"they're going to have to regain my respect..."
My friend and I moved from Idaho down to Utah in January, and I convinced him to become a season ticket holder. He payed attention during preseason, but not as avidly as me. This chap, has yet to see RSL win. This was his response to tonight's performance.
"Ok, they're going to have to regain my respect... I've never seen them win, and only seen them tie twice. And they are doing especially bad tonight. More than I expected being a few key players out"
Here are some thoughts based off of this response by my friend, hear me out, but I'm going to be starting with the bad.
RSL this year has had a rough start.
Sabo is the only one to have found the back of the net. We have some great strikers out there, creative and good, but none of them are putting the ball even on frame. Findley has been very passive, tonight he had a glaring chance where he was left undefended as he approached the box, and 9/10 strikers would have put the ball on frame. There was someone running parallel, but he was covered by 3 men, instead of taking the shot and having 2 people there to get the rebound, he attempted a difficult cross, and it failed. I love that Findley isn't selfish, but man, I want him to shoot the ball. He used to be RSL's top scorer, so we know he can finish, did is time in Europe make him this passive, or was he always this passive? Joao seems to be most effective when he can use his high energy style of play without having to save energy for the next half.
Our back line has felt so dysfunctional. Error after error, All of the goals we conceded weren't due to the team collapsing, but an individual. Defense is so difficult to play because even if you have a remarkable game, if you mess up once, you could lose the game for your team, whereas as a forward you could have a horrible game, but if you make one big play, you've just saved your team from utter destruction. Individually, there have been mistakes that could've been avoided, and it is rough to watch it happen.
Our midfield is having having a hard time holding onto the ball. They either seem too excited to send the ball forward, or become too headstrong in thinking they can take on multiple challenges. Our midfield needs to take command of the ball, and play possession, and wait for the right moment to send it forward, there's no use passing it to the forwards if they're just going to have the whole defensive line collapse on them without anyone to back them up.
Nick Rimando. Need I say more? I'm glad we had Saunders, this game could've been a whole lot worse without him. He came up big, and made some HUGE saves, but I'd like to think that Nick would've been able to stop both of those goals, especially the bad reaction from the bad pass from Palmer by Saunders. I can't blame Saunders completely for that incident, but I'd like to think Nick would've cleared it.
Our injured players are coming back. Just look at the value of having Nat Borchers back on the pitch. Nat's experiences saved us from a goal that could've easily happened. And he made some great defensive plays as well. Morales should be coming soon, he's starting practice, and Wingert's foot is almost completely healed, and can start getting ready again. These players still need some time, I understand, but look at the difference Nat made in this one game, and I dare you to tell me that Wingert and especially Morales won't make that big of a difference either.
Saborio still can find the net. He hasn't lost the fire of last season, and the games we have him around for are amazing. He's our finisher, but I wish more people would do the same. I'm excited to see how Javi will team up with Findley and Plata, but Sabo is here now, and is punishing our opponents.
All in All
Jason has told us repeatedly that our youngsters are doing well in training. Our team has a lot of individuals who can shine in their own situations, and I feel comfortable with all of our backup players, but I see them right now as backups. They didn't step up in the game that was their chance to shine. I saw a lot of good things out there, but I see our backups as our future, not our present. I cannot wait to see how this season turns out, but it has been a frustrating beginning.
To my friend I have to say, have hope. RSL can still pull through. Last year at this time we were dominating, and we ended up having a rough summer. I see the opposite happening. We're in a rough patch, but the MLS season is 9 months long. I feel it is more important to have a strong summer and fall than a strong spring. I can promise you that our team WILL meet your expectations, and we'll start finding our groove.
So, I leave off there, hopeful, but dreadfully aware that our team hasn't played to the full potential that we expect them to as RSL elites. Here's to a quick recovery, and some good training sessions to get our backups up to their full potential.