The Halfway Point: Revamped forward line full of surprises for RSL

USA TODAY Sports

After playing 17 of our 34 games, we're continuing our look at the squad. With RSL Soapbox writers Kreg Asay, Charles Barnard, Chad Loveland and myself, we've rated and graded our forwards through the halfway point of the season.

Alvaro Saborio

Matt: 6.5. It's difficult to rate our best striker particularly highly when he's played in fewer than half of our matches this season — it's not that he lacks quality, but that we need him playing more. Injuries have hurt him, but so, too, have international absences. As they are now.

Chad: B. I know this seems harsh for someone tied for the team lead in goals but he has missed a lot of time and something seems a little off for him at times. I expect that to change in the second half and improve his grade, this certainly doesn't reflect his quality but merely what he has done vs what he should be doing.

Charles: B. Sabo is having another solid season. His 4 goals is tied for the team lead. He has been slowed down by injuries this season. The team scores a goal every 81.88 minutes when he is on the field which is the worst among all forwards on the team.

Kreg: 7. Was off to a great start before the injury, let's hope he picks up where he left off.

Robbie Findley

Matt: 6.5. Robbie Findley has also suffered from injuries, and that's hurt his game substantially. He's growing back into a solid role, and it's clear he's a more mature player than when he left. He can do better, but until then, it's hard to be upset with the tactical variation he allows.

Chad: B+. I know this seems unfair to outrank Sabo but Findley has had a huge affect on how teams play us. It is not a mere coincidence that our goal scoring is sooo much higher with Robbie on the pitch teams have to stretch out more because if given space Robbie will burn every single defender we've already played this year.

Charles: B. Findley had a horrible start to the season but has been playing much better of late. He quietly has 4 goals and 2 assists on the season. Over the last five matches the team has scored a goal every 36.5 minutes when he has been on the field.

Kreg: 7. Started slow, but seems to be getting back in form. At any rate, he's causing opposing defenses to reconsider their positioning.

Joao Plata

Matt: 7. When Plata came to our side, I wondered what exactly it was he would bring — I mean, there's the speed thing and all that. I still wonder that at times, but less his lack of finishing grace, Plata's been a drop-in piece into the system. Now that he's reaching fitness, I expect he'll start scoring. Is that so much to ask?

Chad: D. I know this grade will be way lower than everyone else and for his play alone I'd probably say like a B but I consider the time he is taking that Garcia or Sandoval could be playing with my grade. For me, I would rather those 2 be getting his minutes. On his assists those are grade A assists but that's it. I feel like he walks too much, and he doesn't bring enough to the table for my taste. I will say that he has definetely gotten more stought since he was on TFC. I hope to be able to grade him higher by the end of the year but for fitness and effect I'd give an F, sorry.

Charles: B+. Plata has been a great playmaker for the team from the forward position. His 4 assists is second on the team. He does need to improve on his scoring rate as he is only scoring on 3% of the shots that he has taken.

Kreg: 8. Astounding work rate! Hope he's around for years to come.

Olmes Garcia

Matt: 8. Who is this kid? My word. He's incredibly fast, very skillful, and one of the hardest workers on the team. Olmes Garcia has been a game-changing character, and he's scored already some vital, vital goals.

Chad: B. I expect him to work up to an A by the end of the season. Is there anyone who has anything bad to say about this kid? I really wish he was getting starter or near starter minutes. The sky is seriously the limit. A million thanks to Garth for signing him for 5 years!

Charles: A. Garcia has been the surprise of the year for the team. He has 4 goals and 1 assist in only 424 minutes of play. 25% of his shots have hit the back of the net. And his overall work rate is just incredible.

Kreg: 8. He may not be starting material yet, but subbing him in has proven to take the game in a new and usually better direction!

Devon Sandoval

Matt: 7.5. Expectations are a funny thing. I didn't expect the young Devon Sandoval to come in and shake things up. Hell, I didn't expect him to play. That's the thing, though — he has. And he's done pretty well. He's got a lot to learn yet, but if he continues at the rate he's going, we'll have an incredible striker on our hands.

Chad: B. I can't rate someone lower than a B when they out-fitness everyone on the team, tie a team record in the US Open Cup, and generally do better than anyone could really expect. He might not have the best goal rate himself on the team but I feel like his work ethic and size causes enough problems that teams have to leave space for others. That is why when he is on the pitch the goals come in buckets. His own goals will come eventually.

Charles: A. Sandoval has been another surprise for the team. RSL scores a goal every 43.83 minutes that he is on the field. This is the by far the best on the team. His three goals in US Open Cup play has also been very important for the team. He does need to improve on his finishing.

Kreg: 7. No worries about Sabo being out for the Gold Cup with big Dev on the field!

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