You know I never thought that at this point of the year that I would have to write this post, but almost every year it happens. Something doesn't go the way people expect and this dark, almost evil side of things comes to light, it is like a freakin Harry Potter movie, how quickly despair sets in and people start to self doubt and self loathe. Yeah that is over the top, just like the reaction of some people who in the last 5 days have all of a sudden started pointing fingers, second guessing, and yes believe it or not doubting.
So let's flash back to a year ago, if I had asked you if you thought RSL would have advanced to the finals of the Champions League, most everyone would have said "no" sure we thought they would make a run but very few people including me expected them to win their group. When the won their group, some of us got our hopes up that we would advance past the quarterfinals, something no MLS team had done and when we saw the draw we got excited knowing we could beat Columbus, and not having to face a Mexican team until the finals, well that was frosting on the CCL cake. Heck we could make it to the finals, and if things just went right we might even be able to pull it off, but they didn't. In the end we lost to Monterrey, a team that has a payroll 3 times larger than ours, a team that has dominated in Mexico for several years. Yes it would have been great, but in the end it didn't happen.
Now it is far too early in the MLS season for such a huge letdown for staff, players, coaches, and fans but it happened. Then the unthinkable happened we went to Portland and lost a MLS match, oh my we better start finding new players, a new coach is clearly in order, and as funny as that is, there are some who are buying into that. Sad, simply sad. So this is the point were some people out there start to whisper, and they start to read into things without having full knowledge of what is going on, and this is where the rumors begin.
more after the jump:
So today I was asked several times about Paulo Jr. leaving the team, I was baffled by the questions but I mean what else were people to think? He didn't even get into the match against Portland, then someone over heard someone who said something about him making a trip to Brazil, or maybe saw him dropping off his roommate at the airport today, or just because they love to watch other people panic, so surely he must be leaving.
Honestly people, you wonder why I no longer go to Big Soccer, well it is stuff like this. Paulo Jr. was hurt, it is a hamstring injury and while the team was hopeful that he could give it a go on Saturday (he was scheduled to start) he couldn't and why with 29 MLS matches, US Open Cup matches, and whatever else might come our way would you risk a rising young star? Now, at some point this year it is very likely that Paulo Jr. will head back to Brazil to re-file his work visa papers, but be clear that he is a part of the future plans of RSL.
Listen I get that we don't like to lose, our players don't like it and as fans we don't like it but there is this harsh thing called reality and everybody loses sometimes. On Wednesday we lost at home to a great team, but it has been 37 matches before that since the last time we lost at home. Really, that is mighty good. Then on Saturday we lost in MLS, and while some start to panic, I look at the fact that we had gone 18 matches in league play without a loss, almost a league record.
Then there are some who are worried that Sabo hasn't scored, and i just shrug. I mean it isn't like the guy has been huge on the road in MLS play in the past, I think he had 2 goals away from Rio Tinto last year. Plus the fact that this year he is still recovering from off season knee surgery, and every defender in MLS knows him by name and many are clearly looking for an autograph because no matter where he goes there are one or two that follow his every step for 90 minutes.
So for you who may still be in panic mode, or rumor mode, or whatever pie ala mode you are in, here are some facts for you:
In 2010 Real Salt Lake scored 45 goals in 30 MLS matches or 1.5 goals per match, at home they scored 31 goals in 15 matches or just over 2 goals per match, that means on the road they scored 14 goals in 15 matches or just under 1 goal per match.
in 2011 RSL have scored 8 goals in 5 matches or 1.6 goals per match (oh no), at home they have scored 5 goals in 2 matches or 2.5 per match (wait that is better than in 2010?) on the road they have scored 3 goals in 3 matches or 1 goals per match. There must clearly be something wrong, I mean all these people are in a panic because Sabo hasn't got 12 goals already this season. Oh wait, there is a really simple explanation for all of this.
Spoiled fans, and I don't mean that in a bad way as in "spoiled rotten", I mean we have been spoiled by a team that is simply incredible. You realize that in just 3 road matches we already have 2 wins (we only had 4 out of 15 last year), you realize that we are just 3 points behind LA in the standings despite them having played 4 more matches than we have. We have been spoiled by success, winning MLS Cup in just our 5th year as a team, winning our group in Champions League, being undefeated at home and being just 3 points shy of the Supporters' Shield in our 6th year. Playing in a Champions League final and being 4-1-0 in our 7th year in existence, all things that supporters of almost every club around the world would take in a heartbeat and be dancing in the streets.
Not us, nope we want more and we want it now:
I want the world. I want the whole world. I want to lock it all up in my pocket. It's my bar of chocolate. Give it to me now.
Veruca Salt - Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Reality check time, we won't win every match, but I have no doubt that every player that puts on the Claret and Cobalt will give everything they have when they are on the pitch and more often than not that will be enough to get the job done. That my friends is enough for me.
Now if you must find something to do before the match on Saturday, how about this? Make a sign or flag to bring to the match, get your friends and neighbors to go to the match, show up before the start of the match and cheer on our team, wear red on Saturday (even if you don't go to the match). How about we do the positive things, like follow the RSL players on Twitter and send them words or gratitude and encouragement and leave the rumors, the backbiting, the criticism for those teams with real issues?
OFF MY SOAPBOX