How Long Should Fans “Keep the Faith”?
How long do Legion fans accept the poor finishing? There is already unrest in the streets of Twitter and frustration building in the supporters sections. Down on the pitch during the game, you could feel the tension building after every single attacking opportunity the 3 Sparks had.
Let’s talk about it.
On my pre-match preview show with Benton Newman of Vamos Morados, I fully expected a loss. I was sitting thinking anywhere from a 2-0 or a 3-1 loss for the 3 Sparks. Preseason, I also considered this to be a loss. Why? It has nothing to do with Legion, rather how dominant City have been and how their roster construction always seems to get better and better.
Of all the complaints we have had of Protective Stadium, last night was ELECTRIC. I was able to stand on the pitch and listen to the crowd from everywhere in the stadium. Even on the opposite side of the stadium, The Elyton Ultras and Magic City Brigade were LOUD (even without the cymbals). I mean, absolutely electric.
Even the fans outside of the supporters sections were getting into the match in a way I had not seen at a Legion match in a long, long time.
Formation Shellshock is absolutely what I would say. Both Benton and I found out the formations for Louisville and Birmingham at the same time, and you know what? Neither of us expected it. Benton was nervous for the formation that Coach Danny Cruz rolled out. I, on the other hand, was stoked to see the 3 man back line back in action.
The pros of our 3 man back line is that we are able to fully allow Jonny Dean and Mikey Lopez into the attack without much fear of overcommitting. The other plus is getting a guy like Thomas Vancaeyzeele onto the pitch, which is an absolute must for me.
Our downside is that we didn’t real fix our problem. Marlon is a great player, but solo strikers don’t work with Legion. They just do not work in this current iteration of Coach Tommy Soehn’s system. Lets just get into that straight away.
Why Can’t We Score?
Since Year 1 of the Legion, scoring has been an issue. It just has. We have this system where we want to work the wide areas, use our dribbling ability to work the ball into the box, and essentially “pass the ball into the net” à la Pep Guardiola. Which is a system that can work, and we’ve seen it work here in Birmingham. So, what’s the issue? Why don’t strikers score?
Let’s look at two systems, but the same formation. I want to go with the staple of Tommy-ball, the 4-2-3-1
This is the bare basics. When Legion get in the attack, most of the time, we work the wings and get to the edge of the box by the corner flags. From here, you have to options to beat the defenders. Either cross the ball in the air to your striker or pass the ball on to a late runner into the box. Typically, Legion go with the latter.
From here, the attacking team has two options. The Number 10 (which is typically Bruno Lapa) has to choose whether or not to pass the ball or shoot the ball. The issue with passing is that it can be easily intercepted. The issue with shooting is that it can either be blocked by a defender or even accidently an attacker, see below:
What if we tried to just cross the ball in? We saw that a bit last night as well.
We see here the Number 5 (typically Jonny Dean) simply crossing the ball to our Number 11 (Macky, Marlon, Edi, or Juan) in the air. This is direct service, which works very well for big bodies like Macky, Edi, or Juan. See Below:
You see here Jonny Dean giving great service in to Macky Diop on a cross. Macky sorta whiffs on the cross, but it is mostly because it is lower than his head. If this ball had been higher, we would have seen at least a shot on goal.
How to Truly Get the Most Out of Our Strikers?
Stop playing wide purely. Most of our success came from passes from the middle of the park. While we have effective wide players like Prosper, Jonny, Mikey, Ryan, etc. Our strengths mostly lie in the middle of the park where guys like Enzo Martinez, Anderson Asiedu, and Bruno Lapa THRIVE.
You can see here the Number 10 passing the ball into space either on the left or right of the Number 11. This allows the 10 to dictate play and allow the striker (11) to get on the ball or even leave it for the two other forwards with him (6 or 9). We had several great examples last night with Prosper and Enzo. See Below:
From these positions, the lack of shots on goal or finishing is incredibly frustrating, but we are creating chances. This is not a situation of lack of creation, it’s simply a lack of finishing.
Look at the play by Enzo, there was no reason for him to turn away from goal. He could have taken that shot and at the very least forced a save out of Morton. Instead he held onto the ball to try and get a “better” chance, and ended up losing the ball for a goal kick.
Post Match Interviews
Final Thoughts with Benton Newman – Vamos Morados
GO TO FOOTBALL FORGE FOR PLAYER RATINGS
In a vacuum, 1 point from Louisville City is a great result. I think we saw some positives, but frustrations are riding high right now. Before the red card, Legion were looking the better team. Louisville City lives off of taking early control and Legion did not allow that to happen. 3 Sparks had many chances to score and just didn’t put the ball in the back of the net.
Who do you “blame” for the inability to get all 3 points? I would say it’s 60% tactics, 40% execution. The tactical decision in match were a step in the right direction, but not what we needed to succeed. That said, we had our chances and just did not take them. On to Southern States SC Stars.