clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Playoff Report Card for Real Salt Lake

New, 2 comments

Wow so the worst task of the year is looking back at the 4 playoff matches RSL played and having to grade the performances of the players, I mean how horrible could it be when you consider that RSL went 4-0 and put up 2 shutouts.  It is hard to be a harsh judge when you consider the end result is this:

Mlscup2129_medium

But I am going to try to be fair and honest in my scoring

Here is the scale I use for grading:

A=Exceeds Expectations
B=Meets Expectations
C=Meets Requirements
D=Below Requirements
F=Failure to meet Minimum Requirements
I=Incomplete

It is clear that as a team they get an A+, for not only making it to the MLS Cup match but winning it and anyone who claims that the playoff run didn't exceed their expectations is simply not telling the truth.

Player

Min

G

A

Final

Reason For Grade

Andy Williams

368

1

0

B+

Andy shows moments of pure brilliance on the pitch, but he also shows moments of being a mere mortal.  He simply struggles to go 90 minutes and that is the only knock I can put on him.  It was clear in the Cup match when RSL took a huge chance in bringing in Fabi for Yura instead of finding a way to sub out Andy, and that could have cost RSL the match but Andy used a lot of heart to keep himself going the full 120 minutes but it was clear that he was struggling(he wasn't the only player to struggle)

Chris Wingert

420

0

0

A-

Wingert was solid on defense and did a nice job in trying to move forward and provide support to the offensive efforts.  It is clear that Chris isn't an offensive threat as he has never scored a goal in his MLS career, but he did provide RSL with options when they moved forward.  I give Chris huge ups for stepping up on the biggest stage and taking a PK when he wasn't scheduled to and his finish was solid.

Clint Mathis

172

0

0

B+

While Clint isn't in the starting lineup he came into each match and provided both and offensive and defensive spark, he made some stellar passes and in both PK matches Clint stood up to be first for RSL and each time he was perfect in setting a tone for RSL's PK efforts

Fabian Espindola

222

0

0

B

I have been in a love-hate relationship with Fabi since his return.  I have hated his sometimes selfish play but I have loved the work rate.  In the playoffs he played much less selfishly but when given a chance to win the Chicago match he couldn't finish the task.  As a striker he should be able to finish when the match is on the line and he wasn't able to.  I still have high expectations of Fabi, maybe a bit too high.

Jamison Olave

420

0

0

A

Many people have said that Olave is one of the best defenders in the league when he plays in control and he proved all those people right during the playoffs.  He did get a soft yellow card but there is no doubt that Jamison is on the verge of being a MLS defender of the year.  He was everywhere he needed to be and not only covered his area but proved to me more than up to the task of backing up his teammates on the backline.

Javier Morales

299

1

1

A-

After a season that I have often questioned Javi's work rate and effort it was clear that Javi stepped up in the playoffs. His goal in the 2nd leg of the Crew match was the difference maker in the playoffs and while his disappointing PK effort in Chicago has me tempted to drop him lower, before his injury in Seattle, he was playing very well and to be honest if he had been able to play at 100% in that match I think we may have put it away in regulation.

Jean Alexandre

1

0

0

I

You can't grade one minute of playing time, but it should speak volumes that your coach is willing to put you on the playoff 18 man roster as a rookie and into a match at all.  I think Jean is going to become a larger part of the RSL overall effort into 2010.

Kyle Beckerman

420

0

1

B+

Kyle is capable of being an impact player in every match and in the playoffs he was a difference maker in several of them.  I thought the 2nd leg at Columbus and the Cup Final were his best matches and the way he was able to deal with the injuries to both his normal starting midfielders in the Cup match was impressive.

Nat Borchers

420

0

0

A-

IF it had not been for Nick Rimando's efforts in both PK Shootouts, I would have had to name Olave and Borchers co-MVP's of the playoffs.  Having to deal with the change from the injury to Beltan, Nat was like Olave, simply dominating.  Nat isn't a fancy player but he is rock solid on the backline and with RSL only giving up 3 goals in 4 matches a lot of credit has to go to Nat.

Ned Grabavoy

76

0

0

A

Earlier in the year I called Ned our 6th man (using the NBA label) and in the playoffs he proved me right.  Ned is called to step in to fill various roles but perhaps never was it more clear the confidence the team has in him than the Chicago match.  Brought in with just minutes left in the 30 minute extra time it was Ned who stepped up and put away the match winner in PK's.  He played a solid half plus in the Cup match and he again stepped up in PK's and was solid in every minute he was on the pitch.

