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Inside the Six: The Lennon Paradox

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Take that for DATA!

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Colorado Rapids Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado vs. RSL

This past week’s game was a beautiful reminder of how ugly soccer can appear. RSL out possessed the Crapids 61%-39% and took 625 touches compared to 440 from the home team, but only managed five shots from the run of play. The Rapids bunkered deep and dared Real to break them down, which they tried to do in the least effective way possible: sending cross after cross into the box (or the stands, or wherever really) and hoping something would work out. It didn’t.

Luckily, Ricardo Velazco earned a free kick in a good spot, Movsisyan sent a homing missile to the bottom corner on his PK, and Brooks Lennon pulled off his best Arjen Robben impression (and followed it with a Dybala/Ronaldo impression on the celebration), all of which led to the second straight victory for RSL. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win on the road against a team whose game plan is to create gridlock, and two away goals in a stadium that saw only 7 all of last season. It’s three points against a conference foe and Real Salt Lake should be plenty happy with that.

RSL vs. Atlanta United

This Atlanta United squad is the Milwaukee Bucks of Major League Soccer right now. They were supposed to be good down the road, but the dirty south has come out of the gates swinging, their 14 goals trailing only Portland. The South American attacking triumvirate of Josef Martinez, Miguel Almiron, and Hector Villalba has been dynamic in the final third, combining for 10 goals and 5 assists through their first six games. One of the big reasons? Flat out pace.

Speed on the wing led to RSL conceding a goal in Denver, and I assume the outside backs will be more cautious than usual when joining the attack this coming Saturday. With two teams who like to press, this one might come down to bad giveaways in the midfield. Hopefully RSL will be the one forcing the decisive turnover and not the one coughing it up.

LA Galaxy vs Seattle

Two teams that have consistently been at the front of the Western Conference for the past few seasons, and two teams that have mostly underwhelmed in the current campaign. Seattle lost 2-1 in The Return of Fredy Montero last week, while LA lost by the same scoreline to Orlando City. Both teams sit below the red line, but a win would likely send either team above it. Look for a wild one in Los Angeles.

Sweater Watch

I’m not a lot of fun at parties if you couldn’t tell. And while we should definitely celebrate Brooks Lennon’s #arrival last week, we should do so with the awareness that no good thing can last. We’re stuck in the Lennon Paradox right now: The better he plays, the more we want him to stay and the less likely he is to do so.

This is an alright problem to have, because if Lennon is successful in Europe (at Liverpool or elsewhere) it shows that our academy can develop top class talent, and that talent can continue to develop in Major League Soccer before making a mark overseas. This is the vision for the club, to provide that pipeline to the top levels, and let’s hope for many more young players that go the way of the Lennon. Enjoy him while he’s here.

Mailbag

The current depth chart should look like this for now assuming everyone is healthy:

LW

Plata, Saucedo, Velazco

RW

Lennon, Allen, Velazco

with Hernandez coming after Velazco. We have better options out wide than we’ve ever had, and with the MLS schedule there should be some good rotation and most everyone in that quartet (Lennon, Plata, Saucedo, Allen) should get minutes. The U-20 World Cup will give Allen a chance to work his way back into the rotation and prove he deserves minutes. Overall, the competition is great and I wish we had this problem at every position on the roster.

As far as where we need help, a backup center forward would be nice, but not as vital as other areas. Even as well as most center defenders have played, we still could use a TAM level signing on the backline to pair with a healthy Justen Glad. I think this has long been the plan for that money.

Another spot we could really upgrade is the number 8 spot in our central midfield. If Sunny can go on a vision quest and find his early 2016 form this is less crucial, but we really don’t have much going on in the center of the pitch. Luke Mulholland’s ceiling is “guy who can come of the bench and play really well” but he isn’t a decisive factor on the field, and a major upgrade there would bring balance to the midfield.

Quote of the Week

“I laid into them a little bit, but I didn’t need to. They laid into each other.”

-Mike Petke

A coach can only do so much, and it’s great to see the team taking responsibility and holding each other accountable. Let’s carry the intensity back home to the RIOT.

Anything I missed? Leave comments and MAILBAG QUESTIONS down below or hit me up on twitter, @thejayveesquad!