Fire vs Philly Left Back Porfirio López
After watching Philly’s first two games of the season, one position that is a clear weakness is left back where coach Nowak is deploying Porfirio López. To be quite honest, López is one of the worst players I have seen in MLS in recent memory. His positioning, decision making and technical skills are clearly not good enough for our league. His stats for the first two games don’t lie: he has lost possession after a tackle 37 times, and he has only completed 66% of his passes. Last week, the Fire deployed a 4-2-2-2 system with the forwards and attacking mids (Oduro, Nyarko, Pappa and Grazzini) not playing very wide to allow the outside backs (Sega and Gargan) to exploit the space. I look for the Fire to deploy Pappa or another winger on the right and for them to run at Lopez all night.
Does Klopas Have a Plan B?
Last weekend, just as in the U.S. Open Cup Final last season, Montreal deployed a very deep back line to prevent Oduro from getting behind them. This tactic severely limits Oduro and puts more emphasis on Grazzini to create chances. Montreal also kicked Grazzini out of the game which also limited the Fire to little more than speculative shots for almost the whole game. The one and only time Grazzini had time/space to create, he did – setting up Dom for the goal. If Philly try to man mark Grazzini or kick him off the field and/or play a deep back line, Klopas must change up the tactics to counter this.
Philly’s Attack –Set Plays and Speed
Philly impressed me at times against Colorado with their quickness of play in attack. There was a lot of one touch passes and some nice combination play. Danny Mwanga and Lionard Pajoy formed a good partnership up front especially for the first game that they have started together. The Fire need to also refrain from giving up needless free kicks in dangerous areas against the Union. Philly, like Houston last season, are very dangerous from set pieces. If the Fire defend them they way they did against Houston last year, we may have some serious problems. Philly’s true danger man is attacking mid Roger Torres who came off the bench against Colorado. He should start Saturday and his creativity could cause the Fire major problems. Against Montreal the Fire gave the ball away in their own half on numerous occasions. If the team does that against Philly, the speed of the Union attack could punish the Men in Red in a way that Montreal couldn’t last week.
Zack MacMath – Philly’s Dykstra?
Two games, two huge mistakes for Philly’s keeper. The Fire need to pressure MacMath from the off on Saturday night. He seems to be a good shot stopper but crosses are his major weakness. Every cross/set piece/corner is an opportunity for the Fire to challenge the young keeper and try to force him into making another high-profile mistake.