Hello! You may have only just finished reading Part 4, or indeed not even read it yet, but here’s Part 5! In Part 4 we had just finished a disappointing first season with Portland that saw us finish outside the play-offs. The board were not amused and I was under pressure. I’m going to break this post (and most posts going forward) into competitions, players, tactics, transfers and any other business. It’s a format I like to read and therefore write. Let’s go!
The season ended in December and I spent the rest of the month identifying targets and off-loading players before I got busy in the new year.
The first player I brought in was Mix Diskerud who was transfer-listed at New York. Mix has had his problems in real life and has actually left the league but his ability to play any of the midfield roles drew me to him. I then agreed deals to bring in the experienced Alexis Henriquez from Atletico Nacional for £100,000 and the versatile Diego Renan for £40,000 from Chapecoense in defence, two bargains as far as I was concerned.
Joca and Luis Gil added even more midfield cover but my picks from the Superdraft didn’t really change anything. I still felt I needed a striker and after much looking I ended up killing two birds with one stone by trading Adi away to Sporting Kansas City in return for their very exciting forward Diego Rubio.
In the summer as you can see I made four big signings bringing in Eric Lichaj and Sven Ulreich on free transfers and then Reece Burke and Tammy Abraham on loan. More on them later.
As mentioned in the last post I had decided I was going to put my faith in the diamond, with fluid mentality and just work ball into the box. I was inspired by FM Samo’s post on his tactic about he kept things simple and having seen success doing this with Argentina I decided to do the same.
The central midfielders have no specific role as the team is built around getting the best out of my No.10. The target man acts as a link between attack and midfield and I’ve discovered that strangely teams don’t seem to mark him too tightly when he is on support.
As you’ll see below it didn’t go well at the start. I’ll admit I knee-jerked a little bit here and decided to make a couple of tweaks to get to what you see above, I wanted to keep the ball a little more so went to control and shorter passing. Not massive changes but they made a difference.
CONCACAF Champions League
I wasn’t expecting a lot against Club America and a 5-2 aggregate defeat was about the best I could have hoped for. Honestly their team was just a farce. Darwin Quintero and Silvio Romero up top with Andre Cubas one of the names in midfield. Props to their manager Ricardo La Volpe for this whacky formation.
As Open Cup winners we went back into the group stages at the end of the season and we went through that pretty easily.
US Open Cup
As I discussed last time I didn’t care and we went out after our first match.
In our first four matches we suffered 3-1 and 5-1 losses to Columbus and San Jose respectively. We did manage to beat Chicago and Minnesota in that but I didn’t really care as those teams weren’t great. The San Jose match in particular was a real worry.
This is was when I made the changes I mentioned earlier and the results were devastating.
We lost just twice after that in the regular season and scored a total of 73 goals, breaking all sorts of records. We didn’t have the best defensive record but even when we conceded I was always confident we would create enough chances to score and we scored in all but three matches.
We dismantled San Jose (revenge is sweet) and Dallas in the Western Conference play-offs which set up the MLS Cup match against Montreal.
The nerves definitely got to us a little and it was one of the busiest matches our defence had but we got the goal we needed and finished the season as champions!
The star of the show was Wilson. He missed the run-in with injury but 18 goals in 36 games is an excellent return and he led a front line where Rubio, McInerney and Abraham all hit double figures. Ulreich was a revelation in goal and well worth his Designated Player contract whilst Burke shored up the defence and gave some much needed pace.
Valeri struggled with injury and in midfield it was Mix who stood out, scoring eight goals and registering nine assists. Not double figures but Mix proved to be a big game player, he stepped up precisely when it mattered.
So after winning the MLS Cup I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going. Did I feel I was finished in Portland? No, for one I hadn’t won the CONCACAF Champions League yet.
However Ulreich picked up a five month injury in pre-season, the timing of the transfer window prevented me from renewing Abraham’s loan and we missed out on a number of key signings. This led to a sense of frustration at the start of the 2019 season.
Things were complicated when Leicester City, Swansea City, Southampton and Derby County all offered me interviews. I actually went to the Swansea one (another man-crush this time for Gylfi Sigurdsson) but I ended up rejecting all the offers.
Understandably the board and the fans now love me but I still think I’m going to move on. However if I’m going to take a job in the Premier League I think it’s got to be one of the top six/seven sides and even then I’m not convinced I’ll take it. I’d like to go to Spain or Germany or maybe somewhere like Mexico so here’s my plan.
I’m currently at the end of February with a CONCACAF Champions League tie against Tigres to come. I’m going to play that and probably play to May/June. I’ll then see if I get offered any other jobs, ideally in my preferred leagues.