Jeff Cassar went 90 minutes without making a substitution on Saturday in Real Salt Lake's 0-0 draw — a move that surprised most on first glance, but in retrospect was perfectly justified.
In an interview Tuesday on ESPN 700, Jeff Cassar explained why he went the full 90 minutes without using a substitution.
There was some risk associated with substituting a player, and given the relative speed of play, Cassar opted to keep all the starting eleven deployed.
"The pace of that game was just very fast, and if I made a move to put somebody into that situation, it might have worked out, it might not have," Cassar said.
But it was more than just a desire to mitigate risk: Cassar added that he thought the lineup was one capable of making a difference.
"I thought the energy level from the XI we had on the field was still creating chances, still putting it in on the defensive end, and I thought the rhythm was good, and I wanted to continue that," he said.
He wasn't wrong about that. LA Galaxy had been somewhat remarkably held to very few chances, and at the same time, had continued to create chances on the attacking side of things. From the 68th minute forward (a standard sub-making time), Real Salt Lake took seven shots, four of which were on target. (To be fair, one was an attempted olimpico from Javier Morales.)
Play continued to build on the flanks at that point, as it had through most of the match. The substitution options weren't necessarily the best for that scenario, and let's break down why.
Cole Grossman's a good central player and will do his best work there. Ned Grabavoy wasn't ready to play unless absolutely necessary. Abdoulie Mansally could have played, but Chris Wingert was having a fantastic match of his own. Carlos Salcedo wasn't likely to get on, as making a defensive substitution would have provided unnecessary risk and was wholly unnecessary. Robbie Findley wouldn't have carved out chances better than Joao Plata did and wouldn't have been a better resource than Alvaro Saborio. Sebastian Jaime is in the same boat as Findley here at this point. The only player that might have been an option would be Jeff Attinella for Nick Rimando, but you'd have to be an insane person to want to do that.
So it's pretty obvious why we didn't change things. We still had options to net a win, and though they didn't come to fruition, we remained positive and creative. There was no sense whatsoever of playing for a draw.