Remember the Members: A Cupdate

As is often the case in late summer, DCFC has been focused on friendlies. Atlas’ visit was nothing short of historic, and while I’d like to say the same about the Philadelphia Fury it seems possible to me that even if NISA is a wild success maybe the Fury are less historic and more history.

But alas, DCFC is in the middle of a league. And while Le Rouge was hosting its friendlies, that league was still very much happening. You may recall that when we last saw our heroes play a competitive match, they were at the top of the Member’s Cup table very early in the season. After two weeks off, DCFC has somehow only fallen to 2nd, despite having played 3 fewer matches than 3rd-place Chattanooga. How did we get here? Let’s have a Cupdate.

1. New York Cosmos- 10 points, 4 matches played, 2.5 points per match, 3-0-1

Going into the Member’s Cup, I think you could have made a pretty reasonable prediction that it would come down to either City or the Cosmos, and based on current results that appears to be the case. The Cosmos started the Member’s Cup with a narrow 1-0 road win against Chattanooga FC. An away win in Chattanooga is nothing to sneeze at, but the cracks started appearing in the next match, a 2-2 home draw against Milwaukee, who was not projected to be in the competitions’ top half. Granted, that match was a little flukey. It was 2-0 NYC at 88’ when Milwaukee got the ball past a keeper that was playing way out, and scored the second four minutes later off of some confusion in the box. A 2-0 road win @ Stars is solid, and I would actually argue that more worrying than the Milwaukee loss is their performance in a win. Going into the match, Napa’s GD was -12, good for 4 goals against per match. The Cosmos scored 1 at home. One mitigating factor worth mentioning is that the Cosmos went down to 10 immediately after the goal, but not scoring at all in the first half is inconsistent with the results other teams have earned against Napa.

2. Detroit City FC- 6 pts, 2 MP, 3 PPM, 2-0-0

You may recall that DCFC beat Chattanooga 2-1 and then Napa 4-0. They remain perfect, and somehow have 8 full matches left in this competition.

3. Chattanooga FC, 5pts, 5 MP, 1 PPM, 1-2-2

Hoo boy. Chattanooga is clinging to third. Sure, third might be the natural place you would have expected Chattanooga to end up, but at this pace they are very much in danger of ending up a bottom-half team. Opening the competition with (discussed above) matches against NYC and DCFC is brutal, harder than any other club’s opening pair. But a home draw against Stars is a poor result. They did the thing everyone has done and thrashed Napa, but that just might not be enough to save their season. If they had gotten say, four points in their opening three matches a draw at Milwaukee probably would have been enough, but halfway through the competition it might have made them the first team out of the “Big Three” that almost certainly won’t touch the championship.

4. Milwaukee Torrent, 5pts, 3 MP, 1.67 PPM, 1-0-2

Listen, I get the risks in calling a team “the surprise of the tournament,” based on two draws, but when those draws are against Chattanooga and New York, Milwaukee is a strong candidate. I think tomorrow’s match in Milwaukee is a real chance for City to get its first non-win. Milwaukee may not have what it takes to win the competition, but they’ve held two of the Cup’s presumed powers to single points and have only given up three goals in three matches, with a clean sheet against Napa (like everyone else). If Milwaukee can get any sort of result off of City tomorrow, they’ll put themselves in great position to be worth watching out for during the rest of the Members Cup.

5. Michigan Stars FC, 1 pt, 2 MP, .5 PPM, 0-1-1

Stars held Chattanooga to a tie, and lost to New York at home. Technically, they have enough time to make up for it, but ultimately I think the most likely outcome is just barely edging Napa for fifth.

6. Napa Valley 1839 FC, 0 pts, 4 MP, 0 PPM, 0-4-0

Napa has four losses and a -13 goal differential. They have yet to score a single goal in the competition. In case you were wondering, Napa went 3-6-2 in regular season NPSL play, earning 11 points in 11 matches. Not great for the team that travels the most.

The big observation I have here is this: These standings meet the eye test. NYC and DCFC are on top, with Chattanooga, Milwaukee, Stars, and Napa following in that order. I think most NPSL observers would have predicted standings that look pretty close to this. The catch is that Chattanooga is in grave danger of ending the competition in fourth.

Another observation is that the table is going to be very confusing as long as everyone’s played uneven matches. Here is a table showing the remaining schedule for the top 4 teams, as well as how many matches ahead or behind DCFC each team will be once the listed match day is complete:

(In case you were wondering, the “long” break Chatta takes involves two weekdays, both of the Saturdays they have off they play NISA friendlies v. Stumptown Athletic. DCFC plays @ Philly on the 26th. The Cosmos do not appear to have anything scheduled for the 26th).

