Thursday, September 27, 2012

SUB WATCH: Game 31

Given Recent Events, This Could End Up as the  de facto  SUB WATCH  Image
A busy schedule for both the Red Bulls and SUB WATCH means that you, lucky readers, are treated to another marathon, 3-game recap. Stat-wise, the biggest impact the last three matches have has is that poor performances--yes, I’m counting the Crew game--have led to early subs and use of all three players available. As a result, heading into the TFC match on Saturday, the over/under has dropped to 70.44” and subs per game has hit 2.27--the highest since Phily in the eleventh match of the season! Punters who took SUB WATCH’s analysis to heart before the Crew match and bet UNDER 70” for the first sub hit the jackpot in all three games with first subs at 60”, 45” and 35”.

After getting the stats you love, we’ll take a critical look at just what the hell Hans may be thinking with his increasingly puzzling substitution strategy--and the results that it has been generating. Without further to do:

In a game whose lopsided score give a skewed view of the performance, production from the trio of Tainio-Lindpere-LeToux was as follows:

  • Fouls: 2 (LeToux)
  • Tackles won: 0
  • Tackled & possession lost: 12
  • Successful pass: 70% (24/34)
  • Successful dribble: 0% (0/1)
  • Successful cross: 0% (0/4)
  • Key pass: 1 (LeToux)
Tainio was the standout sub with 13 of the 24 successful passes. Let it be noted that even this performance could not outshine the man he replaced, as Rafa had 46(!) successful passes and only 9 bad ones.

Sporks--The Rematch
After a pathetic tie in KC, the Red Bulls managed to turn in an even worse performance at home in front of a crowd of upwards of 17 fans. But we’re here to talk subs. KFC made an early switch with Dax (!?!) at the half, followed by Sam at 60” and LeToux at 74”. Note this is the same set that appeared in the DC match.

  • Fouls: 2
  • Tackles won: 0
  • Tackled & possession lost: 13
  • Successful pass: 73% (32/44)
  • Successful dribble: 75% (3/4)
  • Successful cross: 50% (4/8)
  • Shot on target: 28% (2/7)
Here we see a mixed bag. Again, good success on passing that may not have been evident to those witnessing this debacle. The 13 losses of possession are more in keeping with the tone of the game, and reinforce the point that RBNY has trouble hanging on to the ball. Surprisingly, the subs had 3 successful dribbles.

New England
The curse continued with a last second “air balloon” into the box that found the back of the Red Bull goal, after an equally unlikely Red Bull goal that would have delivered the least deserved win in the history of modern sport. But, again, I digress! Here are your sub stats for Lindpere-Barklage-Sam:

  • GOAL: Lindpere
  • Fouls: 1
  • Tackles won: 0
  • Tackled & possession lost: 16 (Lindpere-13)
  • Successful pass: 82% (10/24)
  • Successful dribble: 0% (0/0)
  • Successful cross: 25% (1/4)
While Lindpere technically scored a (pathetic) goal, losing possession 13 times is a killer. Not what you need from a player off the bench who is supposed to right the ship and inject some energy. No wonder the team can’t generate any momentum.

WTF, Hans?
Let’s move on from the stats to look at Backe’s sub strategy over the past 3 games. Ok. Now my head hurts. Some observations:
  • Lindpere goes sub-starter-sub. Coop goes start-sub-no minutes. Is this based on opposition style, practice that week or a whim? Odd behavior for a coach who was so adamant about using the same starting XI.
  • LeToux in for Cooper in the Columbus match. Does this really change the game? Regardless of their physical similarity, there’s a reason we call them “LeCoop.” Did the Crew have to make any adjustment because of this? Granted, Coop did miss a huge sitter.
  • If you can somehow make peace with putting Dax on the right after almost every fan, pundit and journalist has conceded that his play in the middle has led to a possible team MVP, how do you take out Dax at the half? Backe reportedly said that “any of the midfielders could have come out.” So you take out the youngest, fastest player who is having a great season?
It would be one thing if these confusing decisions had result in max points or stellar performances. Instead, we've seen a chaotic team that has not been helped by its subs (As noted above, I take the Lindpere goal v New England with a HUGE grain of salt.).

However, all this chaos should make for an entertaining night on Saturday versus TFC. One welcome bit of news is that Brandon Barklage has, apparently, regained his rightful spot on the left. With Connor Lade out on a red and Rafa injured (shock), this could also mean a rare Keel appearance. Backe doesn't sub defenders often, but if he does, Keel would seem to be first up. KEEL: BUY

UPDATE: Kenny Cooper has surpassed HWSNBN with 220 sub minutes played this season. Who would'a thunk it after his blistering start? Predictions on Kenny's final smp?

This is SUB WATCH, signing off!

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