OK, if you thought the issues RSL had at home the last couple matches were a handful for the guys, their trip to Columbus has been anything but calm heading into match time. Their flight to Cincinnati was followed by a 2 hour bus trip (better than the wait for a connecting flight) to Columbus, but that was a cakewalk compared to yesterday. After a light practice the team headed back to their hotel, normal type stuff, but the line of severe thunderstorms that ravaged central Ohio leaving hundreds of thousands without power wasn't normal and the teams hotel lost power which forced the team to endure a long night with not lights, TV, AC or any of the other things we take for granted. Even today the team was forced to a local mall with power to find refugee from the heat and humidity of Columbus as their hotel along with the stadium was without power.
Match time was pushed back an hour to allow for power to be restored at the stadium but even with that there were some adjustments made at Crew Stadium due to the unstable power situation as tens of thousands still deal with no power. So it might be a bit of relief for both teams to actually get to the match and be able to do something as normal as playing a match.
Here is the RSL starting lineup:
I will be posting updates during the match, you can follow along after the jump, oh and don't forget to add your comments and thoughts as well.
It is going to be very interesting to see how RSL respond to a night of restless sleep at best, no sleep at worst, can they put circumstances behind them, as well as the mistakes of last week to get a result on the road? It is going to be an even tougher test given all that the last 36 hours have dished up for them.
So I know it takes time for new players to adjust, but I keep expecting a bit more when it comes to passing and possession from Jonny Steele, we know he is tough, we know he can score but as a team that controls matches via passing and possession, I still am waiting to see the best from Steele.
RSL looks to be trying to settle in as the Crew have the better of early possession, but RSL are doing what they should do early on the road, looking for quality passes and to establish some passes of their own, a good move forward as a unit, now they try to get the Crew to open up a bit but a turnover in the midfield as the Crew are doing a nice job of pressuring the ball. Early on Tanaka is looking good and keeping his position well, a tough turnover in the midfield but the Crew are unable to do much with it and RSL take possession back.
A bit of a run by Renteria, but he is unable to keep the ball and he gives it up to RSL and they move it to the midfield where there is a lot of traffic and eventually the ball goes back over to the Crew. I do like that RSL is able to use their backs to get forward and create some space for the rest of the team but it really is a crowded midfield is slowing down anything too exciting for either team. I am liking what I am seeing early from Saborio who is very active early on in this one.
Well early in the match it has been fairly even, better chances for Columbus but better possession for RSL as we are 0-0 still as we hit the 15 minute mark.
I do like that the official seems to be letting the teams play. Wow, just like that a solid run by the Crew and poor marking by RSL and it is 1-0 for the Crew as too many guys react to the ball and leave Tony Tchani open who simply puts it past Rimando in the 17th minutes. More mistakes and RSL is forced to pay for them and now must dig themselves out of a hole, Upside for RSL is that of the 7 times they have given up the first goal, they have come back and got two wins and one draw, so now the question is can RSL come back?
Well for the 3rd time in two weeks it is gut check time for RSL as they will now have to deal with the fairly solid defense of the Crew, who will likely look to slow things down and defend even more than their normal style. Can we find something special from Javier Morales or Fabian Espindola?
The goal has served as a real boost of momentum for the Crew who since the goal have been better than they were at the start of the match and look more dangerous on both sides of the ball. I am left wondering who for RSL is going to step up and be that leader on the pitch that the team needs right now, we have Javi being beaten down every time he touches the ball but at least he is touching the ball. Fabi goes down a bit easy, and stays down as the match continues, going to need Fabi to stay focused and calm.
Well 30 minutes into this one and the Crew are holding on to their 1-0 lead as the match is starting to get a little bit chippy on both sides of the ball, RSL is looking a bit more dangerous as they are getting some chances in the Crew final third of the pitch but right now. Still RSL is without a shot on goal so far but I do like the way they looked the last 5 minutes.
Wow, Real Salt Lake dodge a bullet as a ball rolls thru the RSL area without anyone from either side touching it until it gets to Tanaka who clears it out and now RSL is back in possession with a throw in deep in their own end, they get it to the midfield and then another foul, hey this one got called. RSL give the ball right back, I have to give the Crew credit they are doing a nice job of pressuring the ball in the midfield as they are keeping numbers back and looking to counter attack with longer balls against RSL. A big save by Rimando as Renteria fires a shot from distance, now the Crew will take the corner.
Nick is there to pull the ball in, he gets it out quickly to Steele and RSL are now in the Crew final third, and a yellow card to Vukovic for a foul on Espindola. Well Sabo puts a ball on frame but the save is made and the Crew are back on the move. It has been better from RSL but the Crew are simply putting men behind the ball and it is going to be hard for RSL to crack their defense. A good ball into the area but Sabo unable to get to it and it goes back over the Crew. I like that the passing is getting much better for RSL, something we will need as the Crew defend with numbers, another ball into the area from Fabi, but Sabo unable to get to it before Gruenebaum, who has been very solid so far.
