Sean Spence: Today's topics! Will be!!
1.) What happened in Philadelphia?
2.) What's up with Basti? Why has he been 'just about ready' for three weeks now?
3.) Is this level of productivity from Nikolic his real level, or is this a slump?
4.) Red Stars: Good or very good? And if not very good, why not? (Because, in my opinion, they should be very good.)
... and more as the discussion dictates. GO!
John Carollo III: 1.) Tactics? We were too timid.
2.) It's a muscle injury. These things need to be handled carefully if we want him around and healthy next season or even the playoffs.
3.) Real, but in a certain system. I don't think he's getting the same service he was getting over the summer and now he's dropped off.
4.) Good; Something about this team seems off with the fact that they have amazing players, but for some reason they can't really hold it together as often as they should.
Jake Payne: 1.) Defenders are a back to being turnstiles. There were also plenty of opportunities for the Fire to get some attacking going, and they'd make one extra misplaced pass that would destroy everything.
2.) I think they'd rather save Basti for the playoffs than have him get further injured in some game against the Union. Risky thinking but its fair.
3.) Midfield is not as present as they've been, so he's not as prevalent.
4.) Red Stars are good but I don't think they're at their full potential
Sandra Herrera: I'm just here because we are talking about the Red Stars, tbh. But...
1.) Garbage things happened.
2.) If you think his impact on the pitch is that crucial/essential then keep him playoff ready
3.) can't get the ball if the mid can't mid.
4.) The Red Stars are a Good team that can be a Very Good team at times. While there have been moments/concerns about whether or not they can get the job done, I think that is also a testament to the competitive level of NWSL as a whole as well. No matter your team standing, teams come out and play.
That being said, thank God Vanessa DiBernardo is back. During our live tweeting of the HOU v CHI match I mentioned that if Ertz is the truck, DiBernardo is the engine.
Hopefully in the future we will see something special between Ertz, Colaprico, Brian, and DiBernardo since they've all played together previously in some way either in college/U20/or the senior National Team.
Also, congrats on clinching a semifinal appearance for the 3rd year in a row, ladies!
Jake: To be fair, the Red Stars deserve to be talked about. I watched the game on Saturday and I definitely want to be more involved. Great club, great fans.
Sandra: Get on the bus and stay on homie, it's a fun ride. Did you watch via the nwsl website or go90 app?
Jake: I went to the watch party at AJ Hudsons.
Sandra: Shout out to Local 134! … And AJ Hudsons, they have a very good Reuben sandwich.
Ruben Tisch: You called?
Sandra: <dances joyfully>
Ralph Schudel: Now I’m hungry … The future is very bright for the Red Stars. Right now they are good but not very good. They are gelling at the right time and I expect the international break to do wonders for Press, Sofia, Morgan, Julie, Casey and Alyssa. Having DiBernardo back in the lineup was a welcome addition, too. The fact the Red Stars lineup is contributing from top to bottom is a tremendous reason for the fans to get excited.
John: DiBernardo's return is gonna be so important.
Ralph: Agree. It’s a different team when she is in the lineup. Also, Morgan Brian’s health will be something to keep tabs on. I talked to Jill Ellis in Cincinnati and she said Mo isn’t 100% fit in terms of match fitness but she could see the mind and Soccer IQ is there. She needs her body to heal.
It will be wonderful to see what DiBernado and Brian can do in the center of the part. Particularly when they are backed up by Ertz. That has to be a great feeling, knowing you have an excellent defender behind you to support you
John: She's one of those players where it seems like she's not doing much while she's out there; but when she isn't it shows.
Ralph: And I agree, plus she’s defensively sound. I always view it that if the announcers aren’t calling your name and you aren’t getting singled out, you are doing something right.
John: Yeah, unless you scored or got the assist, being nameless is good. ,,, Can we send the Red Stars to the next Olympics instead of the National Team?
