A win and a good one at that. Here’s some things I learned and a bit of a knee jerk reaction, although one of my more sane knee jerks of late.
High pressure is the way we should play
This should come as no surprise, but RSL is really good on defense when we play a high line — defending from the front 3 first.
We saw this very consistently during the undefeated start to the season. It was somewhat odd to see for us as traditionally we never had numbers forward to defend. Over the last few months we have seen a change, probably due to injuries and player rotation, to a deeper defensive line. Being frank, we are not at our best when we sit back and try to absorb pressure or when we rely entirely too much on the back 4. I would argue that very few teams can be successful in those situations.
Playing high definitely comes with a set of risks and can be very dangerous if every single player is not playing positionally sound soccer. (Ignore that this sentence sounds like Bronco Mendenhall) The danger comes in exposing yourself to counter attacks or being caught with too few defenders in back. That is especially noticeable if Tony or Demar are high up one of the wings. Defensive rotation is key and Olave/Glad directed had the back line moving well left to right to cover any moves forward from the wing backs.
RSL looked aware defensively and smartly positioned through out the match, which is nice to see after a somewhat disorganized 90 minutes v Seattle last Sunday.
Rounding into form?
I can’t say this definitively and I am going to leave it as a question mark, but I have to ask it after this one. Let’s be reasonable here (cause people didn’t like my RSL gonna win it all piece) and say that it’s just one game. But I want to talk about individual performances and the impact that they could have long term.
When you look at this team it’s fair to say that we’ve been inconsistent as a group over the season. What I think we’re starting to see is a return to form or a refinement of play from some key players. There are a lot of questions still, but it’s really interesting to see guys like Jamison Olave looking like himself again and Olmes Garcia having really good stretches of play from almost out of nowhere. For this season to get better these performances need to become consistent rather than spotty, and we’ve only 9 more games to do it before stuff really starts to matter.
Knee jerk reaction
1. an immediate unthinking emotional reaction produced by an event or statement to which the reacting person is highly sensitive; - in persons with strong feelings on a topic, it may be very predictable.
So, my knee jerk reaction tonight is that THE VERB is back. If you’re unfamiliar with that, you missed some good years from Jamison Olave. I’ve been rather hard on the guy this season and now he’s making me eat my words, but I have loved nearly everything we’ve seen from him in recent weeks.
It’s a different Jamison than we’ve seen since his return to RSL, and for that we should all be grateful. I have so many questions about what is driving this change in form. Maybe I’ll dig into those questions this week? The point being that an in form Jamison Olave is good news for Salt Lake. If he can play as smartly as he did vs Dallas, and maybe even score a little bit here and there, it might be one of the biggest pieces we need for a good push into the playoffs. (and wining the whole thing. HA!)