There’s a lot packed into the title of this one. More than I want to write about right now, honestly. Last night was the most frustrating night for me in all of my years as a fan of this game. I didn’t think it could get any worse after Houston mid-week, but there was something about that team that said “hold my beer”, as the kids say. (did I do that right?)
I think it’s finally fair to say that this is the point at which we have officially hit rock bottom, and it will be a miracle if we get off the floor during 2017. I’ve said for some time that I am not taking results seriously until July, but I think that it’s fair to take note of just how poor we have been over the past two matches, specifically.
It’s bad. It’s not getting better right now. It might only get worse.
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, however, as some of our best players thus far this year are returning to us for the USOC match and the MNUFC match on Father’s Day weekend. I’m not sure that fixes all the problems but it’ll be interesting to watch especially considering what Petke said post-match.
Okay, enough of that. Here’s what you came to this piece for. WHO TO BLAME. Man have I seen some hot takes on the interwebs last night and this morning. The hottest of hot takes says to get rid of the entire front office and let Freddy Juarez run the show. ::FIRE EMOJI:: I love Freddy and think that he will be one of the lone hold overs on Mike’s staff after this season. He is RSL and a very important part of what we want to build in the future — but he belongs on the field not in an office. People blame Craig, DLH, Jeff Cassar, Rob Zarkos, and everyone at Rio Tinto down to the sales team, it seems. I find it kind of odd that no one has gone to where the blame should really be placed; squarely on the shoulders of Garth, Jason, Bill, and all of us as fans.
Hear me out. I am not saying that Jeff Cassar isn’t culpable for the run of current form. I think that he should have the lions share of blame for the play on the field and the mentality of this team over the past 10ish months. That DLH and Craig didn’t let him go sooner is definitely hard to gloss over. That said, I think the issues we are seeing are directly related to the contracts that we kept too long during the Garth/Jason days and the positions that Craig and Jeff were put into starting in 2015.
Sidebar: Where does the buck really stop, though? Does the blame fall on the players? We’ll be discussing this more on the RSL SHOW tonight with Spencer Warne. Check that out tomorrow.
When I look at the team that was on the field v Houston and v FCD I see a team that is experienced, talented, and has won A LOT of games for RSL. Kyle, Tony, Wingert, Schu, Yura, and even Maund have all been strong/stalwarts of this club — some for the better part of a decade. They know how to play the game. They know what being a professional is. They should be able to not get beat 11-3 over two games. Period. So what happened? Is it possible that having the same guys together for so long has actually become our Achilles heel?
These are guys who we all love, who we’ve all wanted to see play out their careers here. But while that was executed on by Garth, Jason and co we got older and other teams got younger. While RSL was worrying about Family and continuity, other teams were worrying about getting younger, faster, and more dynamic. Garth said after 2013 that a lot of guys got new contracts to give that group one more run at a trophy together. Those contracts have become anchors for anything we’ve wanted to do over the past 3 years.
Craig and his front office staff have had to juggle salaries, in an already very difficult league, to find ways to make moves that better the team. With Javi, Kyle, and Nick taking the lion share of the non-DP salary over the past few years we have become too top heavy (and an argument could be made about potentially not being creative enough cap-wise) to compete like we used to. When RSL was top 2-3 in the league for those years we were essentially playing money ball. Spend the right money at EVERY spot and you get a team that is good to great at more spots than teams that spend a ton of money at a few spots. As those guys got better and RSL rose in prominence they got paid more - which they earned. That has continued even in the bad years to keep the “core group” together to build around.
More so, our nostalgia as fans, and as a club, has gotten us and kept us into these contracts and positions at no less than 5 spots on this team. All told there’s about $2.5 million in cap hit that is hold-over from the glory days and THAT is what is to blame.
My point is this. This team as it currently stands has the talent on paper to do more than they are currently doing — but probably not enough to do what we all want them to do which is win trophies. The young guys coming back make us better, but that will not be enough. Imagine Craig and Mike going into a transfer window with 2.5 million in cap space and young and hungry team in the wings. After the summer and the winter transfer windows we’ll have a better idea of what Craig (who I think has more than proven himself and we’ll see more of this in the summer) and Mike (who really hasn’t even been given a chance) can do with the club going forward.