Well. At least the weather was nice...
It was not a complete performance from us. The first half an hour was amazing; we did everything but get a goal. And then it fell apart. We stopped linking our passes together, and our attack went from a roar to a wimper. The same thing happened in the Monterrey game - really early pressure and lots of attack, but when we went unrewarded our performance was flat. There was a stretch in the second half that was despicable. Our main problem was players weren't checking to the ball and showing for it, specifically in the midfield. A player would have the ball in defense, and our midfielders would stand there, waiting for something to happen, instead of running to receive the ball like they did in the beginning. Based on the second half alone, we did not deserve to go through to the next round.
That said, we were the better team. Even when we were playing badly, they weren't nearly as threatening as we were (although Rimando had to make a few good saves, and they did hit the post, but that was more down to better finishing than we had). We've got to figure out a way to make good performances turn into goals. Overall I don't think this has been a problem for us, but we've still got games like the San Jose game at Rio Tinto that make us shake our heads.
We badly missed Saborio and Grabavoy. In my opinion (and I've love to debate this), they've been two of our three best players this season. It's pretty how obvious how we missed Sabo so I won't talk about that as much, but Grabavoy would have been perfect for this match. An industrious midfielder than can serve as a playmaker... will he be back for the playoffs? Please let him be back for the playoffs.
Yeah, the time-wasting was bad... but. They did what they had to do to get a result here. We can't really blame them for that, agitating as it is. What needs to happen is the refs have to be smarter about it. I'm almost certain that we didn't PLAY a whole 90 minutes today. The ref added on no extra time for the wasting they did in stoppage time. And giving yellow cards out is great, but there are 11 players on their team, and if it's the difference between qualifying or not, they're not gonna care about getting a few yellow cards. Just say, the next time you switch players on the goal kick, give them the red card. As a ref, you have to do what you need to do so that a fair game can happen.
We need another forward next season. This has to do with missing Saborio. We simply can't rely on one forward to score all our goals. Look at San Jose; Wondolowski is the best forward in the league this year and a worthy MVP candidate. But when he's been out of the team, or out of form, San Jose has found ways to score and win game. That's a big difference between us and them. Espindola is very important for our attack but he's not a finisher, and that's what we needed last night.
One-footedness hurt us badly. God gave you two feet for a reason! There were so many times when we got a chance on the left flank to cross or shoot, and we ended up shifting it to our right foot and passing it back, wasting the opportunity. Same thing with Jonny Steele on the right. Chris Wingert needs to work on his left foot.
Nick Rimando - 8
Didn't really have to do much, and what he did have to do he did without fault. One of our best players, unfortunately. Shame he couldn't score on the corner!
Chris Wingert - 6.5
Too one-footed! Did pretty well besides a few wasted chances to cross.
Chris Schuler - 7
Defended well but his distribution from the back was poor. Had a few giveaways that could have cost us dearly.
Nat Borchers - 7.5
Did nothing wrong really. Solid as always in lieu of Olave.
Tony Beltran - 7.5
He made that overlapping run on the right flank all night long, but for some reason we were reluctant to play it to him there, especially in the second half. Gave much more to the attack than Wingert.
Kyle Beckerman - 7
A caller on ESPN 700 mentioned that it seemed like he sat too far back in the second half, and I'd agree with that. Maybe he was trying to protect the defense more, but we needed more offense!
Will Johnson - 7.5
Worked his ass off in the first half and gave us a lot of energy in the midfield. Almost scored on a nice run into the box after Javi fed him. Seemed to fade in the second half, and just as I was yelling at him for only walking back when we were pinned back, he got subbed for being injured. We missed him dearly when he went off.
Luis Gil - 7
Started off very brightly and stayed involved in the game throughout the first half. His influence waned in the second half as our possession lessened. Another very solid performance for the kid.
Javier Morales - 6.5
He was "vintage Javi" (which has pretty much become a cliche this season) for the first half hour and everything went through him. It was awesome to watch. But then... I dunno. He just stopped doing his thing. I don't know if he was tired or what, but he stopped being the Javi of old and completely lost his influence on the match.
Paulo Jr. - 5
I was very impressed with Paulo against Tauro, but he was disappointing today. Bud, you're playing instead of Alvaro Saborio, you've got to at least be able to hold the ball up with your back to goal and get a pass off.
Fabian Espindoal - 5.5
Aaaaaargh. That miss! It seemed like it wouldn't matter at the time, but man. He's just not a finisher. At least not nearly as much as Saborio is. We needed a big performance from him tonight. What he needed to do was just play his game, but for much of the game he seemed to be trying too hard to be Saborio and be a big aerial threat, which he just isn't.
Kenny Mansally - 6
Defended well enough, but didn't give the offensive spark we've seen before.
Jonny Steele - 5.5
He wasn't right for this game at all. C'mon Jason, be risky, bring Viana on.
I think that Viana might have been better suited for this game, but it's hard to fault him. Gave a huge injection of urgency and energy just as we were looking at our most lethargic. Tripped up in a key moment, but he's got so much potential that seeing his influence is really exciting.
Alriught, onwards and upwards, let's get the MLS Cup. Forza RSL.