I love RSL. I also love Liverpool FC. I love that the 2 clubs are very similar in a variety of ways. Let's take a look at some of the ways that these two teams are similar, as well as what RSL can learn from these similarities.
Both teams have a vision, and that vision is similar. Both have very young managers who have a very blatant take on how their teams need to play the game. Each manager requires their team play beautiful football, keep possession, and make opponents experience an agonizing "death by football." Neither manager changes this strategy dramatically based on who they play. They make the opposition adjust to them.
HOW RSL CAN MIMIC LIVERPOOL FOR SUCCESS
The biggest thing I think RSL can learn from Liverpool's (or Brendan Rodgers') way of implementing this style of football is in the shape they employ. A 4-3-3.
Starting from the back, Liverpool want to have a keeper that is obviously great at stopping shots, but is also comfortable with the ball at their feet (sound familiar?) as to play passes to him and essentially play with an additional passer than the other team has.
Center backs need to be traditionally sound defensively and strong in the air, but also need to be comfortable keeping possession, not afraid to receive back passes and distribute them to open men.
Full backs press very far forward, even getting into the box. Most long balls would ideally come from the full backs as opposed to midfielders or wingers. And they need to have extremely high work rates to push forward and get back quickly when needed.
The midfield is a triangle, typically with 2 in the back and one farther forward. Their job is specific: win the ball back and keep possession. Liverpool have one of the best defensive midfielders in the league in Lucas Leiva, who wins the ball back better than anyone in the league and distributes the ball with extreme efficiency (sound familiar?). The other midfielder in the back plays a bit farther forward and will focus equally on winning the ball and pushing possession forward with short, tidy, passes (Ned). At the point of the midfield you want a player who thrives on the ball, can pass with extreme effiency and will get in the box looking to score (Gil).
The wide forwards are your play makers. Javi would be good in this role, but if he stays, RSL likely stays in its current shape (as Matt Montgomery posted earlier today). These wide players need to be extremely creative as well as fantastic on the ball. It helps if they are fast and they need to have a nose for the back of the net. The system tries to avoid long balls, so these players would create for players making runs into the box, or cut in and take shots. Think Christiano Ronaldo. I think Seb Velasquez would do well in this role, but this would be the biggest area RSL would need to bolster through purchases, which they have already committed to do.
The middle striker relentlessly scores goals and is always looking for the back of the net. Unceasingly. Sabo is perfect here.
with the squad that RSL has, as well as their commitment to bringing in goal scorers, I think this 4-3-3 system would kill MLS opponents if done right and RSL already plays with the right mindset to make it work. RSL would need to learn from Liverpool's mistakes as well. Liverpool doesn't have enough goal scorers. They dominate possession, but fall into a nasty habit of relying on one person to score all their goals which often leads to dropped points and early exits even when they were by far the better team. Sound familar?
They also need to recognize that if one of the 2 more defensive minded midfielders loses possession too far up the pitch, it can lead to crippling counter attacks if that player can't get back fast enough.
I'd love to see RSL try this out. What are your thoughts?