Can a New Manager make Sky Blue Eternal or Falling?
Christy Holly left his managerial duties for Sky Blue FC in August this year. It was a mutual agreement. Someone had to do the pushing or pulling in Holly’s departure.
By pushing or pulling for victories and draws, New Jersey could excite you their counterattacking and baffle you with their ball watching defense. Holly, a former assistant to Jim Gabarra, couldn’t implement his philosophy without an easy goal being scored.
The May 27th match against Orlando was a 2-1 victory for Sky Blue. Their defensive mental lapse occurred in the box by Marta’s pass to Camila Martins Pereira who assisted on a Jasmyne Spenser goal.
Sky Blue attacked the left side when the offense wasn't generated by route one soccer. A tidy series of through balls would move Sky Blue into the attacking third. The main option against the Pride was to pressure Orlando in the middle for a counterattack.
The pressure worked. A Daphne Corboz dispossession and pass led to a Samantha Kerr goal on the left side. The Pride strategy of high tempo possession was disrupted by Sky Blue’s high press to Orlando’s defenders in the 2nd half.
Orlando had most of the possession throughout the match. Their possession was bothered by 24 tackles won by Sky Blue. New Jersey had two fewer fouls than the Pride; showing their rare structured play when defending.
Orlando’s attacks were absorbed and translated into a direct ball from the goalkeeper, a pass from Kerr and a Maya Hayes goal to win the game.
Sam Kerr has now replaced Natasha Kai as the face of Sky Blue FC. Kerr started six games and scored five goals in 2016. She kept that pace with 17 goals in 21 games this season.
Samantha wasn’t a target against Orlando. Kerr was played as a winger to facilitate the offense for Maya Hayes. Kerr is a complete player and Hayes has the talent of using her pace and strength to score goals.
Former manager Christy Holly played a 4-3-3 against Chicago on July 15th. Kerr played up top. The idea was for Kerr and Hayes to form a connection. The Red Stars high-pressure defense disturbed Sky Blue’s plan.
Chicago got a goal in the 4th minute by a Christen Press dispossession and Sofia Huerta strike. The Red Star’s high line wouldn’t let Sky Blue maintain possession long enough to move into the attacking third.
Sky Blue tied the game off of a rare play on the left side, their preferred side of the field to produce. A 32nd minute right cross found Maya Hayes’ foot for a goal. Hayes needs to convert more of her easy chances into goals. She’s good with some glimpse of the greatness that needs to be consistent.
The Sky Blue backline had another mental lapse. Casey Short passed from the left side to Vanessa DiBernardo. DiBernardo passed a forward volley to Press who strolled through the defenders for a goal in the 26th minute.
Sky Blue had most of the possession, 56.2% in this game. They couldn’t get opportunities off those possessions. Kelley O’Hara and Nikki Stanton move up to form a 3-3-4 to salvage a point adding to 26 crosses for New Jersey.
Sarah Killion moved from midfield to center back to make accurate passes into the attack. Her precession led to a one-time header by Kerr for the game-tying goal in the 90th minute.
The most pressing question this offseason is who will be the next manager? Defense is a clear area that needs fixing quickly. Will a person who is defensive minded lead Sky Blue FC?
The youngsters like goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, defenders Kayla Mills, and Mandy Freedman have experience now. Their youth can’t be an excuse next year. Sky Blue was third in the league in goals scored with a minus-nine goal differential in 2017.
An attacking midfielder would free up Samantha Kerr to be an outright goal scorer. Killion was supposed to be that number 10. Her lack of touch to orchestrate a faster attack dawdle the pace.
The new manager must notice a counterattacking philosophy is more successful for Sky Blue to be a top four threat. Christy Holly attempted to use possession to build an offense. Better teams wouldn’t allow him.
By having a wider open game; Sky Blue can stay at their attacking end, They can create set pieces chances, and more importantly not let the defense work as often.
The hiring of the next manager will be Sky Blue biggest signing. Will the new boss have the sun shining for Sky Blue or have them falling in the standings next season with the details of rebuilding?