With much of the talk this last week or two centering on PTFC hiring Caleb Porter I thought I would do a wee bit of digging to see what I could find out.
I tried the Akron Beacon Journal and the folks there said they couldn't speak to Porter's technical approaches so I next got a hold of TopDrawerSoccer.com and a known expert on the Akron Zips (Travis Clark).
In speaking with Travis, a staff reporter and editor, the most significant piece of info he could provide that helped shape a view for me to understand Caleb Porter was one phrase; Tika-Taka.
So before putting any additional words to paper I thought I would offer up this 8 minute 55 second video of Akron Zips tika-taka "execution" versus 8 paragraphs of tika-taka "talk".
So grab a quick bevvy and settle in by clicking here:
If you read past here I will assume that you have watched the video clip and seen some pretty stylish play and nicely integrated background music.
So the question begs to be asked -- what does that mean for PTFC in the future?
I'm not sure yet but I will offer these additional thoughts for your consideration.
We should see:
1. quicker thinking on the pitch
2. quicker passes
3. shorter passes
4. more controlled ball movement
5. fewer balls in the air
6. fewer long balls
7. fewer lengthy dribbles
8. less panic - more patience
9. driving more towards the top of the 18 to
10. improve overlapping opportunities from fullbacks at selected times while
11. using more space to make space that creates additional space
I'm not sure that directly translates to better results for PTFC in MLS yet - MLS is at a different level of play than most college soccer teams. The school of thought seems to indicate that college teams are about the same level of play as U-23 teams. But it seems reasonable that the more experienced a player becomes in this (gets more mature) the more effective they will be in executing as the level of play increases.
I've already heard that Caleb Porter works from the back - forwards... (defense first, defense second (tika - taka ball possession) and attack third so going into December I would offer that PTFC will:
1. Strive to get better on defense or get better players to get better on defense.
2. Strive to play quicker, shorter passes that should create more chances to get the ball in the back of the net and work to find a full squad of 18 players that can fit into this style.
3. Strive to play more entertaining & more cerebral soccer than ever before.
Some final overall thoughts for your deliberation as you polish off that bevvy:
1. Travis Clark indicated that the most common formation used by Caleb to go with this system was the 4-3-3 or a variant thereof (4-3-2-1, 4-2-3-1, 4-5-1 or perhaps (depending upon players) a 3-4-3.
2. From what I can see in the past 5-6 games PTFC are already taking small steps towards this style of play and my guess is that the first step in this process started when they hired Sean McAuley as they fired John Spencer. The philosophical difference should be pretty clear now if it wasn't back then.
In closing; I'm not advocating that this playing style we bring success over night - Klinsman is bringing the same style of play to the USMNT and that won't happen overnight either. It will take time but there is goodness and value in patience. Maybe running a system like this will help Darlington Nagbe and others increase their chances of playing on the USMNT with Klinsman.You can follow me on twitter at: https://twitter.com/ChrisGluckPTFC