The Crew get into the RSL final third, and RSL clears it out for a Crew corner kick and RSL fails to clear the ball and it finds its way to Eddie Gaven who puts it off the crossbar and into the back of the net as 3 RSL players fail to get a touch on the ball, it is now 2-0 as the halftime whistle blows.
RSL is now left with a huge task as the Crew have given up less than a goal per match at home. I have to believe we might see a couple of changes at halftime as RSL will need a real spark on both sides of the ball if they are going to try to snap what could be a 3 match losing streak heading into Wednesday.
You have to wonder how much the rough night and day without electricity and the ability to relax and prepare for the match have played into the match for RSL, who look just a bit off on both sides of the ball.
Well this is going to be interesting to see what will happen and if RSL can show the heart and passion that has helped them get back into matches on the road earlier this year? Going to be tough as I expect more defend and counter by the Crew.
OK they are back in action, RSL with some possession to kick off the second half, I do like that Tanaka gets forward and delivers some quality balls and then follows up in support, but it comes to nothing as the Crew defense take the ball back and now are playing some keep-away from RSL. RSL is putting a bit more pressure on the ball in the midfield, but the Crew now have had two decent runs at the RSL back line but nothing dangerous has come from either of them as RSL look to try to build something going forward.
I have to believe that some changes for the RSL midfield have to be coming soon as RSL simply aren't clicking well enough to come back from their 2 goal deficit. It is the Crew who make the first move as Milovan Mirosevic comes on for Aaron Schoenfeld. RSL dodge a bullet as a potential handball (not intentional) isn't called against Beltran.
A bit of a run by Javier Morales but his pass goes out for a goal kick as Fabi is on a different page of the playbook and can't get to the ball. A lot of guys for RSL simply look a bit gassed tonight, that could be the heat and humidity at work combined with the trying to recover from a rough night.
A nice run by Fabi who plays give and take with Sabo but the Crew defense breaks up Fabi's run and in frustration Fabi goes down and tries to get a call from an official who isn't calling a whole lot tonight, and now Fabi gets a yellow card for talking crap to the official. I have a bad feeling that we might not be done seeing cards for Fabi tonight unless Jason gets him off the pitch as the frustration is getting worse. It is Emiliano coming on for Fabi, a move that I think he had to make, and it gives the rookie a chance to shine if he can help get the team back in the match.
Well RSL follows up with another quick change as Paulo Jr. comes on for Fabi, as Emiliano came on for Saborio, so two changes to the offense for RSL, giving both our forwards a chance to rest up a bit for two more matches in the next 7 days. I still think we need a change in the midfield to create more offense, because it is looking like the Crew might not be done scoring.
Well with less than 30 minutes left, this is simply going the wrong way for RSL as the frustration levels are going up and RSL is giving up free kick after free kick as the Crew simply feel things are going their way and taking advantage of it. The changes up top for RSL haven't paid off early as the possession simply hasn't been there to get them involved in the match, it is some ugly play from the RSL defense and midfield tonight. Unlike the past two matches where RSL has failed to capitalize on their chances, tonight RSL is getting out played, despite having more of the possession.
Real Salt Lake makes their final change of the night as Luis Gil is on and Tanaka is off, that will push Will Johnson to the backline as Gil fills into the midfield, with just 15 minutes left will it make a difference?
At this point of the match, I would be happy if RSL could simply get a goal to get back into the match, show some signs of life. Maybe RSL can do something off this corner kick but with big targets gone, playing it straight into the area probably wasn't the best play to make. Still it bounces around a bit, but RSL can't pounce on it and Andy G. picks it up and plays it out, but it goes right back to RSL as they now look to try to find a way past the solid Crew defensive wall that has been put up.
Javier gets taken down in the midfield and finally a yellow card for what has to be the 7th or 8th foul against Morales tonight. It simply looks too lackluster from RSL tonight, and while it would be easy to point to the conditions but I think that is too easy, I have no doubt they played a role but hard to think it is the only thing as RSL hasn't looked right but once in their last 5 matches.
So I thought that Jason might make some big lineup changes tonight, give some younger guys a chance to show something, but that didn't happen, so now I am left with the question mark about Wednesday against Seattle, who also have been struggling. Do we continue to put out the lineup that is clearly struggling, or do we put out some guys who would love a chance to try and show what they might be able to do? It will clearly help to have Kyle Beckerman back, maybe Ned Grabavoy and/or Jamison Olave, but I think the issues are more than just a player or two missing from the team. The mistakes we have seen have been mental mistakes and to me a lack of focus on what made RSL successful, the team defensive effort, where everyone plays defense first.
This one is a wrap as RSL fall 2-0 at Columbus and for the first time in 5 years have lost 3 MLS matches in a row.
OFF MY SOAPBOX