City’s schedule is packed from here on out. Everyone plays every Saturday, and City adds those two weeknight matches. I imagine we’ll see a lot of squad rotation for those weeknights, and we should thank our lucky… you know that they’re against a fairly weak team a short drive away.

Circle These Matches

DCFC @ Milwaukee Torrent, Saturday September 14th

DCFC can’t take the lead back from NYC, but can keep on pace to overtake them once they’re level on games. Milwaukee looks to prove this isn’t a fluke and deserves a seat at the big kids table.

New York Cosmos @ DCFC, Saturday September 21st

Once the Cosmos play this match, they’ll only have four to go, where City will still have six. A DCFC win likely means they have a commanding lead in points-per-match, and would give City enough breathing room that a loss in the New York leg wouldn’t be devastating. A New York win would set up a crucial away match for City in October.

Chattanooga FC @ New York Cosmos, Saturday September 28th

DCFC @ Chattanooga FC, Saturday October 5th

These will be matches 8 and 9 for Chattanooga. If Chatta even wants to challenge for second, they likely need 6 points. If they get those 6 as part of a more general late-season unbeaten streak, maybe they can keep their championship dreams on life support.

Detroit City FC @ New York Cosmos, Saturday October 12

The return trip. Whoever wins the first match, it is likely that at this second match someone has the opportunity to virtually clinch, if not literally clinch, the Championship.

Milwaukee Torrent @ Detroit City FC, New York Cosmos @ Napa Valley 1839 FC, Saturday October 19th

The last match for each of our main competitors, with the Torrent thrown in for good measure. While these aren’t actually the last matches of the Member’s Cup, chances are a Champion is crowned on this night, with the rest of the positions being close to solidified.

Milwaukee Torrent @ Chattanooga FC, Saturday October 26th

Only time will tell if this is a meaningless match on the last night of the season or if its a battle where the winner overtakes DCFC or New York and clinches second place.

Michigan Stars FC @ Napa Valley 1839 FC, Saturday October 26th

Unless Napa has already clinched, there is a very real chance that the winner of this last chance of the Member’s Cup avoids last place with the win.

Goal Breakdown: Atlas FC 9-7-19

My wife and I work at a local farm helping out with weddings and unfortunately we had agreed to work a wedding the day of the Atlas match. Twatching one of the biggest wins in City history while also dealing with a bunch of drunk people was definitely not how I wanted to spend my Saturday. What this means however is that I got to do a full watch of the match at my computer and take a lot more detailed notes. I really hope that you are ready for a wall of text and videos and let me know if you prefer the short posts or these more detailed ones.

The TL;DR version. City held their own against a really good team through good individual and team play and were able to take advantage of chances that they created.

DCFC 1 ATLAS 0 3′ G: Ryan Peterson A: Richard Bryan

Opening minutes of the match and Atlas FC and Detroit City FC are feeling each other out. After some initial pin ball Tendai Jirira gains possession and plays it across to Cyrus Saydee. Saydee takes a couple dribbles and plays the ball to Bakie Goodman.

Goodman plays the ball up the field but quickly realizes he won’t get very far and is able to get the ball back to Jirira who in turn plays it to Cyrus and then back to Stephen Carroll to reset the attack.

Saydee really seems to be the focus of City’s initial game plan and his pass up the wing to an open Richard Bryan provides good context for why.

Bryan dribbles the ball towards the center of the field and plays the short pass to Ryan Peterson. Peterson gets a toe on the ball and immediately turns and fires. It looks like the keeper gets a late read on the ball due to his defenders positioning and the shot beats him to the near post to shock the visitors an put City up 1-0.

Defensive Effort and Atlas Control

After this first goal Atlas begin to control the ball and start trying to work for a goal. The City back line played absolutely incredible in this game and kept the ball in between themselves and the goal. Carroll and Jalen Crisler both won almost every 1 on 1 battle and didn’t let Atlas get an easy shot off.

Crisler dribbles up the field but is caught from behind and has the ball poked out. Atlas look to have a break and Crisler is left trying to get back into position.

James Vaughan comes out to challenge the ball and City is able to get numbers back to cover the Atlas attack.

Atlas maintain control of the ball and passes it around until they are able to create a nice little one two play getting him behind Vaughan.

