Skip to content

Hey Nerds! Zonal Marking geeked out on your MLS Cup!

Dec 6, 2012, 7:58 PM EST

Screen shot 2012-12-06 at 3.25.59 PM

Just imagine Liz Lemon saying that headline …

… and please, don’t take offensive to it.. Anybody who reads the site regularly (a) is a saint!, and (b) knows I’m not above digging deep into the tactical side of things (as you’ll see in about 300 words).

Of course, if the virtual mecca for that kind of stuff is Michael Cox’s Zonal Marking, which once a year casts its eye west for Major League Soccer’s final.

The first time I remember Cox doing this was for the Colorado-Dallas final in Toronto (2010). Hopefully he didn’t make too many judgments based on that game, because that was rough 120 minutes (albeit with a decent payoff).

The last two seasons have given ZM some better soccer to write about, with Saturday’s match turning into an exhibition of what MLS 2.0 has to offer.

Click here to get all of Zonal Marking’s thoughts, but the general points:

  • 4-4-2 vs. 4-4-2 made for a straight forward battle;
  • Kofie Sarkodie overlapping a pinched-in Boniek Garcia made Houston’s right the first half’s key battle zone;
  • Unusual for today’s style of soccer, a working the channels approach dominated the game on both sides;
  • Calen Carr’s departure hurt Houston’s ability to utilize that approach in the second half;
  • LA’s dominance on set pieces defined the second half, Houston lacking somebody to counter Omar Gonzalez’s aerial dominance.

A couple of things that help round out the picture, things that are difficult to pick up without watching the teams throughout the season:

  • Part of LA’s success on set pieces was due to Tally Hall’s tendency to stay on his line. On the second goal, Gonzalez was able to cut him off, winning Beckham’s chip;
  • Houston was playing a higher line than usual, perhaps a consequence of Kinnear asking Clark to venture forward more to try and contain Beckham (and moving his defense up to keep from being stretched). At one point in the first half, LA was called for offside within five yards of the center line;
  • I would say the freedom Beckham had was less to do with Clark playing deep than LA’s adjusting to Clark staying at the same level as his wide midfielders (if not higher). Beckham ended up dropping deep and to the right, at times drawing Calen Carr’s attention because of how far he’d drifted;
  • Landon Donovan was pulling Houston’s center backs all over the place. The 12th minute long ball from Beckham to Robbie Keane (which ended in Donovan missing a sitter) was created by Donovan pulling Bobby Boswell out of position. Jermaine Taylor also had trouble deciding when to release and when to track Donovan.
  • Aside from Adam Moffat’s assist on Calen Carr’s goal, Houston’s central midfield really struggled in the offensive phase. Ricardo Clark continually let himself get lost between Beckham and Juninho, while neither he nor Moffat where getting the ball to Garcia and Brad Davis quick enough.
Latest Posts
  1. Burnley adamant that striker Danny Ings isn’t headed to Liverpool

    Jan 30, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

    danny_ings

    Danny Ings looks poised to stay at Burnley due to transfer rules that would block his departure to Liverpool.

  2. US international Joe Gyau has second surgery, could be out for rest of year

    Jan 30, 2015, 6:05 PM EST

    2012 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying - Day 3 Getty Images

    United States and Borussia Dortmund II’s Joe Gyau underwent another surgery on his torn meniscus, and he could be done for the season.

  3. With Cristiano Ronaldo suspended, Gareth Bale takes center stage against Real Sociedad

    Jan 30, 2015, 5:20 PM EST

    Real Madrid's Ronaldo celebrates a goal with team mate Bale against Galatasaray during their Champions League soccer match in Istanbul Reuters

    Real Madrid midfielder Gareth Bale will replace Cristiano Ronaldo as the current world’s best player will serve a two-match ban coming from last week’s tilt vs. Cordoba.

  4. Premier League Preview: Hull City vs. Newcastle United

    Jan 30, 2015, 4:35 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Preview of Hull City vs. Newcastle on NBSCN this Saturday morning.

