You know it is kinda funny how each of the last few years we have seen fans and some in the media get into a panic at some point about how a striker isn't scoring the way someone expects them to. So of course in typical fashion we believe there must be something wrong with them. 1 every 194 minutes, 1 every 169 minutes, and even 1 every 149 minutes, those are the paces at which some of the top goal scorers in MLS history have had, the very best Jaime Moreno scored just a goal every two plus matches. He had a year where he scored just 7 goals in 2279 minutes, or 1 goal every 326 minutes or 1 every 3.6 matches. Last year Alvaro Saborio scored a goal every 166 minutes he played, and despite playing just 423 minutes so far this year and not having scored a goal in league play, some people are already starting to toss him under the bus and looking for the next new thing.
It is funny because every coach out there will tell you that strikers are streaky by nature, heck Sabo was streaky last year. The guy was on fire at Rio Tinto and most often ice cold when we were on the road. We have seen this before, the striker going through a cold streak. We saw it with Yura Movsisyan, we saw it with Robbie Findley, oh my how we saw it with Kenny Deuchar , and we have seen it with Fabian Espindola. I think Jason hit it on the head when he said that he doesn't worry about it as long as the player is putting in the work, the goals will come. Not bad from the first player to ever hit the 100 goal mark in MLS, I think I will stick with his opinions and thoughts on this topic.
my thoughts after the jump:
I do think there are a couple of other points we can talk about when it comes to strikers, first the options that RSL has, we know about Sabo, Fabi, and even a bit about Paulo Jr. and Arturo Alvarez, but we know less about what might happen in June and July when Sabo will likely be with the Costa Rican National team and Arturo will be with the El Salvador National team. We has seen with Paulo Jr. some great potential but with him still in recovery mode from a hamstring injury, the team isn't pushing him too hard since they know they will need him this summer, but can he carry the weight of being the primary go to guy for a team? That is a question that only time will tell, and people will say but he has done so well with limited minutes, and he has, but so did Pablo Campos. Now I believe that Paulo Jr. will be a game changer for RSL and a top player in MLS by the end of the season, but that is a lot of pressure to put on him.
Then we have Fabian Espindola, who has in my opinion been one of the hardest working players on the team this year, but the goals just haven't come the way they did back in 2008. I know he has a slight injury that they are working on with him, but I really can't wait for him to get a couple goals, because I think just like with Sabo once he gets a few he will be on fire. His energy and work rate this year has really impressed me on both sides of the ball, and I have little doubt that as long as he keeps it up he will be able to reap the rewards of so much hard work.
On Saturday a lot of people were a bit shocked when RSL replaced Arturo Alvarez in the 74th minute with Jean Alexandre, who they are more used to seeing in that defensive mid field role. What most people don't know is that Jean actually played a more offensive role in college, often being used as a forward. In fact he had 34 goals (10 game winners) in 69 matches in college and if you have ever seen him take shots in matches or at practice you know that he has one of the hardest shots on the team. I think given the style the Dynamo were playing that having a tall, strong and physical player in the match was a smart move as their defense had really pushed RSL into having to play long ball and trying to cross the ball into the area (a technique that RSL isn't the greatest at in the run of play). Jean showed some good positioning and if you happened to catch him display some very nice footwork to get a cross blocked out for a corner kick, you know he has some good skills on the ball.
There is also the returning Nelson Gonzalez who isn't a natural forward but more of an offensive minded midfield player, but who I think could if the conditions were right and the opponent playing a more open style, step in and be a threat as a forward. I do think one thing that has limited his minutes in the past is the fact that he sometimes chases the ball too much as opposed to playing his position, I saw a bit of that during the Houston reserve match but he was very effective in doing that until he was shown a red card for Serious Foul.
There are a couple other players who might have missed your radar unless you are paying close attention, first is Conor Chin. He was picked up after being let go by the New York Red Bulls, much to the dismay of some of their fans. He is a young forward with some good speed and decent size, I know that the RSL staff have been working with him to get him used to our style of play and to help his overall development. He was a draft pick in 2010 and RSL usually believes it takes a couple years for young players to adjust to MLS, so we may not see him in many first team matches this year, but with call ups and injuries you just never know.
The other is Cody Arnoux, who joined MLS in February and despite having just a 5.4% chance of getting his rights in a MLS weighted lottery was allocated to Real Salt Lake. Cody has been recovering from surgery and has just recently returned to training with the team, he played his college soccer at Wake Forest, then tried his luck in Europe and spent a year with the reserve team of Everton. He returned to play some matches for the Vancouver Whitecaps last year and had one goal in 504 minutes of action. Once he is able to return to full fitness he should be a welcomed addition to the RSL corp of forwards.
In the end I simply will remind people that last year RSL scored 45 goals and 22 of them were scored by someone other than a forward, and when it comes to RSL I always will believe and hold on for the best. If at the start of the year someone had told you that despite having to play 6 Champions League matches that RSL would be 5-1-1 after 7 matches that I am going to bet that almost all of you would have been very happy.
OFF MY SOAPBOX