As the heatmaps from the Colorado loss show, Laurent Courtois and Ryan Smith each bring a specific skillset—and limitations—to the pitch.
Laurent Courtois got the start last night and in his sixty minutes, attempted 3 shots (one on target) and took 3 corner kicks. When Ryan Smith replaced the Franc, he managed to squeeze off one shot (of which was on target).
From the Opta chalkboards you can see the similarities about end there.
Courtois, despite playing twice as much as Smith (59 minutes to 31) only had ten more “events” then Smith and the ball movement was all on the right (i.e. Bolanos) until Smith came in and impressed himself on the game.
That’s not necessarily a mark on Courtois; once Colorado scored in the 50th minute Chivas forgot the plot and brought a direct almost kick-and-rush mentality. Whilst the team won the 50th to 60th minute period, it was a pyrrhic victory. In the final minutes, the team lost their leg sand the Goats gave up an unprecedented (for this year at least) 3 additional goals.
As I see it, the second half epitomized two sizable—yet fixable—flaws about this years’ make and model:
1. Where are the cooler heads?
This sort of blind panic that sets in, this sudden urgency to rush down the field and “ready, fire, aim” as it were is hampering our teams anemic offense. Instead of pushing the ball up only to fire at first glance at the pipes, a calm veteran team builds its attack from the bottom and through the center. The flanks are great if theres an obstruction but surely the shortest distance to the opposing goal is through the center.
2. Too many cooks spoil the broth
This years crop is replete with an abundance of midfield talent. Yet as any veteran of Econ 101 knows there is a danger known as the law of diminishing returns. Put simply: there’s a point where profit or benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested.
We need points and as much as I love experimenting with new formations, the truth is the 4-4-2 is the most prevalent formation is the world is because it works. Sometimes its about taking what you got and putting it in a working system instead of trying to make the system work around your players.
If I’m making bread and instead of using molasses I use brown sugar it will be a disaster. A cook might argue, “but you see brown sugar has molasses but it has more stuff too!” just like a coach might say “but you see midfielders can score but they can also track back, defend and go all over the field.”
A simple analogy but an appropriate analogy.
All of which brings us to: who should be flanking the left in a 4-4-2? This is where the choice is its most appealing—each player brings a plethora of skills to succeed. In fact I would say with the burdens of scoring placed on another striker, both Smith and Courtois would be freed from the burden of trying to take the ball and score whenever they get the ball and space. That’s possession football, the cornerstone of the kind of attack Fraser favors.
By the way, Courtois is the map on the left—the more traditional left-winger. Smith on the right, appears best set for a bench role where he can use his skills as a marksman.