Before you get started, this is my first fanpost, and just to give you a warning… it is long.
So, with all of the soccer I have been watching the past few days between US friendlies/WC qualies, the Euros, and even some of the USOC games, I got to thinking about the Timbers and our attacking problems. Then we swapped forwards with Philly, and I thought about it even more (I liked Perlaza btw… I agree with KA over at slide rule pass about Perlaza’s value, despite his weak finishing… But I am also super psyched about having Mwanga!... Anyway, onwards). A big part of the trade was about gaining a strike partner for Boyd. This whole idea, while yes… it does have merit, I believe is a major contributing idea for why we are having issues on the attack this year. I will elaborate with two main ideas/concerns I have with Boyd and the system in place to fit him.
And for the record, I don't think the pieces around him are the main issue right now. I think we have guys in the midfield/attack that can and should be generating chances. So, onward to my 2 concerns:
1) I am a little pissed at Boyd’s effort some times, as too many times I see a ball played close to him or maybe a bit too far away, and he makes no effort to run for/fight for the ball; this happened a few times against Cal FC even. I have also seen him make gestures to other players telling them to make better passes. I am sorry, but when you are getting paid 10X more than the average player around you, and 5X more than the next highest paid player on the team... You better be working your ass off to earn that cash and not bitch to the other players, because that does nothing to help moral for the team, and probably builds up some resentment from the other guys... especially when you aren't finishing a lot of the chances you have been given.
In fact, this problem has come before in the league, when major cash guys, or DP’s as the league calls them, generate animosity amongst other players. This is why up until last year no team with a DP had won the MLS cup. I do feel that there is value in having those players, if they are the correct piece. And that is a major concern as well. We went out and got a big-money forward in the off-season (and in retrospect, it was basically a signing along the idea of: oh! This guy is free, let’s sign him!) without really having a system built to feed him the ball. Especially looking at KC at New York, I am not sure that was a piece we were in most need in the whole chance generation department… All of this leads me to my second point:
2) I am getting concerned about the system we play being too much of a... how should I say this... ummm... a "just get the ball to Boyd" system, and doesn't allow for much creativity. We have guys that can play and are exciting to watch. Alhassan, Nagbe, and a few other attacking options are all guys that can run at players and open up space. However, they don't often do this and often end up forcing passes or putting in bad crosses. Both of Nagbe's goals against RSL came through touch and creativity in the midfield, followed by great finishing. Boyd was nowhere to seen (and this is in no relation to point 1, just stating that the end doesn't always have to be through Boyd like we seem to press for). Yes, every once and awhile Nagbe, Alhassan, and others will do something spectacular and generate a chance (i.e. Alhassan, to a streaking Perlaza, cross in to Nagbe vs. Vancouver) without involving Boyd. But my point is that those are exceptions rather than the norm.
I guess, in summation, what I am trying to say in point 2 is that the system is forcing creativity to funnel balls to Boyd for a chance. Balls down the wing must be crossed in to the box, and balls down the spine need to make it to Boyd. Instead, it should be balls down the wings are crossed when there are multiple guys making runs/waiting for the cross, or run at guys and a) go to the byline to open up forwards that way, or b) open up your own shot, and if nothing is there then go back to the midfield to re-establish attack. It seems we have generated a system to fit a player, and just hope the other guys can work it, instead of having a system and getting all of the pieces in place to make it work.
I just feel like the attack is using Boyd as the million dollar man that needs to be the finisher 90% of the time, instead of using the creative force to generate chances... and maybe Boyd is just there to finish. (Actually, that should've been the summation, in retrospect)
Thoughts? Am I totally off-base? Am I right on? Somewhere in the middle?