In high school I had an open look at an empty net from inside the six yard box. And I shanked it over the crossbar. The next day at practice my coach had me stand in the same spot in the six, and played ball after ball in, asking me to try to hit it over the crossbar. I could not. The laws of physics wouldn’t allow it.
I maybe missed a shot that was impossible to miss.
Every Wednesday I’ll be here at Inside the Six, dishing takes and taking shots, hoping some will find the back of the net. We’ll look back at Real Salt Lake’s most recent game, ahead to their next, ahead to one of this week’s national tv games, and at a few other things. Overall, I want this to be interactive so give me feedback on what you like and don’t like and together we’ll make Wednesdays RSL again.
1. A look back at Red Bulls
This was the story of the match in New Jersey. Daryl Shore decided to be practical at the end of a tumultuous week and put in an expected lineup with a clear directive to snag a point on the road by by defending in numbers and clearing anything that entered the defensive third. Aaron Maund was back running like a tasmanian devil and putting out fires, and Matt Van Oekel made just enough saves in his debut to secure the draw.
Though the attacking side wasn’t pretty, we created two legit good chances and if Saucedo’s shot had been a few inches to the right RSL could’ve taken the full three points off a New York side that hasn’t lost a home in the regular season since last April. Not a bad showing considering absences and the week the team just went through.
2. A look ahead at Minnesota
Minnesota United has set an MLS record by allowing 18 goals through the first six games of a season.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) March 25, 2017
They've played four games.
We need goals like baby animals need tiny umbrellas (a lot and as many as possible, in the shortest amount of time). Minnesota is currently hemorrhaging goals at an alarming rate. This should spell good things for RSL, but at the same time I’m more than a little nervous.
Our best looks this season have come when we’ve had the space to get in behind the defense, and I have a feeling that Minnesota’s modus operandi in this match will be “do anything except give up more goals”. We will probably see Heath play a five man back line, and maybe a six, seven, or eight man back line.
Maybe the Loons will throw caution to the wind and keep throwing numbers into the attack( they will be at home), but my gut tells me they are going to sit back and dare a punchless offense to break them down. Hopefully Rusnak, Lennon, or some other unsuspecting hero will have the creativity to unlock them.
3. Preview Seattle vs Atlanta
IDK if you’ve heard but Atlanta has scored a few goals this season. Josef Martinez has been a monster out of the gate and Miguel Almiron has shown flashes of the talent that had teams like Arsenal interested in the young Paraguayan. While they will be missing Martinez due to an injury picked up on international duty, Yamil Asad or Kenwyne Jones should fill the gap.
After posting huge numbers in the past two games, six against Vadim “dumpster fire” Demidov and four against a 10-man Chicago team, Atlanta will face a true test against the defending champion Seattle Sounders. I have a feeling United’s average goal numbers are about to take a hit, but if not we’re in for a Friday night thriller in Seattle.
4. Sweater Watch
The canary that stops singing in the coal mine, the drumbeats before the cave troll arrives in Moria, the low battery warning on your iphone: many things in this life are designed to warn us of impending doom. Jeff Cassar innocently wore a nice turtleneck sweater week one, but that sweater may as well have been Lester Nygaard’s coat from season one of Fargo. I mean look where we are now.
Each week in Sweater Watch, I’ll take a look at multi-game trends and questions that might signal things to come. Sometimes they’ll be good, most of the time probably bad. This week we’re talking about our passing, more specifically the amount of passes we’re completing. Our numbers look like this thus far:
Toronto - 66% (374 completed passes)
Chicago - 77% (499)
LA - 62% (265)
NYRB - 50% (246)
Surprisingly, our best passing performance was in the 2-0 away loss to Chicago, our worst result of the season. In every other game, not only do our percentages range from mediocre to poor, but the other team completed higher marks and with a higher number of passes. There has been a lot of talk about the forwards and our lack of scoring, but I think the bulk of the problem lies in our midfield. We’re getting bossed each week in the middle of the pitch and until that gets figured out, don’t anticipate a lot of offense.
Since this is the first week of this column, nobody has actually submitted anything for the mailbag so I made up my own question. In the future comment your questions, ask via twitter (@thejayveesquad), or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’ll get to one or two each week.
Hey Jake, I was reading this article on potential trade targets and noticed Matt Polster. Do you think he could be a good fit at RSL? P.S. huge fan!
Daaaaaang Jake, great question! I also saw that article and it got me thinking. Who is our back up DM? Is it Sunny? It’s not Luke or Luis Silva. If it is Sunny, who is our DM of the future? Danilo Acosta is the obvious answer but has played 0 minutes thus far despite Beckerman sitting out this past game due to suspension. It’s also been said that he may end up as an outside back.
If Acosta is not the guy the FO sees sitting as the #6 of the future, then Matt Polster would be a great target. He is a guy who has logged a good amount of MLS minutes on a team that is stacked at his position, meaning he could potentially be had at a discount. He could come in, play a backup role until Beckerman moves on, then sit in the hole for the next decade.
However, if Acosta is still considered a D mid, the answer is simple: don’t trade for Polster and get Danny boy some game time. It’s not like stellar performances from our current CM’s are keeping him glued to the bench.
6. Quote of the week
Bruce Arena, on whether #usmnt is having more fun now: "We’re bringing a clown in for lunch today. Make balloons for the players"— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) March 27, 2017
Bruce gets it.
Thanks for reading. Leave thoughts and questions in the comments below! (it’ll help me convince my wife that I have friends. Please. I need this.)