Two half-time substitutions by Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis on Saturday spelled out his thoughts with the first half pretty succinctly, and they weren't exactly positive.
Let's focus specifically on the more interesting one — although there's plenty to be said about the other: Velasquez off, Morales on.
There was always a possibility that Javier Morales would come on at half-time, regardless of the state of the match. He's working his way back to match fitness, and minutes are the only things that will get him there. Javier Morales in for Sebastian Velasquez meant Luis Gil stayed on the pitch. Velasquez had been bright and involved, but as things are in a squad with a distinct hierarchy, he came off while the more experienced Gil stayed on.
Was that a mistake? It's difficult to say without some sort of magical access to what was not but could have been, but we can at least take a look at some statistics that indicate one way or the other. Those are a bit mind-boggling.
Let's compare Velasquez and Gil's respective outputs in the first half.
Gil: 14/19 passing, 1 tackle won
Velasquez: 25/32 passing (1 key pass), 1 block, 1 interception, 1 clearance, 1/1 successful dribble, 2 fouls conceded
It's pretty easy to tell who was more involved, and that's surely Velasquez. He completed in the first half nearly twice as many passes as Gil, covered more ground, and created more chances. In fact, he completed more passes than everyone excepting Kyle Beckerman and Abdoulie Mansally.
Let's look at how Gil and Morales fared in the second half, as a point of comparison. It's not a direct comparison, as the on-the-pitch situation changed, but it's the best we can do.
Gil: 9/16 passing, 1 recovery, 1 foul conceded, 1 foul suffered
Morales: 32/43 passing (2 key passes), 1/1 tackles won, 1 interception, 2 fouls suffered, 1 shot (blocked)
Morales obviously presents a clear step-up from Velasquez, as he does to Gil. On the back of the first half, substituting the more involved Velasquez may have made little sense on the page, but it should be acknowledged that Gil is likely to be better going for 90 minutes.
But that's not what we saw: After the 73rd minute, Gil didn't attempt a single pass. His final on-the-ball action came in the 78th minute when he attempted and failed a take-on.
Was it the right substitution? It may have seemed that way after the first half, but Luis Gil significantly disappointed in the second half. My main criticism of him as a player is that he fails to assert himself on a match, and while I think he's improving in that regard, he rather disappeared — as did most of the players involved on Saturday.