Right now RSL staff, coaches, players and fans have to wonder what they have done to anger the soccer gods? First they have had to deal with some nagging injuries since the start of the season and instead of getting players back it seems RSL continues to lose players each week. This should have been a great day at Rio Tinto, fans where showing up (a bit late due to the 2pm start) the team was playing well, as was Chivas USA and then things got a bit chippy as Andrew Boyens was shown two yellow cards in the first 25 minutes and sent off. It has been a fairly even match to that point and even being a man down Chivas was in panic mode, but then in the 38th minute everything would change.
Javier Morales can make the best defenders and midfielders in MLS look bad at times when he is on his game, well he got behind the Chivas defense and was heading towards goal when a hard two footed tackle from behind brought him down just outside the area. You could tell the instant it happened that something had gone very wrong, and in a scene that has happened too often this year in MLS a top player was injured. I don't find myself wanting to see the play or the pictures of his foot facing the wrong way, it is clear that there is a break and also some other severe damage. All we can do is wish Javi the best and hope that he is able to recover fully from this injury but I don't expect that we will see him until very late in the season if at all.
RSL head coach Jason Kreis, said the following in his press conference after the match:
"To be honest, I didn't think it was the most flagrant of fouls. It was from behind, which we're trying to get out of the game. It's in the attacking third and Javi was clearly getting ready to shoot. I understand the urgency of the situation from the defender trying to make the play and I really don't think it was that egregious."
I think he is right, I don't believe that injuring a player was what Marcos Mondaini had in mind but it was clear earlier in the match that he is a very physical player, his shove in the back on Robbie Russell who protecting a ball headed out of bounds should have been called and in my belief should have been a card as it was just a stupid foul to make. Would a call there or even a card had forced Marcos to think before making the other reckless play? Too hard to say.
more after the jump:
RSL played out the first half after bringing in Andy Williams who has had a very rough week himself, but clearly the team was impacted by the events that saw one of their friends and teammates leave the pitch on a stretcher. If you look at the numbers from the first half RSL had started to establish their dominance in the match: RSL lead 7-3 in shots, 3-1 in shots on goal, 3-1 in corner kicks, but had been called offsides 5 times to just one for Chivas.
The second half was always going to be about Chivas playing with their remaining men behind the ball and almost the entire second half was played in the Chivas half of the pitch. One thing became very clear that Paul Ward didn't want to make any further impact on the match, in the first half he whistled 13 fouls between the two teams and in the second half he only called 2. There were a couple of clear fouls that were committed by Chivas in the second half that he simply looked the other way on, including the constant time wasting by Dan Kennedy which should have drawn a card. There also was a fairly clear handball in the area and a couple of fouls inside the box that simply were not called.
I think someone has to remind the officials that there are no makeup calls, that a foul with 22 men on the pitch is a foul if there are only 20 on the pitch as well. I get not wanting to make an impact on the final result, but not calling things isn't the way to run a match either.
In the 88th minute after 7 shots, 7 offsides calls RSL was finally able to find the back of the net and it wasn't a pretty shot from distance or even from within the area, no RSL seemed unable to do much with those, it was the workman Will Johnson who ran onto a loose ball in the area and poked it into the back of the goal to give RSL the 1-0 lead that would hold up to the end. Heck Chivas didn't even try to take a shot in the second half of the match.
I will say that something has to give, now with the loss of Javier Morales it will be more important that our guys step up. There can be no more misses on open goals, there can be no more tentative nature the the play, our guys have to realize that there is no such thing as mistake free soccer, take some chances, because without risk there will be no reward.
I don't expect that this will be a fun week for the RSL family, there are a lot of things that will be weighing heavily on the minds of the staff, coaches, and players but it is times like this where pulling together and being there for each other will be more important than ever. As fans we need to send our well wishes, our best thoughts and prayers to the Williams and Morales families.
OFF MY SOAPBOX