There are a lot of ways one can look at the second leg of the pre-season. A pessimist would say that RSL didn’t win a game and an optimist would say that RSL didn’t lose a game.
Therefore, finding a good balance of the two in the “What We Learned” articles becomes something that I can only do by separating them into subcategories of what was good, what was bad, and what was ugly. I will attempt to do all of that in addition to stressing the importance of traveling to a different environment for the second leg of the preseason than the team was in the first leg, and will be in for the third leg.
There is honestly not much that can be said in this category other than it was a damn good thing to train and play in rainy Portland (and on turf) for at least a few matches than it would have been to stay in warmer climates. RSL saw three different teams than they did in Tucson and will see in Irvine, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Most players are showing up literally, (looking at you, Beckerman and your injured knee) but aren’t making as much of an impact as one might like to see at the end of the second leg. If nothing else, we can rest assured that although we never held on to a lead, we also always came back from a deficit. That will be crucial going into the bloody Western Conference this upcoming season.
As I mentioned briefly at the end of the last section, too many players haven’t been overly impressive lately. We can blame fatigue, turf, pre-season form, and overall lack of playing many games together, but it would be nice to see one aspect of the team (the attack, the midfield or the defense) starting to work better together, and it just isn’t there.
Previous years have shown that teams don’t necessarily need to come out of the floodgates guns blazing, (looking at you, Seattle) but truth be told, RSL showed that they couldn’t hang on during the last stretch of the 2016 season and if that goes into the first stretch of 2017, it’s going to be harder to pick it up at the end. In their three games, RSL hasn’t shown it has enough fire power to be competitive for very long stretches—if they are, they fall asleep at crucial times and let multiple goals in within a short time period (Minnesota) or let one in late (Minnesota).
I will come out and say it (feel free to disagree in the comments): We need Beckerman in these games. Not because we need him in order for the team to play better or because we need to actually win a game, but because he is the captain of this team and needs to be present at these games.
If we want to have a chance this upcoming season, we need to have those we rely so much on present. I know what many would say—why risk injury if we need him so badly? I agree, it’d be silly to risk an injury, but I’m not sure how prepared he will be against Toronto with only two games under his belt (assuming he plays in the third leg).