With the improved form the club has showed over the past month or so, much talk has been put on the possibility of making the playoffs. A venture that, in my opinion, is a pipe dream. Sure, there is still a mathematical chance we can qualify for the playoffs, but the streak the team would have to go on would be insane.
To make the playoffs, it would require something similar to what Seattle did (7 wins, 2 losses, and 3 draws) to end last season. I like the improved level of play, I admit we have an easy schedule (ON PAPER), but that kind of form just isn't reality with this club. Shadowed in the two recent road wins is the fact that this team hasn't won a home game since the middle of June. In the last three home games, in fact, we have just two points. That's not the sign of a team that's making the playoffs or a run at them.
So what's my point you ask? You didn't ask? Well here it is anyways
NOW IS THE TIME FOR RSL TO EXPERIMENT
The quick thing many (including myself) say to this is "youth movement". But it's more than that. It's about figuring out who deserves a roster spot on Petke's 2018 roster. It's about looking very honestly at any player over the age of 30 (or will be in 2018) and giving those below their opportunity to displace them. It's about not playing the same bloody lineup every weekend. It's about mirroring, as closely as a club team can, the USMNT's "Camp Cupcake" while we have truly competitive games to do so.
When playoffs become the target, winning at any cost is the means by which it is done. Players (cough Kyle cough) are played despite their future with the club being very much in the balance. You don't care about 2018 when you're focusing on the 2017 playoffs. 2018 couldn't be further from your mind. It's the well known and documented battle of a coach (priority that weekend) against that of the general manager (the next few years) in full display.
I'm not saying we should just tank the rest of the season on purpose. There should still be reward for the right players in practice. We should still play with the desire win. Veterans should still be in the 18 and even 11 to finish out the season. BUT, if a player is showing he could maybe work in a spot currently occupied by a more long standing player, you give them that chance. You sacrifice the known with the veteran for the possibility with the younger player.
In real terms, what does this mean? Well, as I hinted to before, it means KB gets phased out of the regular XI. No, not fully dropped, but he should be regularly subbed when he is starting. And those starts? They should be cut down. If KB finishes with more than 25 starts (he's at 16 currently) then we've done a disservice at anyone getting an honest chance at the spot.
Another example? Rimando. I'm actually of the opinion that he is the guy for 2018 so long as the cost is brought down. However, I'm guessing Nick doesn't want a pay cut. This means we've got to prep for a potential move to LAFC. We've got to see if the replacement is on our roster (Lalo? Sparrow?) or if it's really time to shop. This isn't unique to players at the end of their contracts, though. Demar Phillips is in the group. We're already seeing this with Acosta. But that should be permanent. Not just injury induced. Chris Wingert shouldn't be in another gameday 18. etc.
More than just phasing out older players, I want to see experimentation. What if we made a sub at half even if the game didn't feel like it demanded it? What if we played a game with 3 in the back while tied or maybe even ahead? What if we played an honest to god 4-3-3? What if we played an actual 2 man forward setup? This means, inherently, that bodies are moved around. In fact, it probably means you give a contract to a Monarch player or two.
My ultimate point is that we've been given a great opportunity to try things. It's not every season that you are OK with the coach (in fact love him) but realize they aren't making the playoffs. We're in a spot to try things. To not do so would be a huge miss.