I'm not sure if anyone else here watched last night's game betweeen Herediano and Tauro but it was pretty entertaining. In a lot of ways I thought that Tauro got the raw end of the deal and the ref seemed pretty biased toward the home side. The PK was pretty weak and inaccurate, the player used his shoulder to play the ball not his bicep therefore there shouldn't have been a call made.
I'll get into more of the specifics after the jump.
Let me just say that I don't think Herediano is a better team than Tauro. At least based on watching last nights game. Herediano did what I'll expect them to do at the RioT settled, only reacted to what was before them and faked injuries nonstop. Herediano did not really have any push after the refs gifted them a PK. Tauro really dictated the game and Herediano seemed content with not having the ball and basically made no attempts to push the tempo or try and get numbers forward for scoring. It wasn't until Tauro scored that they finally tried to mount an attack.
Their attack tactic is extremely simple and can be summed up in one word. DIVE!
Herediano is the best diving team in the world I don't care what people say about China's.
Both goals came off set pieces and the second one came straight from a dive.
I wish I could say that we don't have to worry about the game coming up but we do. The CONCACAF refs are anything but consistent. Here are my keys to RSL advancing:
- Limit set pieces near the goal
- Keep an even keel
- Plan for diving and lots of it, avoid chances to have a ref make a decision
- Make runs with multiple people
- Send in low crosses instead of high arcing crosses
Limit set pieces near the goal. RSL has generally done pretty well at this. If you take out the SJ games I would guess we are in the top half of the league at defending on set pieces. Anyone can tell we have a monster in goal who almost always makes the right choice. We should have a huge size advantage that would help in case we give away set pieces but Herediano seems to butter their bread with set pieces. I know the goal they scored against us was not from a set piece but the chances of them getting a similar goal (Beckerman fell down because of their poor over watered pitch) are so small I wouldn't even worry about it. RSL is #1 in fewest long range goals in the entire MLS this year so If all of Herediano's shots are long range blasts (which they will take every time) we will be in a good position.
Keep an even keel. This is something we have struggled with in general and Herediano is a dirty team. Without a doubt they should have been given at least one red card. I don't remember the name but one of their players kicked a Tauro guy in the chest. He has the boot marks to prove it and the ref didn't even call a foul. So yeah, we can expect the same kind of treatment. Also Herediano had a guy obviously take a huge dive and stay down for at least a full minute on the ground despite the fact that no one touched him and Tauro played the ball out of bounds so he could get treatment and then they did give the ball back on the thrown in but pressed immediately.
Plan for diving and lots of it, avoid chances to have the ref make a decision. Herediano is not a classy team. They will dive, play dirty and out and out cheat to try and win. The players react like a great injustice has occurred when ever they are called for anything. What roundhouse kicks to the head are against the rules? I exaggerate but only barely. Herediano is the exact opposite on the other end. Brushing up against their jersey is cause to act like you've been run over by a tank. We can not play hands on defense because Herediano will prefer to dive and try to get cheap fouls to actually playing soccer and winning in a proper manner. They will dive even if they are better off just playing through contact. IT WILL HAPPEN, but if we are prepared we will just laugh it off. I would suggest our captain should have a little discussion with the officials about it at some point during the game to alert their attention to that fact. We've all seen how rare the circumstances are when the ref give RSL the benefit of the doubt and knowing that the team we will be playing will make a meal out of every contact let's plan ahead and not allow them the chance to change the game.
Make runs with multiple people. Herediano is not a very solid defensive team in nearly every regard except one. They are exceptional at cutting out long passes. But they space out too much and were getting absolutely killed by Tauro on short passes. If we move the ball through little, tight, quick triangle passes we will eat Herediano alive. Passes that are over 7 yards they are really good at winning the ball. Herediano gets spaced out super easily if they are confronted with multiple runners. It is obvious from watching the way they play that they are used to only defender 1 maybe 2 strikers and are not equiped to deal with midfielders joining in the attack or outside backs running up the flanks. If we can bring at least 4 people in the box area with all shots we should be able to put at least 3 goals in the game. Their keeper doesn't position himself well and their man marking leaves a lot to be desired.
Send in low crosses instead of high arcing crosses. Herediano did not deal well with crosses close to the ground. The goal Tauro scored came from sending the ball through the box hard and fast over and over and over. Anything that hung in the air for a while Herediano was able to cut out and defend well. I would say at just below an elite level. The faster the ball gets to its intended target the harder it make Herediano to stop it.
In summary if RSL were to follow my keys to advancing we can look forward to early spring CONCACAF games again. I obviously don't really respect Herediano, but I don't respect anyone who plays the style of trying to cheat to win no matter how much talent they have or how good they are at it *cough Real Madrid *cough. I can't wait we are less than a month away from without a doubt the biggest match RSL will host all year (yes that would include the chance that we host the MLS Final) it really is that big. Let's pray we can get a 3-0 win.