Were I to sum up RSL’s 2019 season with one word, it would be a word that I’ve used many times over the weeks: perseverance.
Perseverance, according to Dictionary.com, is a noun that means “steady persistence in course of action...especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.”
Let’s start with a poem that I think encapsulates the idea of perseverance. It’s from Jack Prelutsky’s poetry collection The New Kid on the Block.
This is my reading of the poem, MLS style. The iron rear represents the big money teams: LAFC, Atlanta, Seattle, Toronto, etc. They have an iron rear. They’re built to withstand and it comes to them naturally. They spend to have that iron rear and it’s expected that they consistently perform.
We fall into the final two lines. RSL are the otherwise. As the smallest market club, we struggle to attract the talent that other teams bring in. That means it’s up to the whole organization to put together a product that works. From top to bottom, we’re in for “very painful practice.” Perseverance.
We assuredly persevered this season. Through a bunch of front office drama. Continuing front office drama.
And yet we landed 3rd in the Western Conference and 6th overall. As Jack Nicholson’s version of President of the United States in Mars Attacks said, “and that ain’t bad.”
2019 should be considered a successful season. It’s our best finish since 2014. I got back to expecting us to win! I was devastated when we lost to Seattle in the playoffs. I’d forgotten what it’s like to be crushed by a loss. The last time I felt that was the USMNT vs T&T. It’s nice to to have those emotions back, even if they’re crushing. It’s good to feel something other than apathy toward RSL again. All of my apathy is now reserved for the USMNT.
This league is getting stronger and it’s only going to get more difficult, yet we put forward a top-tier performance. It could present a problem: now that I expect this team to win, I’m going to be cranky if RSL cannot keep it up. I don’t want to go back to a middle-table (or lesser) team. I like the top tier finish. My expectations have been stoked and, dammit, I expect RSL to come out swinging next season.
Despite the evidence glaring back. The evidence that says we’re back to rebuilding. That we’re in for hurdles and struggles and dips. That we’re going to hype hype hype this off-season and come out flat. That we’ll end up with another Alfredo sauce player; or worse, coach.
Can this team persevere into 2020?
What one word would you use to sum up RSL’s 2019 season?