Saturday saw some strange things on the pitch for RSL. Justen Glad as a right back? Herrera pulling a Lennon?
Overall it was not what was expected for the match and was hopefully just trying some new things in preseason, not a foreshadowing of lineups in the regular season. Maybe it is just me but after watching Jurgen Klinsmann experiment with positions on the U.S. men’s national team, and Jeff Cassar and Mike Petke’s liberal use of the idea of getting best players on the pitch regardless of the position, maybe it would be nice for the Freddy Juarez era to not fall back into that pattern and actually play players in their preferred positions.
Keep in mind that RSL played a 45 minutes scrimmage with Houston Dynamo on Saturday and played to a 1-0 win off a Chang goal that came early after a couple of corner kicks.
The lineup for the scrimmage on Saturday: Andrew Putna; Alvin Jones, Erik Holt, Taylor Peay, Ashtone Morgan; Everton Luiz, Nick Besler; Douglas Martinez, Pablo Ruiz, Maikel Chang and Giuseppe Rossi.
So now that we have one preseason match under our belts, who are the 5 players to watch on Wednesday when RSL takes on Houston Dynamo? First a disclaimer: I expect to not see players play a full 90 like we did on Saturday. I think that we will see two different lineups.
1. David Ochoa
He is coming off of a man-of-the-match performance on Saturday with some big savs in the second half. He might be the keeper of the future, and so it will be interesting to see if he starts this match. Right now, it seems to be a two-keeper race between Ochoa and MacMath so look to see how he continues to lead his back line on Wednesday.
2. Chris Garcia
He was a spark for RSL in the last 10 minutes in the match against Sporting KC. He seems to have a great off ball movement, and this really helped open things up. It would be nice to see what he can do with 30-45 minutes on the pitch. It will also be interesting to see how he connects with other players on the team.
3. Aaron Herrera and Donny Toia
I was really expecting them to pick up where they left off last year. To be fair Herrera was out of position, but where was Toia on Saturday? Luckily this is preseason so I expect him to be sharper if he gets minutes. His play may open up minutes for Ashtone Morgan.
4. Everton Luiz
Since he played in the scrimmage and not in the game on Saturday it will be interesting to see if he plays on Wednesday. I would expect him to. Sporting KC was keeping the ball on RSL’s side of the pitch for most of the first half on Saturday. I would expect that with Everton in that would not have been quite so much the case. Beckerman did a great job being tough, but he did not get faster in the off season. Rotation in this position or at least giving Beckerman some breaks would be expected this season and Wednesday might be the first time we see some Besler, Everton pairings, or other combinations at defensive midfield.
5. Freddy Juarez
I know, I know, not a player, but his formations and lack of substitutions on Saturday were interesting enough that I think we are all trying to figure out who he is going to be like as a head coach. We saw him do a great job salvaging the season last year and making a push into the playoffs, but what will 2020 bring?
A lot of fans are paying attention to Freddy at the start of this season, hoping that not having the second coming of Kreis was the right call in the offseason. Will Freddy bring grit, determination and wins to RSL? A lot of eyes are on him at this point, and after Saturday many more will be watching the lineup on Wednesday.