RSL Soapbox) What led to the departure of Alan Gordon and how much does his absence hurt the Earthquakes?
Center Line Soccer) There are multiple factors that led to Alan Gordon's departure. First and foremost, his production this year has been way down for the Earthquakes going from a personal record of 13 goals in 2012 to only 4 goals in
2013 to none for the Quakes this year. Add to that the injuries he has suffered throughout the past two years and a bit of rumored strife between him and the coaching staff, it is no surprise that Gordon is back in LA with two goals already to his name. As for if his absence hurts the Quakes, I would say right now San Jose is struggling to find healthy forwards and Gordon being unavailable is a blow for this struggling team. However, his departure does open up some cap space for the Quakes to hopefully find another quality goal scorer that can stay healthy if the San Jose front office decides to really go for a playoff push.
RSL Soapbox) Wondolowski is a fantastic player on a team that is having some struggles this year. How much of that is on his shoulders?
Center Line Soccer) Chris Wondolowski is known for carrying a lot on his shoulders with ease. I am sure he is trying to take responsibility for some of the issues the Quakes have been facing; however, it is a team sport and it is really on everyone from the coach to the guys on the pitch to the guys at
training. Wondo is getting hot again after the World Cup and has scored 5 of his 10 goals in the past 8 games. He has missed a few shots but he also has helped with 3 assists (2nd highest for the Quakes this season). Wondo is the Quakes front man, captain, face of the team and hopefully next year will be another year to shine. He has already became the 3rd player in MLS history to have 5 consecutive seasons with double digit goals and is closing in on his 100th goal (currently has 89 to his name, of which 82 have come in the past 5 years.) So if anyone can help a struggling team, it would be this man.
RSL Soapbox) How far away is the club from having their own stadium and how much of a shot in the arm will that provide?
Center Line Soccer) The club's stadium, although a year later than anticipated, should be completed by opening day of 2015. In all, it could be completed by November/December and then just have the huge parties for the next season. This stadium is a huge shot in the arm for not only the front office, the coaching staff and players but also for the fans. The Quakes have been needing a home of their own for many years, it is part of the reason they left for Houston and became the Zombie Quakes (a.k.a. the Dynamo). Not only does this help morale but it brings in a lot more money to help fund quality players like Matías Pérez
García and Chris Wondolowski. I think everyone in Quakes-land is ready for their new epicenter to be fully functioning to make their own seismic waves on MLS.
*Questions from Center Line Soccer to RSL Soapbox*
Center Line Soccer) How is life without Jason Kreis for the team this year?
RSL Soapbox) New coach Jeff Cassar has provided continuity to assuage the rough patch that Real Salt Lake fans experienced, and that has been the key. In an interview last week, Kyle Beckerman said that Cassar was essentially a second coach when Kreis was at the helm, so the transition has been pretty smooth. By not changing the style of play, Cassar has solidified the RSL system and shown that this philosophy of a team-first, "play the right way" mentality is here to stay. Cassar has of course put his own touches on the tactics and has a large say in who to keep with the club and who to bring in, but RSL's identity is healthy and looks to be here for the long term thanks to Cassar wanting to stay the course. In fact, when he was hired part of his argument was "Why would you hire anybody else?" He had been with Kreis for years and understood the club as well as anyone.
Center Line Soccer) How does RSL look with all the World Cuppers back?
RSL Soapbox) Real Salt Lake struggled a bit while Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, and Alvaro Saborio were gone. As soon as Beckerman and Rimando returned, the team played with confidence again. I think Beckerman and Rimando demand respect and hold their teammates accountable. Now that the summer doldrums are over, Real Salt Lake have looked great except for maybe one or two games. Garth Lagerwey stated a couple weeks ago that Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando are to Real Salt Lake what John Stockton and Karl Malone were to the Utah Jazz. They make their teams competitive and consistent. Once Alvaro Saborio returns, Real Salt Lake will be at full strength again as Saborio is a reliable scorer and the all-time goal leader for Real Salt Lake.
Center Line Soccer) What makes RSL so dangerous and where should the quakes be worried?
RSL Soapbox) The thing that makes RSL dangerous is that they are a possession oriented team that likes to pass the ball. Within that system, RSL can attack from various angles and their midfielders and outside backs often get into the attack. You won't see Chris Wingert or Tony Beltran score many goals, but they provide good service and/or relief if needs be. All of the midfielders, however, are capable of scoring and do score goals. In fact, after Joao Plata and Alvaro Saborio, Luke Mulholland and Javier Morales lead the team in goals. Ned Grabavoy, Luis Gil, and Kyle Beckerman get a few goals each per season as well. So this is a team that makes it hard to focus on just one or two players.