Oh boy, here we are again talking about goals conceded. Alright, let’s get to it.
Compensate the Overload
Normally teams will attempt to overload a defense by pushing their fullbacks to overlap the winger and pulling one of their strikers to the channel to give a numerical advantage or to force defenders into making bad decisions. One such way to combat this is to compromise your shape to address the immediate danger.
This instance reminds me of the second goal conceded against San Jose earlier this year when Gonzalo Segares loses out on a 50/50 ball exposing the Fire’s backline. Bill Hamid’s goal kick is perfectly placed as it is too far behind the diminutive Harry Shipp to get the ball and drags Segares to challenge for the header against United forward Fabian Espindola and forcing Jeff Larentowicz (#3) and Patrick Ianni (#2) to slide over to mark the other overloading forward Eddie Johnson and the wide positioned Nick DeLeon. A giant gap opens between Ianni and Lovel Palmer for the D.C. attack to exploit.
DeLeon collects Espindola’s header and holds the ball expecting Johnson to
1. attack the wide open space or
2. bisect the centerbacks to run onto a through ball.
Instead, Johnson chooses door number 3 and overlaps DeLeon, which is probably the smartest option since Ianni covers Larentowicz well enough to cut out the through ball.
Meanwhile, the gap between the center back and right back still exists. If I were Matt Watson I would abandon my central midfield zone to fill that gap allowing Palmer to mark Chris Pontius on the weak side.
With the Fire defense retreating and in a 3v3 situation, the margin for error does not exist. Larentowicz shepherds Johnson into making a cross taking away the surprise scenario of a cutback, Ianni retreats and sticks close to DeLeon but is really out of the play, and Palmer tracks Pontius until taking the position of the center back atop the six yard box while Pontius ghosts to the far post.
Staying Out of Pressure
When distributing as a defender, large amounts of time and space greatly help when trying to pick a pass to build the attack. There’s a reason defenders defend instead of attempting to dribble through players or play killer balls. Dribbling into that time and space is like going to The Oakwood after closing out The Globe. You’re going to try to force the replays out of your mind as you think back in shame and avoid eye contacts from your teammates the next day.
In this first screenshot we see Ianni with the ball at his feet with the time and space to comfortably distribute to any one of four open teammates with Kyle Reynish back as an additional safety option.
Instead, he makes the grave mistake of dribbling into pressure triggering D.C.’s high press and the Fire attack to
get open for an easy pass largely do nothing. Let’s take a look at Ianni’s options now:
1. Palmer is still open, but Ianni can’t see that and would need to completely turn around or do a Blanco-esque heel pass.
2. Go all the way back to Reynish for the safest pass.
3. Larentowicz is still open but Chris Ritter is now obstructing the passing lane and…
4. …draws Johnson with him.
5. Segares starts attacking the wing running away from the play.
6. Harry Shipp is open for a pass if Ianni passes behind him away from his mark.
7. Matt Watson calls for the ball stationary behind Espindola and with a man marking him.
8. Alex is on the field for some reason.
9. Quincy Amarikwa is too far removed from the play to be an option.
10. Florent Sinema-Pongolle is wearing number 99 and allegedly exists.
Yeah, whoops. Truly Fedora-esque from Ianni there. Still, there’s defending to do and Larentowicz could close down Johnson’s right foot forcing the play to go wide and to Reynish’s near post. However, committing to that aggressive step could allow Johnson to burst forward with speed and in on goal against Reynish.
Instead, Eddie Johnson cuts back and has the whole goal to shoot at. So there we are. Two more goals conceded in this nightmare season. Ianni is completely to blame for dribbling into pressure even though Ritter deflects the pass to Larentowicz. Shuttle run for Ianni.