Training notes: RSL prepping for difficult final, attacking players in form

Steve Dykes

With a rather important match looming, today's training session saw the focus on game-like situations. Small-sided play dominated the proceedings. I share some thoughts on some players and what we can learn from training.

Joao Plata's finishing is still a bit poor at times, but the number of times he burst past defenders to win the ball, or held up the ball in difficult positions, or finished with a cheeky moment (one little chip over Lalo Fernandez comes to mind) is encouraging. If the youngster (and he's still quite young, remember) picks up his finishing, he'll be an incredible player and not merely a very good one.

Robbie Findley was in fine form in training, and he had some spectacular finishes throughout -- he's the sort of player we need for this playoff run. Who among us thought that would be the case in June? I defended him, as I always thought he was better than he was being given credit for, but I didn't quite expect he'd hit such a high peak right now.

Devon Sandoval didn't train, as he is suffering from a slight injury. Jason Kreis told reporters that he's expected to train on Wednesday. I don't suspect he's pegged for a starting spot at current, with Saborio involved fully through the session and looking good.

Cole Grossman has grown in stature (not literal but metaphorical) since his first game for the club. His improvement is palpable, which is surprising in part because he missed huge swathes of the season through concussion. He's exactly the sort of player that fits our system, and it's really coming to light why Garth Lagerwey and Jason Kreis were so keen on picking him during the 2012 waiver draft.

Chris Wingert was also heavily involved in training, and there didn't seem to be hesitation from him. If he is ready to start, it will be to our benefit, but if he can't, Lovel Palmer has looked quite good in training. (Were it not for that early yellow card, he'd surely have gone 90 minutes against Portland.)

Luis Gil's talent is undeniable, and that was again on display. His decision-making is still a hair slow, but he's light years ahead of last year. He's turning into a player capable of real magic, and while he's not there quite yet, he's taken a route slightly different than what others might have expected. Finding consistency first and foremost will lead to him being an influential player even when he's not creating clear-cut chances -- that's an important piece of the puzzle. I'd put him first in line for a January call-up by Klinsmann.

Enzo Martinez seems to be improving, bit by bit. He still has a bit of hesitation to him, but you can see that there's still a good player there. If he stays with us in 2014, though, he'll need to improve to get minutes.

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