Vaughan does well to recover and City is able to swarm the ball and force a clearance. This really is the theme of the first half, Atlas really controlled possession but were constantly surrounded by City players and not able to generate any great chances.

A little while later Atlas are still controlling the ball. The Atlas player pass the ball to the middle of the field and begins what looks like a one two pass. However the central player plays it off the side of his foot who in turn makes the connecting pass back to the original player making his run. Vaughan does well to recognize the play and is able to recover and get his boot on the ball and towards the City keeper.

DCFC 1 ATLAS 1 18′ G: Facundo Barcelo

Ball is played back to the Atlas keeper who plays it to his one center back and Atlas is really beginning to push players forward.

The most impressive thing I saw watching this match is Atlas’ accuracy on long passing. In 3 passes they are able to go from the top of the penalty box to inside City’s half, then a perfect ball over the head of Jirira to the right outside corner of the penalty box.

The Atlas player drives the ball across the box to a waiting attacker who chests the ball and gets in a juggling match with Bryan. The Atlas player does a great job getting his boot to the ball around Bryan and the to foot of an unmarked Facundo Barcelo who redirects the ball into the back of the net tying the game at 1 a piece.

DCFC Counters and Chances for Atlas

While City did not dominate the time of possession they were still able to create some really good chances by taking advantage of quick restarts and quick one touch passing. Nate Steinwascher quickly restarts on a goal kick up to Bryan. Bryan passes up to Saydee who one touches it to Peterson.

Peterson plays the ball to Yazeed Matthews who lays it off for Bryan making a long run up the side line. Matthews defender lays off him to help cover Bryan. Bryan plays the one two back to Matthews who may have been able to get a shot on goal if he was able to strike it on the first touch but the defender is able to stay in front of him and block the shot. That one two between Matthews and Bryan is a great play to get someone free in the box.

The passing for Atlas again creates a chance for Atlas. Carroll is chipped by a nifty pass that leads to an Atlas player in a dangerous position in the box and some breathing room as Carroll works to recover.

Crisler does well to position himself in front of the attacking player and forces the him to play it back to the top of the box. At this point City have been able to recover and get numbers back. Atlas takes a shot but both Vaughan and Diego Casielles are there to block it and City clears the resulting deflection to relieve the pressure.

The ball may take a deflection off Casielles’ arm but it feels like a good no call.

Long ball on a counter leaves Crisler one on one with his man. Crisler does a good staying in position and not getting too aggressive. The Atlas player looks to possibly either play the ball to the attacker on the far side of the field or shoot but it ends up hitting his team-mate creating an awkward situation for City.

Crisler and Carroll both dive in front of the shot and allow City to recover.

Crisler and Carroll both putting their body on the line to prevent the shot on goal.

I am including this because it is a great save by Steinwascher to direct the ball over the net on what looks like would be a goal.

Halftime

In addition to clipping plays I also kept track of time of possession for the game. The first half saw Atlas dominate the ball but a lot of it was passing around the back and trying to find a way towards goal. City seemed content to let them play this way and push for quick counters to punish how aggressive Atlas was getting with their positioning.

1st HalfAtlas FCDCFC
 62.1%37.9%

DCFC 2 ATLAS 1 58′ G: Yazeed Matthews A: Ryan Peterson

Play begins again from Steninwascher in the back up to Crisler. Crisler plays it up to Vaughan who one touches it to Bryan. Bryan then plays the ball up the touch line to Ryan Peterson.

Peterson plays the ball up the side and then plays a ball into the box for Casielles. I am not sure if he gets a piece of it but it looks like Casielles lets the ball go between his legs and it bounces right in front of Matthews. Matthews takes the shot off the volley and beats the recovering goal keeper to the far side of the net. City is now up 2 to 1 on a Liga MX club and just has to hold on to notch the biggest win in club history in their belt.

Continued High Level Play

This next segment has it all, good defensive play from Crisler, some nifty moves from Jirira, and more high level play from everyone else. Crisler is able to intercept a dangerous pass and win the ball. Jirira then makes a great dummy turn and lines up a pass Goodman.

The ball is then played around the back and City maintain possession while Atlas works hard to regain the ball.

Goodman receives a pass and gives his man a nice little move to get around him and the field opens up. The ball is played up to Jirira who crosses the ball to Matthews. The ball just has a little too much pace and Matthews diving attempt on goal goes a little wide. City very much are showing that they are not content sitting back and letting play come to them, they are still creating chances and putting pressure on Atlas.

