Top takeaway: Jordan Morris is second best offensive player in MLS, LAFC defensive problems and more | Steve zakuani


On Sunday night, we saw two expansion teams yet determine their identities, another Jordan Morris masterclass and some big defensive concerns for LAFC. Let’s go.

Jordan Morris keeps getting better

Carlos Vela aside, Jordan Morris has been the most dangerous player in MLS for the past 12 months. We could talk about the numbers and the silverware, but honestly, just watch it. I’ve watched Jordan ever since he was in some of our first team training sessions while he was still at Sounders Academy. He was strong and fast but decision making and the lack of left foot was a concern.

These concerns were still present in his first two seasons as a pro, but since the 2019 Gold Cup he has taken it to a new level by adding little touches to his already impressive game. The left foot is no longer a weakness, it can beat you on the outside or on the way home, and above all, its composure in front of the goal is now exceptional. When Morris is on goal I’m more surprised now when he can’t find the back of the net, such is his effectiveness in those situations.

He looked like a forward who was forced to play wide, but now he looks like the best left winger in MLS. I’ve had conversations with Jordan over the years about the need to have a winger mentality – to be direct, to dribble with determination, to be dangerous for the goal – and the intricacies of the position and he has worked a lot with l Assistant Coach of the Sounders Preki on the training ground. . But in no case can the shape or form be attributed to me or anyone else for its development – that’s all Jordan.

He is a player with the speed and strength that would have been enough to earn him a great career. But he wanted more. He worked on himself mentally, added a killer instinct, improved his crossing and now has ice in his veins when he finished on goal. There isn’t a single right-back who doesn’t stay up all night worrying about facing him.

As he again showed with his two goals against LAFC on Sunday, the skills he added made him the most dangerous player in MLS without the name Carlos Vela. If it hasn’t already, Garth Lagerwey’s phone will ring while European clubs are calling. As a fan of the Sounders I can only hope he stays here so that we can enjoy him for a long time, but as a football fan I would love to see what he can do at the highest level.

What’s Wrong With LAFC’s Defense

Despite a declining goal, I felt LAFC were the better team in the first half. Their passage was sharp, the high pressure forced the pollsters to make mistakes, their movement was sharp and they looked dangerous. The only disappointed offensive was that they didn’t give Stefan Frei more to do, but overall they seemed able to open the floodgates at any time.

Then the second half came and their Achilles heel raised its ugly head. The league’s best defensive team in 2019 is now defensively horrible. They’re committing a lot of numbers forward, so catching them off the counter is a strategy a lot of teams are using now, but it still shouldn’t be that easy to score against them. They are conceding at double the rate they conceded last season – 1.08 GAA to 2.14 – and there are several reasons for that.

Their center-backs don’t have the pace to play the high line, Kenneth Vermeer gets caught out with too much zeal as a sweeper (see Morris’ first goal) and takes questionable angles (see Ruidiaz’s goal), and they don’t have enough. return numbers in transition. Sometimes Seattle was four to three in the attack.

These scenarios were rare last season because LAFC was just as fanatical about his defensive form and intensity as he was about his game on the other end. Missing Vela and Eduard Atuesta obviously didn’t help them, but for a franchise that has rarely gone wrong since joining the league, the Walker Zimmerman-shaped hole in their bottom line grows bigger every week.

Different expansion fortunes for Nashville, Miami

Everything that is attached to David Beckham is going to be big news and grab some attention. That’s why, even before they kicked off a ball, Inter Miami were linked with every big name you can think of and many expected them to get a world-famous head coach who would take them to the track of the Atlanta Sounders, LAFC or Seattle. type expansion season. It’s not their fault, but expectations were unrealistic on and off the pitch. Nashville, on the other hand, built a little more quietly and without the news or expectations. It’s still very early in the season but I can see the identity of Nashville forming.

They are organized defensively, led by Zimmerman, and with three clean sheets in their last five games, they appear to be a team that will always give themselves a chance to win 1-0. As they are currently built they won’t score a lot of goals because I still don’t see a team that creates enough quality chances and against the best teams when you have to score multiple goals to win they will fail.

Miami is a victim of high expectations because even though they’re having the kind of season we’ve seen some expansion teams before, it feels like they should be so much better. Rodolfo Pizarro is a good player, and I think Lee Nguyen should start because he adds the ability to drive in the background and engage players when he plays, but it feels like a great experience every time I watch them – launching five submarines in the 75th minute adds weight to this observation.

MLS is a much better league than when I played there, but if there’s one thing our Sounders team have done in our year of expansion, it’s find out early on who we wanted to be – compact defensive and good in transition – and that set the direction of the players when we entered the pitch. They’ve been linked with Luis Suarez and Gonzalo Higuain lately, and I’m worried that unless you have a player of that caliber who can score 20 goals, they’ll find points hard to come by. Neither Nashville nor Miami are going to have stellar expansion seasons, but while Nashville meets or even exceeds expectations, Miami is nothing like what we thought it could be.


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