Goals. The end.
But not really.
It’s chemistry that is paramount for our forwards. They need to get past the contention that was obvious last season on the field and the sidelines. Expect a lot of rotation in preseason matches and watch to see how they interact with each other. Forwards are odd creatures. They’re expected to score goals, and confidence is often apparent in play. Think 2016 Golden Boot winner Bradley Wright Phillips who didn’t score his first goal last season until April 24th, the 8th match of RBNY’s season. If our forwards can come out guns blazing with high morale and esprit de corps, RSL should be in for a strong season.
Watch to see who locks down the wide role vacated by Burrito Martínez. It’s Jordan Allen’s to lose and I’m looking to him to step up and brand that position. Joao Plata is our other wide guy. Who backs them up? Sebastian Saucedo, home from a loan with Veracruz in Liga MX, and recently promoted Monarchs man Ricardo Velazco are going to be out to show they deserve the minutes. It should be a great competition among our players to see who wants it the most. Competition that should foster team cohesion.
Keep an eye on Yura Movsisyan’s backup. We’ve got a sure thing with Yura and he said he’s excited to play faster soccer this year. But who backs him up? That gig went to Devon Sandoval and Olmes Garcia last year. It’s now going to fall on MLS veteran Chad Barrett’s shoulders. Expect him to want to impress. Can he be our off-the-bench game changer? He has fifty-eight total MLS goals since 2005 and seven in his past 1,300 minutes played over thirty-eight games, twelve starts. To compare, last season Yura had nine goals in 2,161 minutes and Plata had nine over 2,478.
What else is spectacular about our preseason lineup? Forwards Allen, Saucedo, and Velazco join Glad, Acosta, and Fernández as products of RSL’s Arizona Academy. Youth development is the bee’s knees.
And goals. We need to score goals. We had forty-four last season. That’s a tie for sixth worst. San Jose had the league worst with thirty-two and NYCFC had the most with sixty-two. Supporters’ Shield winners FC Dallas had fifty and MLS Cup winners Seattle Sounders had forty-four, like us. Maybe tons of goals aren’t the only answer, but they’re certainly fun!