Sunday, September 23, 2012

Looking Forward

By all accounts, the Flyers have had a dream season, especially as an expansion franchise. However, the team's failure to qualify for the Majors Cup means that football season is over in the Rose City. Is it too early to start thinking about next season? Never. Let's take a few moments and look at what next year's team might look like.


First lets look at a few things that Rose City did right this year. Primarily, the strength of this team was in having a large number of strong, young players who could put up points during any game. The team wasn't one dimensional, relying on one or two players to provide all of the offense. The Flyers had eight different players add at least five points over the season and Mauro Rosales added thirteen all by himself. Marco Di Vaio's six looks like it could have been a similar total had he played MLS all season. This is the type of offense this team wants to continue building next year, looking for strong contributions across the lineup so that missing any one player doesn't prove to be a problem.

The keys to achieving this will be twofold. One, retaining the top performers from last year including Rosales, Chavez, and Di Vaio will be of prime importance to the continued success of the team. Two, retaining or acquiring dangerous young players who can, at any time, have a breakout game will also be important. This year that included Darlington Nagbe and Mike Magee. Adding more players like this to the lineup while avoiding players who show promise but fail to deliver will be important.

The Flyers also capitalized on being a team that drew very few cards this year. While their opponents racked up a total of 27 cards (red cards count as two), the Flyers were only responsible for 18. Though stats for the whole league haven't been compiled, it's fair to say that this was a big contributor to the Flyers winning as many games as they did while scoring relatively few points in the early going part of the season.

Not So Much

We've discussed what went right for Rose City but just as important, if not more for a team is looking at what went wrong. Far and away, there are two things that the Boys in Red need to get better at if they want another successful season next year. The first is an issue that only the Front Office can work on, and that is Lineup Failures. The Flyers started out the season with one in Week One and, though it didn't cost them the win, it did set a poor precedent. Lineup Failures are like spotting your opponent points before the game even kicks off and sooner or later, you'll get burned by one. The Flyers expect to see ZERO LFs listed in the box score during the 2013 BSL season.

The second issue that needs work was much more widely discussed this season and that is Rose City's low PPG. The average number of points the team scored was a point of league discussion as early as halfway through the season. The early middle part of the season was dominated by wins with scores like 2-0, 2-1, and 1-0. That's luck and while it's good to have, it's no replacement for skill. The Front Office addressed the issue and it did get somewhat better by the end of the season with Rosales returning from early season injury, the addition of former La Liga player Marco Di Vaio, and the heating up of Darlington Nagbe. However, it's almost impossible not to improve on 2.2 PPG for the first half of the season. The team finished at 2.5 PPG for the regular season and 2.7 for all games played. The one bright spot here is that the team was only shut out once all year (and that was the result of a Lineup Failure).

Improving the PPG issue is part luck and part science. Finding and acquiring players who regularly put points on the board is easier as a second year team. The expansion system leaves a front office with limited options before the draft and poor draft positions. Having a roster to choose DPs from could potentially have a big impact on this statistic. It is worth noting that the team's regular season average is well within the norm for expansion franchises. It's also considerably better the the 1.0 displayed by fellow 2012 expansion franchise KC Quest. The other teams that made the playoff cut had strong DP choices like Theirry Henry, Landon Donovan, Kenny Cooper, David Beckham, and Robbie Keane. Above and beyond that potential, increased planning immediately before the draft (especially with a low draft position once again) will be required to solve this issue.

With all this said, it goes without saying that Rose City is fully expecting another strong season next year. Major club goals include defending the BSL Cup and qualifying for the Majors Cup. As of this moment, the club intends to acquire the maximum number of allowable DP slots and trade aggressively to build a club with just as much luck, but much more consistency for its second season. The Front Office is happy to entertain any and all trade offers in the off season.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Flyers Win! Flyers Win!

Rose City 4 - 2 Pennsylvania

Rose City wins! The Flyers claimed the BSL Cup this weekend through their trademark combination of good play and good luck. There was No Pity on the Stoners this time as the Boys in Red doubled up for a score of 4 - 2. Points came from all sorts of places including goals from Marco Di Vaio and Mauro Rosales, an assist off of the streaking Darlington Nagbe, and a clean sheet for Josh Saunders. Pennsylvania got a Save Point from Gspurning and an assist from Robbie Keane but players who are normally dangerous like Kei Kamara and Emilio Renteria were strangely quiet.

This is the second playoff game that Rose City has dominated against a team they failed to beat in the regular season. Both Pennsylvania and the vanquished Gateway United got maximum points off of the Flyers during regular season play. Rose City remains undefeated in Playoff play at 2-0-0.

It truly has been a dream season for the expansion club. The Flyers went all season without losing two in a row and finished 15-7-2 including Playoff play. The club got started slowly following a 3 - 1 loss and a lineup failure in week one but strong play and even stronger luck to finish the first half of the season with several 2 - 0 and 1 - 0 wins kept the Flyers in the midst of the Playoff hunt the whole time. It's hard to say which half of the season was better. The team ended the period before Majors Cup Qualifying in first place. Ultimately the team's APG would be much stronger in the second half of the season but stronger play by the rest of the league as well would deny Rose City a spot in the Majors Cup. They're the first team since the BSL's inaugural 2009 season to win the BSL Cup while not qualifying for the Majors Cup. Asked about it, the teams coach had this to say:

"We went out this weekend and did what we could. Are we disappointed that we didn't qualify for the Majors Cup? Sure. Everybody wants to play as much football as possible and now our season's over. We would have liked to win the Honors Trophy too. But to come into an established league like this and win a major piece of hardware in your first season? That really speaks to the quality of the organization and the types of players we have playing for this team. I'm proud to coach them. I'm proud to lead them. Thanks."

The team also wanted to make clear that they're very open to trade talks and negotiations on the off season. The coach and front office insisted that there was still room for improvement in the Rose City and that this year's champions would be back even stronger next season.

"We know what it takes to play in this league now. We're not just scrabbling in the dark like we were at the beginning of the year. You can be we'll be back and back with a vengeance," the coach offered when asked. "We made do with the tenth spot in the draft order last season. Something tells me we'll make it work again."

BSL Cup Champions - Rose City 2012