  5. Juan Agudelo’s return an excellent occurrence for New England Revolution

    Jan 30, 2015, 3:45 PM EST

    Juan-Agudelo-New-England-Revolution-Getty-Images Getty Images

    Juan Agudelo is back with Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution, and amidst a few possible issues, there is no reason his addition cannot help guide Jay Heaps’ side to victorious ways in the East.

  6. Premier League transfer needs: What’s been done and what’s left to do by Monday?

    Jan 30, 2015, 3:07 PM EST

    ACF Fiorentina v SSC Napoli - Serie A Getty Images

    Let’s take a gander at how things may’ve changed since JPW checked the needs earlier this month.

  7. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 23

    Jan 30, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every PL game during Week 23, here.

  8. Saturday’s Chelsea-Manchester City match expected to break viewing records

    Jan 30, 2015, 1:48 PM EST

    Chelsea and Man City will square off early in the season. AP

    If my math’s right, and it probably isn’t, close to 10 percent of the world’s population will watch Manchester City visit Chelsea on Saturday.

  9. Asian Cup final preview: Can Australian hosts deny South Korea’s first title since 1960?

    Jan 30, 2015, 1:06 PM EST

    FBL-ASIA2015-AUS-KOR Getty Images

    The Socceroos have received a single goal from nine other players in a bid to become the first hosts to win the Asian Cup since Japan in 1992.

  10. Geoff Cameron predicts Super Bowl XLIX win for his New England Patriots

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:52 PM EST

    USA Training & Press Conference - 2014 FIFA World Cup Getty Images

    Cameron talks about his love for the Pats, growing up in Boston and more in his latest dispatch from England.

  11. VIDEO: PST Extra – Costa’s suspension, and how will Frank Lampard be received at Stamford Bridge?

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:22 PM EST

    Lampard Getty Images

    PST’s Joe Prince-Wright and Mike Prindiville sit down to talk Lampard vs. Chelsea in this week’s PST Extra, with a little Diego Costa suspension talk as well.

  12. Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Manchester City, Arsenal, Saints to win

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:02 PM EST

    Pablo Zabaleta Pablo Zabaleta

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor predicts the winners and losers in Week 23.

  13. Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Manchester City

    Jan 30, 2015, 11:40 AM EST

    Chelsea v Manchester City - Premier League Getty Images

    There are big ones, and there are bigger ones… and this one’s a doozy.

  14. Manchester United signs youngster from Scholes-, Giggs-owned semipro side

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:54 AM EST

    www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/ www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/

    There’s quite a bit of saccharine in this perfect PR story, but it’s a cool tale nonetheless.

  15. San Francisco 49ers brass announced as investors in Sacramento Republic

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:19 AM EST

    sacbee.com sacbee.com

    “We have more 49ers season ticket holders in Sacramento than we do in San Francisco,” the 49ers CEO said

  16. Man City’s Pellegrini hopes stamping ban will change “top player” Costa

    Jan 30, 2015, 9:33 AM EST

    FBL-ENG-PR-WEST HAM-MAN CITY Getty Images

    The Manchester City manager made the comments during the pre-Chelsea press conference on Friday.

  17. Louis van Gaal: No Carrick for month, no new signings, Fletcher is at West Ham

    Jan 30, 2015, 8:48 AM EST

    Limited but talented, Michael Carrick's virtues are the subject of a constant debate around Manchester United's midfield. The England international, however, is less of a problem than the players who have been chosen to play around him. (Photo: Getty Images) Getty Images

    Louis van Gaal’s Red Devils host Leicester City at 10am ET on Saturday.

  18. Ban upheld: Diego Costa to miss Saturday’s visit from Manchester City, 2 more

    Jan 30, 2015, 7:46 AM EST

    Costa to miss out vs. Palace? Getty Images

    This further limits Jose Mourinho’s options for Saturday’s match, and will also keep Costa from a trip to Aston Villa and a visit from Everton.

  19. Report: Liverpool hoping to buy Ings, loan striker back to Burnley for season

    Jan 30, 2015, 7:35 AM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Much like their signing and loaning back of Divock Origi at Lille this summer, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers makes an investment in the future.

Featured video

Chelsea v Man City: Lampard the hero?