Lax defending -- we're being very generous -- contributes to MLS's record goal production

MLS set a record in Week 3 with 47 goals scored in 12 games, one more goal than the previous record of 46 set on Decision Day in 2017 (over 11 games).

MLS Top 5 Golazos

The goals came in all varieties, from players old (Wayne Rooney's first MLS hat trick for D.C. United) and young (18-year-old Brenden Aaronson with a goal in his debut for Philadelphia against Atlanta United), from all four Rodriguezes (Memo, Lucas, Victor and Angelo), from stunning solo efforts (Lucas Rodriguez's volley off Rooney's corner kick) and from collective work (the 25-pass sequence that led to Chris Pontius' goal for the LA Galaxy).

Teams like Seattle, LAFC and D.C. United have all their attacking pieces in place and are breaking down opponents with stunning precision, pushing the league's goals-per-game average to 3.20 after 35 games.

It's no secret that MLS's spending initiatives have placed a priority on signing attacking players with the use of TAM and Discretionary TAM. But that doesn't explain how lax -- and we're being very generous -- some teams have been defending.

Nine MLS teams are giving up at least two goals a game:

1. Portland, 3.33
2. San Jose, 3.00
3. Chicago, 2.33
3. Vancouver, 2.33
5. Colorado, 2.00
5. New England, 2.00
5. Orlando City, 2.00
5. Philadelphia, 2.00
5. Real Salt Lake, 2.00

You can go down the list and point out how bad they've been. We've just mention a couple of examples ...

Mathieu Deplagne must be thanking his lucky stars he came up against a team like the Portland Timbers after going nine seasons in France without scoring a goal in Ligue 1 or Ligue 2. The Timbers left him all alone in front of their goal to tap in expansion FC Cincinnati's third goal in its 3-0 win. The 2018 MLS runners-up have given up three, four and three goals in their first three games.

Tap-ins were the order of the day at Red Bull Arena, where the Earthquakes took a 1-0 lead into the break against the Red Bulls but then imploded. No defender was within five yards of Alex Muyl when he put away the first of four unanswered Red Bull goals -- none from farther than three yards out.

Real Salt Lake's defensive issues on Saturday came out of nowhere. It had given up one goal in its first two games before conceding an MLS season-high five to D.C. United at Audi Field, a performance that had RSL coach Mike Petke scratching his head.

“I hope these guys go out,” Petke said. “I never say this to my players. I don’t encourage it. But I hope they go out and have a drink tonight together as a group, you know? The old drown-your-sorrows-in-a-beer type thing."

Photo: Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire

3 comments about "Lax defending -- we're being very generous -- contributes to MLS's record goal production".
  1. Wooden Ships, March 18, 2019 at 11:33 a.m.

    I like Petkes thinking. The Science of soccer is certainly a buzz kill.

  2. R2 Dad, March 18, 2019 at 3:01 p.m.

    None of this is a surprise. We've never developed a world class defender and may not for another 25 years. We don't teach our players how to think, only what to do. "Be here. Be there". "Don't do this". Don't make mistakes". The fans and parents don't help. We tolerate mistakes and turnovers from our attackers and midfielders, but totally lose our sh*t when a defender turns the ball over in a dangerous area. News to coaches and parents: kids, even good players of highschool age, don't like getting yelled at. In the US we talk about using our best athletes--what about the athletes that have played the sport but quit because of all the negativity from coaches and parents?

    The peak in player participation rates should have been ringing alarm bells at US Soccer for the past 5 years, but all we've gotten has been "all is well". Where are the surveys to get to the root of the problem, Carlos? What are the problems, and where are the fixes, Carlos? You'll need to ask difficult questions of all the people that voted for you.  This is not the kind of problem that committees will resolve. You'll have to get your fingernails dirty, piss off important people. Leaders make difficult decisions, not avoid them. I'm pretty sure you're not the guy that will address this problem, Carlos.

  3. Bob Ashpole, March 20, 2019 at 1:55 a.m.

    I don't think it matters by how many goals a team loses by as much as how the team plays. Teams don't get points for losing small.

    The number of goals scored is some indication of how well a team played, but only some. 

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