Hot take: the new uniforms look great with the blue shorts. I want to see away jerseys with the blue shorts at some point, too.
The match against the New York Red Bulls gave us some hope. The team played well, and it was fun to see some new players get some time on the pitch.
Let’s be clear: Douglas Martinez is good (Monarchs fans already know this) but he will score goals for RSL. Jeizon Ramirez is crazy fast. And it was fun to watch how the attack improved when Damir Kreilach was in a midfield role.
Set pieces were much improved, and Albert Rusnak seemed to be in his element on set pieces, with the exception of the field goal he launched from the top of the box. It was good to see the improvement in the set pieces and hopefully that continues moving forward. So, here are 3 areas for improvement.
OK, not to be a broken record here, but the attack looked much better with a real striker in (Martinez) and with Damir in the midfield. Players in the right positions seem to help…but ultimately what needs to happen more frequently is to get the ball in the back of the net. One again, formation here helps.
Here is how I might line up the attack this week: Martinez up top with Ramirez and Justin Meram on the wings. In the middle for attacking midfielders I would have Kreilach and Rusnak. Behind them I would have a 4-1 with Everton Luiz a lone defensive midfielder. He can totally lock that down.
Let us be clear, MacMath is not Rimando, nor will he ever be. David Ochoa really should be getting starts at this point. It was a hard shot that made it past MacMath, but we need a keeper who can stop a shot from outside the box. Would Ochoa have stopped it? Well…based on what I have seen, there is a good chance.
So, have we been spoiled by having the Wall of the Wasatch? Yes.
Is Ochoa a good keeper? Yes.
Will he get better? Yes.
Are we not playing him because MacMath really — I mean, really — won out the starting job? I would be surprised.
Is this because Ochoa is headed to Olympic qualifying and the Olympics? Maybe. Do we need a change at keeper? Well, maybe. I bring this up as an area of concern and improvement, but to be fair, one goal conceded in 2 matches is not the end of the world, although I am taking into account the preseason in the judgement of MacMath. What I am really concerned about is the fact that MacMath is only passing at around 46.4%. Let’s see if this week can be more effective for the keeper.
So, this may seem like a strange one, but let me elaborate. Not only is our goalkeeper only passing at around a 46.4% success rate, as a team we are at 76.5%. We are trying to play as a possession style team, but the possession seems to be without purpose at times.
If we have the lead and use possession style play as a tactic to protect the lead, OK. But when we are down a goal, possession has to have the purpose of breaking down the defense, finding the holes, and then having the right players in the right positions to score goals.
So, does passing start on the back line and keeper? Yes. Nedum Onuoha, and Marcelo Silva have 90% and 88% passing accuracy respectively, so no worries there. Donny Toia is down at 69.9% and Aaron Herrera is at 74.4% and Justin Glad rounds out the defenders with 62.5%.
When you add in MacMath’s passing accuracy, and the number of backline clearances, the passing stats are grim. The build of the attack begins in the back and moves forward, and it is hard to score goals when the passes coming from the defense are not as accurate as we might want.
In summary, did things improve from the first match to the second? Yes. Can they continue to improve? Yes. Will we score goals, and possibly A LOT of goals this year? It sure seems that a breakout match is closer than we might think. Add Giuseppe Rossi into the mix and there is a lot of hope!