Montreal 0 – New England 1
New York City FC 0 – Philadelphia Union 1
Seattle 0 – San Jose 0
I was unable to get a post out after last night’s action as the Montreal vs. New England game was not on any of the channels that I possess. Because of that I only know what the highlights show, and it looks to me like New England dominated much of the game on their way to a 1-0 victory. I did get to watch the 6:00AM game which was New York City vs. Philadelphia, so I will offer some grades for that game.
New York City FC: B
Both of these teams played better than the game that we saw to open the tournament, but there is still room for improvement across the board. I began to get really annoyed watching NYCFC look like their offensive strategy was for Maxi Moralez to get the ball and then immediately fall over in an attempt to gain a free kick. It caused the game to move very slowly and for NYCFC’s offense to sputter along. They did seem to play better near the end of the game as they were trying to get the game tying goal. All in all a fine game for New York, but still upsetting to come away without a point.
Philadelphia Union: B+
Philadelphia needed some help from their goalkeeper in order to sneak away with the one point win, but that’s Philly’s strategy a lot of the time anyway. They pieced together passes pretty well and when Alejandro Bedoya got his chance he didn’t disappoint. They can’t rely on Andre Blake to save them in every game but this was a well played game from them considering the amount of time off.
Man of the Match: Andre Blake
ESPN gave their match ball to Bedoya as the lone goal scorer, but I feel like Blake had more of an impact on the outcome of the game. He finished with 7 total saves with the biggest ones coming in the final minute of the game to save the victory for his team. The first rule I learned as a soccer player was “If you don’t allow a goal, you can’t lose the game” and that seemed to be Philadelphia’s strategy Thursday morning. Andre Blake made sure that the strategy worked in their favor.
The weekend is set to have the better games of the first round of group stage. Hopefully the virus is kept at bay long enough for us to see them as Sporting Kansas City seems to have a positive test as well. Friday night kicked off with what turned out to be a great game between Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes.
Seattle Sounders: C-
This was the first game of the tournament to end in a draw, and it was a scoreless draw at that. The problem with that for Seattle is they should absolutely not be playing to scoreless draws against a team like San Jose, and what’s even more upsetting for this is that they were outplayed the entire game as well. Seattle was making a case for the first D grade or perhaps even lower throughout the first half by allowing San Jose to do anything they please. Seattle was able to pull their grade up a bit with a few good chances in the second half, but nothing that truly scared Daniel Vega.
San Jose Earthquakes: C+
This was a hard game to grade for me because I didn’t know whether to grade San Jose based on a concept of perfect soccer or whether to grade them against their usual gameplay. I chose for the former in order to keep the grading consistent and keep any credibility I may have, but San Jose fans may consider this game an A grade for their team compared to anything we’ve seen the past few years from the Quakes. San Jose was able to pass the ball around and control possession nearly the entire first half which was very surprising considering they were up against the defending MLS Cup winners. They will be upset to only come away with a single point, but should be happy to be through with Seattle who should definitely play better from here on out.
Man of the Match: Stefan Frei
Any time there’s a scoreless draw in soccer you really have to look at one of the two keepers as the men of the match. I chose Frei because I asked myself which team is thanking their keeper more in the locker room after the game. Vega made a fantastic save near the end of the first half but overall Frei was called upon more often and continuously came through.
We’ve made it to the weekend and the bubble hasn’t completely popped. Let’s hope that the remaining teams are able to stick around and we are able to see the great games that the weekend has to offer us.