Patrick Vieira psyched out by Marsch, and time runs short for Sigi Schmid

Patrick Vieira

Patrick Vieira is unshakeable.

Vieira vexed by Marsch’s mental gambit

That has been his defining characteristic, first as a player and now, as a manager.

But there is something about Jesse Marsch that gets under his skin.

Through three matches this season, Vieira and Marsch have mixed like fire and gunpowder. In their first meeting of the year, Marsch called out Vieira on the questionable accusation of refusing to credit the Red Bulls in their 7-0 thrashing of NYCFC. He then took jabs at NYCFC for posting a photo of a club celebration on Twitter following their 2-0 win over the Red Bulls earlier this month.

As a result, touchline decorum has remained icy, with neither manager willing to shake the hand of the other – at least, according to Marsch.

In a high-stakes gambit, Marsch used some of that underlying hate to do what many thought was impossible: unsettle Patrick Vieira.

And he succeeded.

Taking a page out of NBA legend Phil Jackson’s playbook, Marsch called out the referees for preferential treatment in the lead up to this week’s rubber match. According to the Red Bulls boss, an “epidemic” was prevalent amongst the representatives of the Professional Referees Organization whom, in his view, simply refused to make calls on NYCFC’s DP trio of David Villa, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo.

His unprompted comments earned Marsch a fine from the league – a small price to pay in his master plan. While his accusations generated no response from NYCFC, the effect of his words were clear on Sunday. Marsch barked at the officials throughout the first half of play – but the response he dreamed of came during the first hydration break of the match.

Vieira was sent off by head official Mark Geiger for leaving his area during the stoppage in play. Instead of immediately heading for the tunnel, he stayed through the break, offering instruction to his players.

Marsch seized the moment and rattled his opponent. Like a barking chihuahua, the Red Bulls boss caused a scandal from his area, ratting on Vieira and forcing the referees to escort him off the field. Before reaching the tunnel, Vieira approached Marsch for a tête-à-tête with his bothersome counterpart.

“The conversation with Jesse was to stop crying,” Vieira said of the confrontation. “I think his team was playing well but he was quite really frustrated and I feel sorry for him.”

At that point, the Red Bulls led 2-0. But just as Vieira lost the mental game on the touchline, so did his team on the field. A series of mistakes and missteps eventually led to a 4-1 thrashing at Red Bull Arena.

After the match, Vieira was incensed – not by the play of his team or their lack of execution. Instead, he had Marsch on the mind – and that is exactly what the Red Bulls boss wanted.

“I think the comment from Jesse during the week had a massive impact on the referees, and of course, that had an impact on the way we play them,” Vieira said. “I think today, [referee Mark Geiger] made more decision in favor of the Red Bulls because the manager had been crying all week.

“In the end, [Marsch] gets what he wanted.”

Score one for the Princeton boy. DM

New York remains red as Red Bulls continue derby dominance

Both the Red Bulls and New York City FC won their fair share of battles this season, but after Sunday’s 4-1 thrashing at Red Bull Arena, it’s clear who won the war.

For the second straight year, New York is red – and that achievement was earned using a very familiar game plan. Marsch’s high-press system forced the older legs of New York City to exert themselves on both sides of the ball, nullifying their effectiveness. With the opponents neatly contained in their own third, the Red Bulls exhausted the NYCFC backline with 13 shots on the night, including nine on target.

But the relentless Red Bulls attack was only part of the story. The physical and mental battle also played into the hands of the hosts. Just two minutes into the match, Lampard was already feeling the boots of Dax McCarty, Felipe and company, creating a contentious environment that set the tone for the evening. Tackles were targeted. Players were isolated. So thrown off were NYCFC that several players simply began earning yellow cards with the ease of breathing. A total of seven yellows on the night not only resulted in the ejection of Ethan White, but will also mean the loss of David Villa, Federic Brillant and RJ Allen for their next match against Colorado as well.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, a jaunt from his technical area earned Vieira his aforementioned sending off.

The Red Bulls, meanwhile, kept their composure and played their game. They enjoyed a stunning 60% possession rate and 84% passing completion – all while netting four goals on nine shots on target. A familiar derby hero led the way in that last category. Despite converting just one goal through seven of his last matches, Bradley Wright-Phillips once again showed his class against NYCFC, netting a brace on the night. That tally gives him four goals against NYCFC in three matches this season.

Wright-Phillips’ achievement was equaled by Sacha Kljestan – the most influential player on the pitch this Sunday. Kljestan played a part in three of the team’s four goals, leading the offensive charge against a gasping NYCFC.

In their few jaunts to the Red Bulls area, New York City were nullified by outstanding individual efforts on the defensive side. Both Aurelien Collin and Ronald Zubar kept David Villa honest, limiting the league’s leading goalscorer to a pair of inconsequential and off-target shots on the evening. Meanwhile, Connor Lade smothered Jack Harrison on the wing, limiting him to 13 of 17 passing on an otherwise quiet night.

Despite the result, New York City FC will remain atop of the East for another week. That is the only silver lining Vieira will take from this match.

But this night belonged to the Red Bulls. And now, the City does as well. DM

Sigi Schmid’s time is up at the Seattle Sounders

Over seven years as head coach Sigi Schmid has come to define the Seattle Sounders in the MLS era. Taking charge of the club for their expansion season back in 2009, Schmid has succeeded in making the Sounders a play-off fixture and one of the league’s biggest and most consistently successful franchises. He has delivered four US Open Cups and a Supporters’ Shield over the course of his tenure. But it’s time he left it all behind.

