SANDY UT - SEPTEMBER 25: Nat Borchers #6 Kyle Beckerman #5 and Fabian Espindola #7 of Real Salt Lake celebrate a game tying goal against the Colorado Rapids during the second half of an MLS soccer game September 25 2010 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Utah. Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids played to a 1-1 tie. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
OK, there was a lot going on tonight at "El Castillo", it honestly felt like a playoff match with the energy that the 18,000 plus people had. Considering both BYU and the U of Utah had home games today, I was very impressed with the crowd that showed up. I know a lot of people had puzzled looks on their faces when they saw a lineup that looked much more like the roster used in the friendly against the Mexican U21 team earlier this year.
Yet we know that the stretch of 5 matches in 13 days with over 30 hours of travel this week and a rough match in Panama that something had to give. Players have to have some time to recuperate and rest or the likelihood of injuries increases. So we have to consider a few facts, we have a number of players who have played 3 matches in 7 days (Will, Kyle, Nick, Sabo), we know that Robbie Russell is still recovering from the concussion against Toronto, we know that Javier and Paulo Junior both are recovering from injuries.
One of the biggest question marks was the use of Rauwshan McKenzie over the impressive rookie Chris Schuler, for me it comes down to long term decisions that have to be made. David Horst has played very well for the P.R. Islanders this year, if you don't believe me go online and find their matches against the LA Galaxy were he was a vital part in the ousting of LA from the Champions League. So next year we have Borchers and Olave, but we have to make a decision on who else to keep and with 3 guys fighting for a spot you have to give them some chances to show what they can do. I get and I can respect the need to get minutes to both Schuler and McKenzie, for me so far it has been Schuler who looks like the better players.
more after the jump:
I have to admit that as the first 30 minutes of the match went along I really began to like the decision on the lineup, I know how important it will be to have our top guys ready to go when the end of October hits, I also know how important our ability to know that we are truly 18-20 men deep is important. I thought our guys played hard and forced the Rapids to play a very physical style out of the gate which result in some early yellow cards. There were a couple of plays that actually could have seen the official show red, or a second yellow but we all know that sometimes things don't always go the way we expect them to.
I was impressed with the play of Collen Warner, who I think will become a real force over the next couple seasons. I think Jean has all the physical tools to become one of the best defensive mids in the league, but he needs a way to play and learn the finer points of the game. I thought Beltran and Wingert were both very good tonight, as were Andy and Ned. I like the size of Campos, but I think the lack of minutes hurts him more than almost any player on the roster, he is a big physical guy who has a great ability to bring the ball down, he lacks confidence in his left foot and often is thinking faster than he can move and it causes him to lose the ball or his footing.
I thought Fabi played an OK match, he seemed to me to pass when he should have shot and tried to shoot when he had 3 defenders on him and he should have passed. I know many fans are worried about Robbie's recent form, while I am just as worried about Fabi's ability to focus on the match and not get into trouble. We saw it in the CCL match in Panama and we saw it again tonight, I really fear that unless he can start playing in control of himself, that he could hurt the team when we need him most.
Of course I thought there were two guys tonight who set themselves apart as the best players for RSL, Kyle Reynish was very good tonight, and I doubt that any keeper would have kept that Casey header out of the net. Then there was the rock of the back line Nat Borchers, he broke up plays and then after the most bizarre happenings I have seen this year (more on that in a second) pushed forward in attack and in stoppage time put a header past Pickens to give RSL the draw and to keep their home unbeaten streak alive.
So when the official pointed to the spot on what appeared to be a Rapids hand ball in the area, I thought RSL would tie the match and considering the lineup you would have to say that was a good result. Then he had a conversation with his sideline official (who had a better view of the scrum in the area), and I am all in favor of that but you should have that conversation before you call for a PK, and you absolutely should not allow several Colorado players to be part of that conversation. (remember the little things-you know who I am talking to). The call went from a PK to a dropped ball, clearly one of the strangest things and given the header just minutes later by Borchers, you have to wonder what might have been.
OK that is a lot of quick thoughts, I am pleased with the result, and tomorrow I will let you in on a little bit more of the mindset behind the decisions that lead to this lineup, I think many of you will be both surprised with the tactical decision making and understand why it was likely a very smart decision by the RSL staff.
OFF MY SOAPBOX.
Oh and to the Rapids fans who made the trip, cheering "Champions by mistake" to the team that beat you to get into the playoff and keep you out, probably not the smartest chant ever. Also, have you ever won anything, by mistake or on purpose? 16 years and you haven't found a way to match the success of a team in the league just 6 years, I get supporting your team, but trying to justify away our success isn't going to work.
OFF MY SOAPBOX