As Albert Einstein famously said, “Terri, how’s my hair? Seriously? They are taking pictures at work today, are you sure it looks good combed out at the sides like this?”. One of his lesser known quotes is regarding insanity and that it amounts to “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Right now, everybody at RSL must be feeling a little rattled because they’ve walked out of a game where they should have won and instead we’re left with only a point thanks to themselves.
Once again, we outplayed a team in every stat and once again failed to make it matter on the scoreboard. At this point, I’m ready for Season 11 of The X-Files to open up with Mulder and Scully running around the Rio Tinto trying to find a voodoo doll or a burial ground under the stadium that’s cursed us like this!
Finishing. Again. Because it always is
Forgive me for repeating myself but this week it’s staggering. 20 shots, 27 crosses 664 passes vs 324 from Columbus, 88% accuracy and 67.3% possession. That’s amazing for a team that’s been through this kind of season. That’s the kind of stats that win you MLS Cups. Dominance isn’t a word I use lightly here but RSL dominated Columbus across every metric worth measuring apart from the scoreline. You could look at this two ways really. Columbus were tenacious with their defending and kept a never say die attitude against the onslaught that was RSL. Our forward passing was a joy, the chances we created with decisive. It was like a hot knife through butter, like bullets through paper, like Diesel through Bob Backlund. What matters though is not the aesthetics but the execution and like with so many other games this season, chances went begging. Twice off the post, twice right at the keeper and once at a defender. All you need is one of them to go in and it changes the game. The one I want to focus on is the Yura chance at 80 minutes.
Far be it from me to abandon a bandwagon I helped get rolling but that’s just awful. Really bad finishing after really good play. You don’t see it but Acosta once again pops up and plays a good ball to Yura who in turn does some great work holding the ball up (something we’ve needed from him for a while) which releases Plata into wide open space. He puts a pinpoint ball at the feet of Yura and he just rolls it wide. Now, I couldn’t finish that if you gave me all night but Yura is the man in this squad! He’s a DP and the top paid guy in the squad and he isn’t even going to hit the target! Something has to change somewhere because if we’re going to keep making mistakes at the back, we’ve got to outscore teams and frankly we’re not short on chances to do so. Of course, we could always....
Fix the leak
More individual errors costing the team points means we have to score more goals, which we’re getting better at but are not perfect at. We could always stop letting those chances in! While Glad is becoming a key part of that defence I’m not sold that he’s good enough yet to be honest and unless Silva is just struggling to adapt, I don’t think we have a play off calibre central defender on the team. It’s proven too costly to have a rotating set of centre backs each game and we need to find a pairing that will work for a long time. Somebody needs to step up and lead at the back line or we need to start shopping.
Fuel for the Fire
After Mike Petke burnt the house to the ground last week I expected the team to take that injustice and spear Columbus on it. It wasn’t to be and it took the team a while to get going and it cost us an early goal. Somehow the passion Petke brings to his role needs to be brought into the players. There’s passion and there’s aggression and only one is useful. We saw what aggression got us with Portland and it cost us our Captain. I’d like to see a return of passion on the field when it comes to defending and finishing chances.
A point against Columbus should be something to be happy about after the kind of season we had at the start but with us on the up and them spiralling down it’s a kick in the teeth to not get them. Maybe I’m being hard on the team, it’s the start of the school holidays here so this weekend I’ve been up at 6am to help kids turn on ALL THE DEVICES and then I watched UFC 214 which left me very deflated too (although I won’t post spoilers) but I don’t see how we can play so well and then be happy with a point. There’s plenty of time this season for more drama but we’re starting to see now where this team needs help and there’s a small part of me waiting for the off season so we can move things around and make those chances and get a fresh start. With a full season I think Petke can do amazing things with us.