Whether it comes by way of resignation or his firing, Schmid and the Sounders should part ways. It could come as early as this week following Sunday’s 3-0 defeat to Sporting KC, with Seattle at their lowest ever ebb as an MLS franchise. Schmid now finds himself caught up in the spiral that so few coaches manage to escape; the one that will sooner or later result in his dismissal.

As a former LA Galaxy and Columbus Crew head coach, Schmid is a stalwart of the North American game. But this season has underlined that he is a figure of a bygone time in MLS. He and Bruce Arena are seen as elder statesmen of the league, but while Arena continues to preside over one of MLS’s most successful sides, Schmid is only succeeded at running down the Sounders.

Indeed, Seattle are currently a side with very little going for them at present. They have won just two of their last 11 league fixtures, losing eight as they have slid to second bottom in the Western Conference. It took them until the 88th minute of Sunday’s defeat at Sporting Park to even register a shot on goal of any kind, meaning their only narrowly avoided becoming the first team in league history to go a whole match without firing off an effort.

Of course, the Sounders’ dismal form this season isn’t solely down to Schmid. general manager Gareth Lagerway should shoulder much of the blame for what has gone wrong at the club over the past two years. In that time the Sounders have gone from one of the most accomplished teams in MLS to the unbalanced, tangled mishmash they are today. That is down to the former Real Salt Lake GM just as much as it’s down to Schmid.

Nonetheless, big changes are needed at CenturyLink Field and they must start with Schmid departing his post. Seattle might decide to give the 63-year-old until the end of the season, especially with presumed replacement-in-waiting Jason Kreis filling the vacancy at Orlando City last week, but if they are planning for 2017 without Schmid what’s the use in waiting any longer to cut him loose? GR

Colorado v FC Dallas is becoming the West’s predominant contest

The season-defining top of the table clash at the head of this weekend’s MLS billing might not have materialised, but Saturday’s 1-1 draw between the Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas inadvertently underlined just why both sides occupy the Western Conference’s top two positions. The start contrast between the two teams wasn’t quite as explosive as hoped, yet the fixture could still set the tone for what is becoming a compelling contest.

With the league’s best attack pitted against the league’s best defense something had to give, right? Ultimately, no. However, that only illustrated how both these teams are setting themselves apart as the West’s predominant duo. Rather than make or break, this match highlighting how the Rapids and FC Dallas are both making it.

“I would say the standings don’t lie,” Oscar Pareja said after the draw. “The performance today shows that the two teams are doing great, I would agree with it.” Indeed, Saturday was one of those rare occasions when both sides returned to their respective dressing rooms after full-time in good spirits. FC Dallas are still three points clear at the top of the Western standings, but with three games in-hand Colorado are still in a suspended position of control.

The LA Galaxy have done as the LA Galaxy so frequently tend to do at this stage of the year, finding their groove by winning all of their last four fixtures to draw themselves to within three points of second place. However, there remains a sense that the Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas are still operating on a slightly higher level at the moment. The race for Western Conference honors is currently between two clubs.

Of course, that could change. FC Dallas still possess a rather inconvenient trait of capitulating when things get tough – as happened in the 5-0 thumping at CenturyLink Field not so long ago – while the Rapids remain one of MLS’s lowest scorers. There is still time for things to unravel, allowing the Galaxy to enter the fold as contenders. For the moment, however, Saturday’s game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park demonstrated why Colorado and FC Dallas are the most settled challengers in an otherwise wild West. GR

Kreis will land on his feet when he takes charge of Orlando City

Whenever a new manager watches their new team for the first time they normally do so through their fingers. Clubs tend to make managerial changes only when they are in a bad way. But while Orlando City aren’t where they had hoped to be at this stage of their second season in MLS, Jason Kreis surely watched only portions of his new team’s draw against the Columbus Crew from between this fingers. It wasn’t that bad.

Indeed, things aren’t that bad in general at Orlando City. They are outside the play-off places in the Eastern Conference, but only by three points. What’s more, they hold a game in hand over the New England Revolution above them. With little more than a slight upturn in form Orlando could quite soon find themselves exactly where they want to be. Coaches so often have to be crisis managers just as much as soccer managers, particularly when taking charge of a new team. But as new jobs go, Kreis has found himself a decent one.

Of course, there are challenges that Kreis will have to face. The franchise is in the process of an identity overhaul, from grassroots little team that could to MLS super-club, with a boardroom struggle for power a factor behind Adrian Heath’s dismissal as head coach earlier this month. The team on the field holds plenty promise, but Orlando City’s off the field situation certainly makes things more difficult for the new man in charge.

Nonetheless, when Kreis returns to soccer on Monday for the first time since his firing as New York City FC boss last year he will have landed on his feet. Saturday’s fight back from 2-0 down against the Columbus Crew to claim a 2-2 draw demonstrated that Orlando are still the group of fighters they were under Heath.

Now they have a manager who can improve their technicality and ability on the ball, making the most of talents like Kaka and Cyle Larin. On the face of things, Kreis would appear to be the ideal candidate to progress Orlando as the truly elite team they have such lofty ambitions of one day being.

But just like at NYCFC, Kreis will be expected to deliver almost immediately. Orlando’s position means he will take charge of a side with more than a few redeeming qualities, but it also means the only way is up and into the play-offs. In that sense, Kreis is in exactly the same place as he was 12 months previously, when the same demands were made of him by the City Football Group. When he takes charge of his new team on Monday things will be completely different, but also eerily similar. GR

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Dave Martinez and Graham Ruthven, for theguardian.com on Monday 25th July 2016 13.28 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

 

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