Pitch Points has the Funk

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Ryan James. Photo by Tim Sullivan/For Club and Country.

The Funk. The friends over at Golden Goal bring the human interest piece on NSC defender Ryan James.

“He always had a funk about him where he could do things no one else could and get him out of trouble,” Nichols said. “That’s the funk we are talking about. He learned to position himself a bit better and not to rely on that stuff. He’s got more of complete game now and learned to use the funk in special moments.”

Good stuff in getting to know some of the players on the field as more than just… the players on the field. This NSC roster is full of good dudes, and interesting ones. They’re more than just guys who get paid to run around for a couple hours on weekends from Spring through Fall.

The benchmark(s). Let’s check in on how the last ten MLS expansion teams performed in their inaugural match.

That is eight points in ten matches, with a goal differential of plus-5. Obviously, every team has a bit of a different run-up, and NSC will likely be taking a team that has been playing together up a level rather than starting from scratch (and will be ramping up the talent in the course of the next two years). That’s most similar to Vancouver, Montreal, Orlando, and Minnesota – with Orlando and Minnesota the tightest comparisons.

Obviously, this dataset just includes one match per team and we can get into more robust comparisons over the next couple years.

Other comparisons? The USL inaugural game attendance record is 20,231 and the move to Nissan Stadium is obviously to accommodate the potential of breaking that record. For what it’s worth, the overall USL record is 30,417, but that one’s more likely to fall (if at all) for the July 7 Cincinnati game than the home opener.

In pitch points, we talk about development. (Like every time). The MLS minutes matrix is going to be interesting to follow from a #playyourkids perspective. As regular readers know, I’m a little torn about that specific worry as it relates to development. Better academies, more second-division clubs to get players on the field, etc. are far more pressing matters than giving time to the guys signed.

Meanwhile, Shaq Moore took the “head to Spain” development path, and is hoping to figure in the USMNT picture soon. As I’ve said (including very recently), the more paths to professional soccer for young Americans, the better.

From across the pond, an academy system success story. Obviously the English academies are far more established (80 years straight and counting of a homegrown player on every starting lineup for Man U, whereas we’ve had our current Division-1 league for barely over two decades, much less academy systems), but there are lessons to be learned about the value in developing young players. Being able to collect solidarity payments, sell players’ rights, and continue the development cycle… check back later.

Etc. Does roster consistency correlate with better results during a season? The causal direction of this relationship is an interesting thought exercise. … Cincinnati Soccer Talk‘s podcast post-NSC. … Pro-rel arguments (on both sides) have become v. v. stupid, and this is one of those. Anything saying “the USSF de-sanctioned NASL to protect MLS” instead of having a grip on reality starts on a real weak foot with me. “Ricardo Silva made an obviously bad-faith ‘offer’ for MLS media rights that I actually use as an important argument in my column” is grounds for my not reading past the first few paragraphs. … Some World Cup performance analysis and what it mean for the Americans. It’s a little on the overly harsh side, but there are obviously some salient points, as well. … Refugees are almost always good people. Sometimes they are also good soccer players.

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