In the most recent edition of "The Salt", Matt brought up a very good point about substitutions. To paraphrase, Petke has shown he is hesitant to go to his bench - at least he doesn't do it frequently or early in most situations. This has been shown through the entire season. This last week against Minnesota, however, rotation was required. Through injury (KB) and fatigue (Rusnak), Petke dipped into his bench not only a bit sooner than we've seen him do in previous games, but with players he typically doesn't rotate. Unsurprisingly, this had a negative affect on the play. So what should have been done differently?
There has been a bit of discussion about this around the various channels RSL fans express their thoughts. Many, rightfully, have pointed out that the drop in play from Ruiz to KB was catastrophic. Similarly, the Baird sub for Rusnak impacted the front four in a way that essentially neutered their ability to attack. I've seen proposals of different players going in. I've seen rumblings that you can't sub those players. I've seen frustration that the team hasn't known any better. They're all true to a degree. Though I want to focus on that last part - frustration that the team hasn't known any better.
I've previously voiced my displeasure with the way the Monarchs are ran. In my opinion, the club should be a place where academy products fill over half the roster and the maximum age is in the low to mid 20's. But I don't run the club (and we should all be thankful of that). But one thing this club HAS done with the Monarchs, is use it as a recovery team for previously injured/now recovering first team players. This is great! With the loss of the reserve league, this was a logical decision. What hasn't happened with enough frequency, though, is for the players who struggle to make the 14 (maximum) possible gameday active players to get minutes with the Monarchs to stay sharp.
Pablo Ruiz has logged 292 minutes with the Monarchs across four games. Three of those were starts, one a sub. Corey Baird has 90 minutes with the Monarchs, all in a single game. Why? Why are we not leveraging the Monarchs to at least get the first team fringe player minutes if we're not going to use it to groom academy products? What is the purpose of this team? How long does it take for the club to realize that the way it is managing this portion of the pyramid is having negative affects through the rest of the club?
I'm not going to claim that, had Ruiz played more frequently with the Monarchs, there would have been zero drop in play. But I firmly believe it wouldn't have been as severe. Similarly with Baird. There isn't a player or coach out there that will tell you that training can fully replicate a game. And here we have opportunity to get fringe players more games, to stay sharp, and instead we're using them on 25-28 year old professionals that have a snowballs chance in hell of ever making it to the first team. While relying on the fringe players to come in after not having played in an actual game for weeks if not months.
It may sound like I'm finding a new way of grinding my favorite ax: Frustration with the Real Monarchs. Heck, there may be truth to it that I'm not consciously aware of. However, the first team dropped 2 very valuable points this last week and it can't be simply shrugged off as a poor performance given the circumstances that surrounded it. Things with this club need to be looked at more GENERALLY. From a MANAGERIAL perspective. Build a vision of a full club, not pieces that don't seem to fit together.