Eastern Conference Notes: Winter satisfied, Ngwenya struggling & more

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 Photo by Nick Turchiaro/ISIphotos.com

By THOMAS FLOYD

If one thing has become clear during Aron Winter's tenure in charge of Toronto FC thus far, it's that the stern Dutch coach is hardly ever pleased with his side.

After Toronto used a Maicon Santos equalizer to pick up a 1-1 draw at Vancouver in the first leg of the Canadian Championship on Wednesday, Winter conceded he was satisfied with the outcome — even if he wasn't in his team's overall play.

"We didn’t play well," he said after the match. "But sometimes even when you don’t play well, to get a good result, it's good."

Here is some more news from around the Eastern Conference:

CHICAGO FIRE

Having played his way into the starting lineup after finding scarce minutes his rookie year, Corben Bone feels like he is a good fit for the advanced midfield role he has been playing in Chicago's new 4-1-4-1 alignment.

"My style is short passes and connecting with people and then playing one-twos, being dynamic and mobile," Bone told the Daily Herald in Chicago. "So yeah, I think the formation we're playing, what [coach Carlos de los Cobos] has said so far, he kind of likes that style of play.

COLUMBUS CREW

Although the Crew sits just two points out of first place in the Eastern Conference, its eight-goal total is the second-worst in the league. As a result, coach Robert Warzycha is looking for some improved precision in the attacking third.

"We have to be more decisive, basically, with the last pass," he said this week at training. "Whoever we have on the field – whether it's two forwards, three forwards or two wingers and a forward – we're creating chances but we're not scoring the goals. The chances are very, very clear. We have to be sharper in front of the goal."

D.C. UNITED

With strikers Charlie Davies and Josh Wolff suffering from a strained hamstring and groin, respectively, United will be depending on its depth in a friendly against Ajax on Sunday and possibly in the team's return to league play the following week at Portland. Among the options is Joseph Ngwenya, who is still looking for his first MLS goal with United.

"For me right now, it seems like I'm a second late to everything," Ngwenya said after United's 1-1 tie with Colorado last weekend. "And for a forward, that's all it takes. I just have to keep working because I'm sure I'll get a goal eventually in one of these games and get us a win."

HOUSTON DYNAMO

Without a true playmaker in central midfield, the Dynamo has largely depended on service from the flanks — especially from the lethal left foot of winger Brad Davis. With 13 goals, a total only surpassed by Los Angeles, the strategy seems to be working.

"Overall, the more you put the ball in the box with numbers around it, the more you can create some dangerous situations," coach Dominic Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com. "And the more you put your foot on the ball, the more you can probe, and it can open things up for you, which is what we want to do."

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

Coming off back-to-back shutouts against Colorado and Vancouver, New England's defense appears to be coming together. With recent injuries to centerback Franco Coria and left back Didier Domi, the team has seen reserves Ryan Cochrane and Darrius Barnes step into the lineup without missing a beat.

"I think as time goes on, we're coming together a little better," defender Kevin Alston said to ESPN Boston. "I think we have a good core in the back and we're just trying to be on the same page and communicate well."

NEW YORK RED BULLS

Once a focal point of the Red Bulls' attack, winger Dane Richards has evolved into a complementary role following the acquisitions in the last year of players such as Thierry Henry, Luke Rodgers and Dwayne De Rosario. Although he isn't completely pleased with his one goal on the season, he realizes he needs to not press and simply continue playing his part.

"Fans expect goals, but I supply the crosses, I make the runs," Richards told MLSsoccer.com. "I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing and not change anything. I wouldn't say I'm happy, but the offense has played well, done some good things."

PHILADELPHIA UNION

After rotating through a series of players at right back in 2010, Union coach Peter Nowak has settled on Sheanon Williams at the position this season. The 21-year-old has been a key piece of the Union's stellar back line, and he also showed his versatility when he slid inside to fill in for the sick Danny Califf during a 1-0 loss to Portland earlier this month.

"I feel really good about my game right now, and I know how hard it was to get to this point," Williams said to PhiladelphiaUnion.com. "At the same time, I know how much work goes into training every day. I come in with a good attitude every day and listen to the coaches. I trust my teammates and enjoy playing with them. It’s a great situation and I don’t take it for granted." 