A long ball is able to find an Atlas attacker streaking in between Carroll and Crisler. Both players do well to get back into a good defensive position and Carroll is able to get in and win the ball back.

I am turning into the biggest fan of Ryan Peterson. He has a ton of speed and has created a lot of opportunities for City since joining the club. Also there are a couple times a game where he is able to chase down a back pass and get in the keepers face and make things uncomfortable for them. In previous games this has led to poor passing and getting the ball back for City. I am willing to bet that he will manage to score a goal from either deflecting a keeper clearance or straight up taking the ball before the season is out.

Atlas is again able to create a chance through some nice passing and Carroll is left stranded trying to defend two possible players. After the pass he immediately takes off and make a great diving tackle to deflect the ball out of bounds. Armando Quezeda may have had a play on the ball but the tackle from Carroll eliminated the chance and prevented the attacker being one on one with the keeper.

At this point Atlas really began pushing for a goal and taking more chances with their passing. City were doing well to limit the opportunities and breaking up the attack.

A throw in for Atlas leads to a pick and intentional high shoulder on Casielles who is left catching up to the ball. He tracks down the attacker and gets close to the attacker and sticks out his leg to slow up the game and let City reset and also possibly blow off some steam after that shoulder check. The Atlas player immediately jumps up and swings on him. The only reason I can think that the Atlas player wasn’t shown a red was because he didn’t connect on his swing.

FINAL: DCFC 2 ATLAS FC 1

City never seemed over matched in this game and went toe to toe with a starting lineup earning close to $14m. If City can continue this level of play over the remainder of the Members Cup I don’t see a reason why they couldn’t win the whole thing. While Atlas continued to maintain control of possession in the second half it wasn’t as lopsided as the first. This probably had more to do with Atlas pushing the ball and making riskier passes than anything else but City were able to keep them off the ball and limit their chances.

This write up took a significant amount of work. Depending on the games I may do this length in the future but would appreciate some feedback on what you would prefer to see from these recaps in the future.

2nd HalfAtlas FCDCFC
 53.0%47.0%
GameAtlas FCDCFC
 57.6%42.4%

Goal Breakdown: Philly Fury 8-31-19

There were not a lot of goals in this one to break down so this is going to be a pretty short post. City really seemed to control the game and generated a lot of chances but couldn’t find the back of the net. Being back at Keyworth means the game is on YouTube and so much easier for me to clip goals. Header image from Micheal Kitchen.

DCFC 1 PF 0 63′ (PK) G: Ryan Peterson

I am going to begin this lead up to a goal a little early so I can cover the sequence. Stephen Carroll is a little too light on his touch allowing the Fury player to take control of the ball. Victor Fragola does well to challenge for the ball and slow up the attack. James Vaughn is a little slow getting back which frees up his man. Carroll does well to position himself to cover the three players threatening the middle of the field.

Good positioning from Carroll to be able to react to wherever the ball goes.

A heavy touch from the Fury player causes the ball to go wide and Carroll does well to position himself between the player and the goal. The Fury player is really left with only one option to try and play the ball across the middle and the City keeper Armando Quezeda is able to collect the ball.

City then proceeds to play the ball around in the back looking to find an opening. Eventually some room is found by Richard Bryan and he plays it up the pitch. The Fury put very little pressure on Bryan giving him lots of time to find some where to go with the ball.

Bryan plays the through ball into the box for Ryan Peterson to run down. The keeper decides a little late to come out and play the ball allowing Peterson to use his speed to beat him to the ball. The keepers momentum carries him into Peterson causing a foul and a penalty kick is awarded.

A clip of just the foul
Fuck this guy.

Peterson lines up over the ball and drives it to the left of the goal. Goalie guesses the wrong direction and Peterson puts City up 1-0.

Different angle

DCFC 1 PF 0 69′ (PK) S: Armando Quezeda

Long ball from the Fury from the back is played up into the box which Tendai Jirira has position on. Jirira shields the ball from the attacker who attempts to play the ball around his body and Jirira goes down from the challenge. I think he believes he was fouled so he reaches out and grabs the ball, however no foul was called on the Fury player resulting in a hand ball inside the box which awards a penalty kick to the Fury.

The Fury player drives the ball to the center of the net and Quezeda is able to react and stop his dive to his left and blocks the shot. The ball is still in play after the deflection and Quezeda is able to get his foot on the follow up attempt from the penalty taker sending the ball over the top of the net. He immediately pops up and begins directing the defense to cover the upcoming corner. City is able to maintain their lead for the remainder of the match and hold on to win 1-0.