So here’s the “group stage” draw for the Deodorant Cup in July:
So, first, I think this is kind of odd because of the utterly random nature it gives this “tournament”. Portland, to pick just us, plays only four of the potential eight opponents once. That means there’s no chance to make adjustments to do better playing that opponent again. It’s, in effect, a “one and done” group round; get your tactics or your matchups wrong and, boom, you got zero points.
Second, the way it’s scheduled means the turnaround for the first and last two matches is punitive; two matches with three days rest, then a week off, then two more short-rest matches. Why not space the games out more? With 17 days for the round four off-days between matches would have brought the round in at roughly the same length but given the players another full day’s rest.
I was chatting this news over with my compa Richard Hamje, who noted that The Red Stars have by far the easiest draw in this stage; the 4 worst teams of 2019, and the Damned Courage are next easiest with 3 of the 5 non-playoff teams from last season. Some people…
On the other hand, Richard noted, Orlando and Salt Lake have the hardest draws – 3 of the 4 playoff teams from last season.
And as for the results of the draw itself for the Thorns, well…I’m okay but not thrilled with it.
We know what we’re going to get with The Damned Courage, and if we can scrape a point out of that match I will be thrilled. Given the short run-up and Riley’s well-known fitness obsession I’ll be shocked if the Damned don’t come out smoking hot and run us off the pitch. If Parsons goes with a 4-1-4-1 and plays the bunker I’ll be fine with that one. Take the point, learn, adjust, and then smack them around in the knockouts.
Orlando’s still a shitshow – right now they have something like seven or eight internationals (depending on who’s got a green card – I think Plummer might have one but I’m too lazy to go look) and only four international slots.
They also got hosed in this draw: Chicago, us, Carolina, and Sky Blue? Ouch. Richard put it best in our discussion: All of man’s monuments will have fallen to sand before Orlando gets a break.
Tacoma is, frankly, an enigma. They’ve changed so much since they were the team that slapped us around last season; new owners, new coach, fairly massive roster churn…they could be dangerous, they could be disastrous, they could be anything in between. And Washington has always been roughly our equals and that match could go either way.
So let’s say we grind out a draw against the Damned on Matchday 1…pick up the three points that will drop out of Orlando’s pocket on Matchday 3…it’s going to come down to Matchdays 6 and 8 to decide where we go through.
Because we will go through – it’d take a meteorite strike to drop all 12 points, and Orlando could easily do that and bag the Wooden Deodorant Stick – but I’d rather go through matched up with someone we can play heads-up in the quarterfinal, like Utah or Washington, than the Damned or last-season’s Tacoma.
Couple more random thoughts before we go:
Sadly, I fear that the play is likely going to be crude; given the long layoff, the short run-up, and the “one-and-done” nature of all these games? Nobody’s going to feel all that confident enough to want to open up and finding out that they’ve read their opponents (or their own quality) all wrong, and give up two goals in the first half hour. Playing pretty soccer is going to be tough with a month to train and one-and-done. I’m betting teams are going to play either grinding defense or Route One, or both. That will be a bad look for what I hope will be a large viewing audience. I hope not, but I’m worried that the timeframe doesn’t give too many other options.
And I’m worried about injuries. Same problem; short run-up, crude play…bad enough to be risking the Plague, but who the hell wants an ACL tear at any time, much less the Plague Year?
But here we are. It may not be such of a muchness, but it’s the season we have.
Thoughts? Let’s discuss in the comments…