Earlier this season I wrote a Fan Post titled, “What does the addition of Nedum Onuoha mean to the squad?” and now we finally have our answer: experience.
RSL coach Mike Petke even commented on it when asked about Onuoha insertion in the Starting XI at LAFC on Thursday.
Petke said Nedum was the star tonight. He made sure to say that Justen Glad did not lose his place. "We needed the experience," he said. #RSL— Alex Vejar (@AlexVReporting) November 2, 2018
Petke’s comments are exactly what Real Salt Lake fans need to hear. Before tonight, coach Petke typically played a young back-line: Herrera (21), Besler (25), Glad (21), and Lennon (21) during the past couple of months.
Exceptions to this method are the Atlanta United game when Marcelo Silva (29) started alongside Justin Glad, and the last home game against New England where we saw our first look at the Onuoha-Silva pairing.
Furthermore, we had struggled defensively during the season as we have the worst defensive record of any team in the playoffs. However, we are still in the playoffs, and if the game against NE and LAFC are any indicators the thing we so desperately need on the back line is experience.
Nedum Onuoha is that experience that RSL has been so desperately lacking. In both games which he played a full 90 he has shown that he is smart on the ball and brilliant at clearances. For example, in the LAFC game, where RSL had 43 clearances he had himself 10. On that note, Ounuha also had 5 interceptions, 4 additional headed clearances, and 3 successful long passes.
Overall, he was everywhere in RSL’s defensive third and maybe himself known to all LAFC fans. Nedum’s performance wasn’t only glorified by the stellar RSL fans at the Beer Bar that night: According to the the Audi Player Index, he had the best RSL player score of 742.
RSL’s ability to put the experience on the back line is one of the most obvious changes in the starting XI during this last showing. As well as it should, the men in Claret and Cobalt battled to a victorious 3-2 win and during the last fifteen minutes of the match showed a strong defensive performance.
Looking forward, Real Salt Lake fans must see if Petke rolls out the same back line for Sunday’s match against Sporting Kansas City. The most obvious change might be for one of the center backs, either Silva or Onuoha, to take a break and start Justen Glad.
Nevertheless, if Thursday’s game was any indication on the influence experienced CBs do to this team. I would love to see our no. 14 out on the pitch.