SPORTING KANSAS CITY

With Kansas City sitting on a league-worst four points through seven games while enduring its long road trip to start the season, playmaker Ryan Smith pinpointed "confidence" as the root of the team's struggles in a live chat with fans on Wednesday.

"We know we have a team capable of winning," Smith wrote. "We've had a string of bad results obviously. The belief is there, it will always be there, but the confidence is what is low right now."

This entry was posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- Chicago Fire, MLS- Columbus Crew, MLS- D.C. United, MLS- Houston Dynamo, MLS- New England Revolution, MLS- New York Red Bulls, MLS- Philadelphia Union, MLS- Sporting Kansas City, MLS- Toronto FC. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Eastern Conference Notes: Winter satisfied, Ngwenya struggling & more

  1. Justice from the Big D says:

    First!

    One of the reasons I’ve been such a staunch supporter of MLS is the fact that’s it’s a global league. At least I like to think of it that way. It’s a North American league by virtue of geography, but when you watch teams play you realize that teams exhibit different global influences.

    Some teams employ a more possession oriented (South American, Mexican, etc.) game. Others from time to time exhibit a more English or German brand of football- much more physical, more frenetic box to box play, etc. Sure some of this is attributable to personnel- ultimately the way a team plays is based on the ability of its players. But I can’t help but think that the variety of playing styles w/in MLS has to do with the fact that it’s a North American league where many different cultural influences intermingle.

    You could watch Bundesliga, EPL, La Liga, FMF, Eredivisie matches, and on down the line and say “That’s typical (insert country demonym here)football.” due to the fact that these countries are more culturally insular than the United States/Canada , thereby resulting in a more readily labeled “nationalized” brand of football. I don’t think it’s as easy to do that with MLS as a result of the vastly more varied cultural influences at work in North America (I also get that this is at least partially attributable to the fact that MLS is a nascent league).

    All of that goes to my next and more important point- I think it’s fantastic that TFC are going after this Total Football style of play. I genuinely hope that the fans and the FO give Aron Winter and his staff time to get the system and players in place to really see results. And while I’m not a TFC supporter, I’d hate to see this guy go one and done just because of one tough season. To quote the movie Wall Street “good things, somtimes, take time”. Here’s hoping TFC sees the forest in spite of the trees on this one.

    That could just be me, though.

  2. Prita says:

    Def more exciting than the old USA/MLS 1.0 style of bunker and hope to get lucky on a hoof ball…see Bruce Arena.

    TFC needs to be more flexible with the payroll and get some big name players. They make enough money to afford it. The fans deserve it. You can see they are getting frustrated with a consistent loser. De Guzman is a good player, but he is more of a holding/linking player and not a lone playmaker. Tchani is a step in the right direction, but he is not ready to lead the team yet. Gordon and Santos? They could do better than that.

  3. BellusLudas says:

    KC – Bravo….hmmm

  4. Justice from the Big D says:

    That’s the other half of the equation and it goes back to my point. TFCs staff moves can scream “Aspirational, Total Football” but it’s player acquisitions have to be in step with the team vision. Sure they can’t get it all in one year, but I agree that they can do better than Gordo and Maicon Santos.

  5. CJ says:

    SKC needs to play Ryan Smith also…one of the nest Left Wingers in the league…

  6. Dead, with my organs hanging out says:

    KC’s Stadium pics look really good, didcha catch those? Because, that’s the only positive I’ve seen for the club, thus far, this season.

  7. Cappa says:

    De Guzman should be a backup…just not MLS starting caliber

  8. Dugo says:

    Waiting for this year’s Thierry Henry-signing. Hopefully Drogba or Anelka come to the US.

  9. Bummy says:

    How about Folan? That would be a major coup

  10. SportingBMW says:

    Definitely. Sporting also needs to switch to a 4-4-2 and scrap this 4-3-3. It didn’t work well last year, and it definitely isn’t working this year. Sporting is getting owned in the midfield. When the full team is healthy, and the new stadium is open, I expect KC to start playing a lot better.