In the haze of Arizona United's admittedly big 2-1 win over La Galaxy II, I saw this tweeted about the game.
Let's pump the breaks. It's just the second game of the season. No one is on fire yet. And the Galaxy a powerhouse? They are now 0-2-1 to begin the season. There's a chance both team's fortunes shift dramatically before the season ends. There is still a lot about this team we don't know quite yet.
That said. It is kind of fun to just let loose and bask in the positive attention of a 2-0-0 start and I guess I can't really fault any fan for thinking this way. I just hope no one gets injured if they decide to jump off the bandwagon. On to the observations.
Arizona United Looked Bad in the First Half
The following gif happened fairly early in the mach, but it pretty much sums up how it felt watching the team play the entire first half. (It's sped up a little).
LA was applying a lot of pressure and Arizona only seemed to be able to move backward. As a result, a lot of Arizona's early attempts at attacking were long direct balls that resulted in nothing.
It all made for a very uninspiring first half. Now LA should be given some credit for defending well and Arizona was just playing it's second match of the season. It will be interesting to see if the slow start becomes a trend and if this long, direct play will be a main feature of the attack.
Fortunately Arizona benefitted from an LA mistake and scored a goal early in the second half, which really opened things up for them. And that's great because...
The long, direct ball can work!
I think Dellorusso would still prefer possessing the ball, keeping it on the ground, and building up play through the middle and then toward the outside where overlapping wingers and fullbacks await. But with forwards like Long Tan and Dennis Chin up top, throwing the occasional long ball can be deadly.
This was one of the few bright spots in the first half. The defender may have overshot his target a bit, but by forcing the defender to do something (anything) with the ball, Long Tan winds up with the ball at his feet and plenty of space to try and score.
In the above play, the deep ball got Chin isolated out wide and he took advantage of his defender to give himself a shot.
Again, I think the team is better suited from keeping the ball on the ground more when they attack, but at least they've proven they can create dangerous chances with the long ball. But regardless if it's through the air or on the ground...
Dennis Chin and Long Tan Need to Have the Ball
The play began off a throw in. Than is the player who falls to the ground and still manages to keep the ball away from his defenders before passing it off to Chin. Chin then fights through more defenders, attacks the box, and at the last minute centers a pass back toward the middle where Tan eventually buries it.
I think this will be one of the best goals not talked about in 2015 because it doesn't hit you as a highlight-reel goal. But Tan keeps the attack alive while on his ass. Then has the wherewithal to get up, sit back, and provide Chin with a passing opportunity. And Chin's run alone, (plus the pass) is a thing of beauty.
I don't like the whole "who deserved to win the game?" conversation. If you won the game, you deserved it. Plain and simple. But Arizona United didn't play well enough to win for the first 50 minutes of the game and they definitely would've been happy with just a point after 90 minutes.
But they escaped with three points and they did it on a night when they were far from running on all cylinders. You can't clinch a playoff spot in March or April, but you can begin losing it. Arizona United isn't close to it's full potential and that should scare the rest of the conference.