Robbie Findley

420

3

1

A+

Robbie is simply a rock star.  He was there when needed in the first match, he stepped up in the second match to get the tying goal on the PK (the winning series goal), he nearly gave RSL the win in regulation in Chicago, and he got the equalizer in the Cup.  He was often the right man in the right place and more often than not he was able to finish it off and put the ball in the back of the net.  I think Robbie sent a message all year long but I think he marked that message with a exclamation mark in the playoffs.  If Bob Bradley doesn't give him some serious consideration for the early 2010 USMNT matches he is missing out on the one guy who could be a match changer in South Africa.

Robbie Russell

340

0

0

B+

If I had to evaluate Robbie on the first two of the 4 playoff matches, I would give him a solid D.  I thought in the away leg at Columbus he was very shaky.  In the Chicago match he stepped up and he played solid and in the Cup match he not only was solid but as a defensive player he stepped up and took the most important shot in his career and in RSL history and he didn't disappoint.

Tony Beltran

79

0

0

B

It is hard to evaluate Tony he played rock solid before getting hurt and even while he was back ready to play the last couple matches you have to respect the staff decision to not risk changing the lineup that was working.  Do I think Tony was more than able to do his job both defensively and in support of the offense, yes, yes I do.  Tony was the most improved player on the RSL roster and it would have been great to see him get into the Cup match.  Next year Tony, next year.

Will Johnson

345

0

0

A-

Wow is all I can say about Will's effort in each of the matches, he was all over the pitch and going after every ball.  The only thing could slow him down was food poisoning in the Cup match and while giving a solid 45 minutes in that match it was the efforts in all the other matches that earn high marks from me.  Will often gets the job of marking some of the best midfielders in the game and when you consider that RSL did so well to control those players a lot of the credit has to go to Will.

Yura Movsisyan

198

0

1

B

Given all the drama this year with Yura's off season move to Denmark, I had hoped that Yura would be able to find the back of the net in the playoffs this year like he was able to last year, but that wasn't to be.  I do question taking a fit Yura off in the Cup match when it was likely the match would go into extra time and Andy was struggling, but in the end it all worked out and for a cast off of the KC Wizards for Yura to leave MSL and RSL with a championship medal and with the knowledge he is part of RSL history has to be a nice feeling.

 

Keepers

Min

GAA

SHO

Nick Rimando

420

0.64

2

A+

Not only is "Nick your Homeboy", but the clear fact has been stated with "Rimando Saves" and if his 0.64 GAA wasn't enough 2 shutouts in 4 matches would be enough to get him an "A".  The reality that RSL owes the Chicago win to the great saves by Nick and the Cup saves were able to give RSL a chance to win it vs. having LA lose it.  Nick isn't the biggest keeper in the league but he is the MVP of the MLS Cup and the MVP of RSL's playoff run in my opinion.

So I have been a fan of Jason Kreis for years, before he was the first player signed by RSL, before he was the first player to score 100 MLS goals, before he was chosen as the head coach of RSL, and before he became the youngest coach ever to win MLS Cup.  I have to give Jason an "A-" because of a couple things that worked out but were huge risks.  Before that I have to give huge credit for playing aggressive in every match, it was funny that just a couple days before the playoffs a leader of another team accused RSL of playing ugly defensive football, the charge has been right in situations but no team played more aggressively and no team played more attractive soccer in the playoffs than RSL.  Jason chose to fight and be aggressive and not wait for things to come to him and the team, he chose to let loose the reigns and let the RSL players go out and take what they wanted.

In the Cup match there was no way to know that Javi would get hurt, but when a player is clearly sick as Will Johnson was, letting him play knowing you would likely have to sub him out at some point was a very risky move.  When Javi went down with the injury, Jason simply had to swallow hard the decision to start Will, but I can live with that decision, despite the risk.  I really question the move to take out Yura who was playing well in the 75th minute of a tied match to bring in Fabi, I love that move in a normal 90 minute match but it was clear in the 75th minute that Andy Williams had hit a wall and his effectiveness was dropping off.  To be a coach from the stands for a second, I would have made a Fabi for Andy change and let Fabi take over that creative midfield role.  Jason on the other hand took what I consider a very risky chance, and I know his logic had to include the thought that with the way we were playing that Fabi could be a difference maker in ending the match in regulation.  When you consider that Jason has been head coach less than 36 months, I can live with what I consider a mistake.

OK, that is it my post season report card.  I am sure a lot of people will take exception with my opinions, and I welcome your thoughts.  That is the whole point of the comment section.

OFF MY SOAPBOX