Ralph: You know it’s funny you mention that, because when I talked to Sofia Huerta she said it was great for team chemistry to have so many teammate in camp.
John: I know, right? Too bad Jill Ellis is playing her defensively instead of the attack. Reminds me of a certain player on another Chicago soccer team.
Returning to that team, why are the Fire afraid of the opposing third? We tried to build up play in the back, but most of the time we just ended up going Route One instead of working our way in.
Jack Kelly: Everything is broken.
Red Stars are very good.
<drops mic and walks out>
Sean: Ok then.
Ruben: On the Red Stars tip, It kind of amazes me how the league has changed so much since it's start, but Rory Dames' teams still manage to underachieve. Hopefully with DiBernardo back, they can play some more entertaining football, but even with her, the game plan often looks like "hoof it up to Press and hope she can pull some magic." It's the late 80s Bulls, and I'm kind of sick of it, to be honest.
John: I think Rory Dames should step back and become the GM. He's very good at identifying and recruiting talent, but his tactics don't really seem to reflect the team very well.
Ruben: They should be playing like Barcelona, not Stoke.
John: The real question is can we do it on a rainy day in Stoke.
Ruben: *July Afternoon in Houston*
John: Not even Houston can do that.
Ralph: That match was brutal
Sandra: Hot take: Houston is hot.
Ralph: Other hot take: the new FIFA video game is coming out. When will we see NWSL squads? I’d like to wreck some fools with Julie Ertz and Nagasato
John: That, please. My guess is not until around 2020. Unless we all make a real big fuss.
Ruben: When there are more than six relevant European teams.
Ralph: I'd like a chance to name them … Bayern, Lyon, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea ladies … I'm blanking on the last. Somewhere in the A-League I assume? Where did Sofia go on loan?
Ruben: Australia is not Europe. Bordeaux.
John: I like how we've just been talking Red Stars here because the Fire were so boring the other day.
Ruben: As for the Fire, I still haven't watched the game. But will note that whenever I don't watch, they lose 3-1. I'll try not to miss any more games.
John: It's always your fault, Ruben.
Sean: Staying with the Fire, here's my thing right now: I worry the Men in Red have lost something they need to be better than pretty good, and I don't have any confidence they'll get it back before the season's toast.
Jake: I think they'll make the playoffs, but they really need to stop messing around.
Sean: This is reminding me more and more of 2012, where the team just sort of cratered down the stretch, backed into the playoffs and got rochambeauxed by Houston in the play-in game.
John: I just hope we can finish at 3rd or 4th. I don't trust us with a road play-in.
Sean: Does anyone even remember 2012 anymore? We got Rolfe back, Arne Friedrich, Freddy Ljungberg, and were the hottest team in the league right about this time of the year - then we lost 3 out of 4, then drew at home with DC United, sliding from second to fourth on the last day of the season, then came out flat and were down 2-0 to Houston in the playoff game before we really got going. That was the last good Fire team, and it ended almost perfectly awfully.
Ruben: I covered it for this website! I've heard this team being compared to 2012 a lot. I don't see it. This team is better at every position except goalkeeper, one of the centerbacks, and attacking midfielder.
That team was also hampered by an organization without a plan and a vision, and a fly by the seat of their pants personnel department, and sort of fell ass backwards into a winning season after 2 years of old Freddie Ljungberg and Brian McBride who couldn't play any more and was uninterested. This team and organization has a plan, and are just starting to come off a rebuild and gutting of the roster and academy system.
Ruben: And yes, Bastian Schweinsteiger is better then Pavel Pardo.
John: I mean, I don't really know what else to add to that. Pretty comprehensive.
Sean: I’d argue that we’re talking apples and oranges a little bit - this roster cost almost three times what that one did - but I hear you. What I don’t see is a team that attacks the beginning of a game like they’ve got a plan to win it, the way they did from late April until the Gold Cup break. I hope you’re right, and we’re just a couple of injury-returns away from playing better football. <whispers> But I think you’re not.