There is a lot to be said about what we just saw, so I'll focus on Justen Glad and let the rest of the staff take all of the other points.
Here's a breakdown of Glad's activity during the game:
- 15' - Excellent clearance, breaking up a beautiful cross by Chance Myers that surely would've ended in a shot on goal by Dom Dwyers.
- 19' - Poor touch to let Dwyer in behind, great recovery to deflect the cross out of play.
- 29' - Beautiful header across goal, kept low for the goal.
- 48' - Poor clearance that leads directly to a Dwyer chance, nearly a acrobatic goal.
- 54' - Excellent deflection to break up a cross.
- 57' - Accurate clearance/pass to break up play.
- 65' - Beautiful long pass to Yura under pressure.
- 70' - Good touch, pass up the left side.
- 71' - Good header from defensive side to give ball back to the midfield.
- 72' - Beautiful pass up the field.
- 74' - Good awareness to pass out of play on a SKC break for the throw in.
- 91' - Crucial block to keep SKC off the board.
As you can see, Glad had some up and down moments in his debut as a semi-permanent starter. However, they came within the first 50 minutes of the game, after which RSL relied heavily on him to keep breaking plays up, and he obliged. Glad made a strong statement to Jeff Cassar tonight that the team can depend on him as a starter going forward. More than that though, the players around him seemed to have immense confidence in him as their center back. That being said, I still believe there should be a rotation between the three center backs, because Olave has also been doing very well this year. In fact, RSL's defense looks better in general than it has since 2013. They hustle, play like they're organized, and hold the line. How many times was Dwyer called offsides tonight? Somebody really made their mark with the defenders, because on every offsides replay, the RSL defensive four are perfectly in line, an organizational skill that is really hard to teach, let alone get right. Props to Jeff Cassar and crew for getting that right.
Speaking of Jeff, I have to tip my cap to him tonight. RSL was organized, strict in their positioning, and pressured very well. He took a bunch of kids from the academy and draft (Glad, Stertzer, Allen) and told them that they had to not only replace four of RSL's injured and suspended "stars," but play a counter attacking/ high pressure system with the goal of winning, rather than playing for a road draw. And I think every player who missed the game tonight just got put on alert, that RSL's squad is deeeep this year, and competition for a starting spot is high. In all, Cassar impressed me, and if he continues to do so this year, there will be a lot of folks eating their own shoe on his abilities as a head coach.
Finally: A Comment on Commentary
I've lived in Oregon for the past two+ years, before which I lived in Chile for six months, meaning that I have a lot of experience with streaming RSL games. Now while MLS Live does a fantastic job (in the US) of providing all of the games, I can't stand commentators who are biased. I've been very proud of RSL's ability to hire commentators like Dunny and Bill Riley, as they seem to see the game as I do. Sure, my opinions may be biased towards RSL, but I tend to objectively agree with many decisions against RSL. When I do see an unfair amount of reds given to RSL, or non-calls against the other team, the most frustrating part is having to listen to super-biased commentators (Portland, anyone?) talk like every (Timber, Rev, take your pick) is a saint and Olave is the devil. I've spent many minutes yelling at the scream as they pompously talk at me, acting like they're making objective commentary. That's why I was pleasantly surprised tonight at the class commentating coming from Kansas City. They agreed with almost every call or non-call that I did, including offsides and even agreed that Luke was hard done to get a yellow. During instant replays, they didn't blatantly lie about what all of the viewers could see with their own eyes (think Olave "elbow throw" that apparently killed Adi). Thank God another MLS organization has gotten it right. Cheers to you.