I know it is just the 9th match of the season, but given the performance of RSL over recent weeks, and the performances of Seattle, LA, and FC Dallas in recent weeks really means that RSL needs to do more than get 0-0 draws. Now I know given the departures of Alvaro Saborio and Arturo Alvarez for Gold Cup duty will mean that the duo of forwards we have used in recent weeks are both gone, we will lose Will Johnson after Saturday's match and those losses combined with the injuries to Javier Morales and Paulo Jr (which will keep him out for at least a month), that it may take some time for RSL to regroup but time isn't something we really have to spare.
So if you combine factors, clearly this is a must win match.
1) LA continues to get results - they now have 26 points from 14 matches (1.86 points per match) and their 1-0 win over Houston on Wednesday was as effective as it was flaky (the "handball" wasn't intentional and didn't give Houston an advantage). It is likely that the Galaxy will get at least a point from the Saturday match against New England, but they could struggle without Landon as he has either scored or assisted on half of their goals scored this season. For RSL a win lets them at least keep pace.
more after the jump
2) Dallas is hot as can be - FCD now have 21 points from 12 matches (1.75 points per match) thanks to their 1-0 win at Seattle on Wednesday and given the way their defense is playing right now they will likely secure at least a point from their Saturday showdown against the Dynamo in Houston. I am not a huge fan of the defend and counter style that the Hoops have adopted since the injury to David Ferreira but you can't argue with the results. Dallas won't be hit like other teams due to Gold Cup callups, they should continue to roll.
3) Seattle is struggling - Oh sure they 17 points, but it has taken them 13 matches (1.31 points per match) and their only win in their last 5 matches was a stoppage time goal by Jeff Parke (his first in over 7 years) against the worst defense in MLS, Sporting Kansas City. Last night the Sounders dominated the match but they couldn't find a way to get a goal and that cost them 3 points at home. They are 1-2-3 on the road and I expect that against the RSL defense they will continue to struggle to find goals.
4) We have to move on - I get being down after the Champions League Final, having so much at stake so early in the year was a huge deal and losing at home simply took the air out of everyone in the organization. I get it, really I do, but you have to move on, there is more at stake this year than just the Champions League and if you want to get back to that level then you have to move on.
I get how hard it is for a team built around a style of play can struggle when the player responsible for leading that style gets hurt, I get how awful I felt during and how bad I still feel now about that injury to Javier Morales, but you have to move on. No single player is going to step in and replace one of the very best players in the league, but collectively you have to move on.
June will be brutal, No Javier, No Paulo Jr., No Alvaro Saborio, No Arturo Alvarez, No Will Johnson, oh and 6 matches in 21 days with 3 of them away from home and each of those against teams from the Eastern Conference. Even at full strength it would be hard but when you subtract huge parts of your roster it becomes brutal. So facing a team at home that has been struggling a bit, you simply have to move on with all the other things and get the win. You will have the fans behind you, you will have all the advantages that Rio Tinto brings, you simply have to allow yourselves to do what you do best, win.
No this isn't panic, it is the simple reality of the numbers and the facts, anything less than a win on Saturday could have huge implications on RSL's run for trophies.
OFF MY SOAPBOX