tomorrow. We have looked at two matches this week and some observations of both matches follow for your interest.

New York Red Bulls 5 - Montreal Impact 2

The game was notable for the first MLS hat-trick for Thierry Henry. He was able to show his quality in the final third with his movement and finishing and also assisting in another of the goals.

Both teams used similar systems, 1-4-4-2. The tempo of the match in the first half was not quick, with the Red Bulls controlling possession but with Montreal defending a bit deeper and looking to counter attack when possible. Both teams were quite open defensively not pressing the ball with intensity and leaving spaces for penetrating passes.

After a legitimate penalty claim for a foul on Henry which was not given,the first goal came for the away team on 19 minutes and it was due to a defensive error when Holgersson failed to control the ball and Nyassi was quick to seize on the loose ball and finish.

Nine minutes later the score was level. A throw in by New York was allowed to be received short by Marquez and he crossed the ball under no pressure and Henry got the first of his goals with a good header climbing above defenders.

There were few chances in the first half but on 38 minutes, the left wide player for the Canadian side came inside on to his right foot and a lack of defensive intensity to block his shot allowed the ball to get past the Red Bulls goalkeeper, making the score 1-2.

There were a further couple of chances for each team and right on half time the home team were awarded a penalty for a foul on McCarty on one of the occasional forward runs from midfield. The penalty was slotted home by Cooper to even the score for half time.

The Red Bulls were more of a threat in the second half and again controlled possession. The full backs were joining attacks and on the right wing the overlapping was causing some problems. After 56 minutes The home side went in front thanks to loss of possession by the away defence and a quality finish by Henry. Shortly after they hit the post there were more chances for New York.

On 72 minutes they virtually sealed the game making it 4-2. Another right wing overlap and poor defending as the full back went to ground unnecessarily allowed the opposing right back to get free to cross and with a Henry flick and a finish from Ballouchy it put the New York side in control of the game. The game was finally finished off on 88 minutes when Henry completed his hat-trick when he finished coolly from a rebound off the goalkeeper from a long shot.

Henry's quality in the box together with his movement and changes of pace and direction had made the difference in the scoreline.

LA Galaxy 1 - New England Revolution 3

The home team started with their favoured formation of 1-4-4-2 and Robbie Keane was captaining the side in place of Landon Donovan. Revolution used a system of 1-4-4-2 when defending but converted quickly to 1-4-1-3-2 in attack with 3 players in a second line supporting Sene, the target striker and Guy, a mobile second striker.
The west coast team started slowly and after 13 minutes the damage had been done as they were trailing 0-2. Their defence had already had a couple of warnings when New England had made runs behind defenders who were losing position. After 9 minutes it was 0-1 when the Galaxy defence allowed a cross in from the left with no pressure on the ball and Rowe came in from the right to finish. Four minutes later they were two up when they played good combination passes to get in behind the defence and in to the box and the Revolution left back was quicker that defenders to get in a shot which found the back of the net.

LA Galaxy were, however, controlling possession with 62% after 20 minutes. They were still allowing runs in behind their defenders by losing position following opposition players movement between lines. They conceded two more chances in this way.

As for the home team, they were able to create some chances but none were clear cut. David Beckham did have two free kicks which were struck with his usual quality but failed to find the net. Beckham was withdrawn at half time.

In the second half LA Galaxy again had most of the ball and were pushing to get back in the game but the away defence were fighting to protect their goal, dropping off to the edge of their own box. The tempo of Galaxy in possession was not really high enough to cause the defenders problems. There were some opportunities but again they failed to take advantage of them.

After 65 minutes the home side went further behind. Guy, the Revolution second striker, had caused problems with his mobility on several occasions and, this time on the right, he was again allowed to put the ball in the box with no defensive intensity to prevent him. Sene was able to finish and make the score 0-3.

Galaxy finally got a goal to pull the score back to 1-3 when Keane finished of a counter attack initiated after a regain in the opposition half and poor pass selection by the Revolution defender. The game saw a last 12 minutes of Revolution defending balls in the box but they were resolute in defence only conceding half chances to Galaxy.

LA Galaxy will be disappointed with the result and their position in the standings but they did create chances and they had control of the possession for large parts of the game. Revolution with their new young coach will be delighted with the result for the second week running.