A lot goes down on the pitch in any given match. Each week, we’ll be talking to one player about one specific play from last week’s match and letting them give an inside view of the play as it developed.
This week, rookie Carter Manley takes a look at a strong defensive play in front of the net from last week’s match against New York Red Bulls. Manley got his first MLS start in the match and had to quickly get up to speed with a brand new backline. Good defense might not be as viscerally compelling as a goal, but it takes a particular mix of spatial awareness, communication, anticipation and action to come together.
Carter Manley: The first thing I’m trying to do is get my shape, so be in line with Brent [Kallman]. We try to position ourselves in between the posts to protect the goal. And then after we’re set in that position, we’re looking for where the danger is. I’m assuming the worst, that Bradley [Wright Phillips] is going to get off the cross. And [Daniel] Royer is on the back shoulder of Brent, so I’m picking him up, I’m staying with him, and I’m not letting him get a touch. Brent is cutting off the space. And if there’s a man coming in, he’s picking him up. And it’s my job to protect anything behind him.
So at that point, the man is getting in behind, the ball is coming in. I need to stay with him and block the shot. I’m more worried about the runner coming on. I’m assuming the ball is coming to him.
I’m definitely trying to be aggressive, but not too overly aggressive. My main priority is blocking the shot, so whatever I need to do to do that. If I need to get a little touch on him, nothing too dangerous, but just blocking the shot is my main priority.
On his first start ...
It was a good experience. It was definitely a lot to take in. Tough game. But I was very comfortable with our backline, because we had been working together for a while. Not just this week, but in the past month, month and a half, into preseason. [Brent]’s been the centerback on my side throughout. So we’re always talking, getting on the same page as each other, trying to build up our chemistry.