RSL coach Freddy Juarez has received a great deal of acclaim over the past two matches for his substitution patterns that have led to late goal scoring rampages in both matches. However, their opponent this Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium, Seattle Sounders FC, are unlike both the Rapids and the Timbers in a couple of very important ways.
Colorado and Portland have allowed 14 goals each in their first 7 regular season matches in 2020. Seattle has allowed only 5 goals through their first 7 regular season matches and multiple goals only once, the 2-1 loss against Chicago in their opening MLS is Back tournament match. As you might expect from the defending MLS champions, the Sounders understand how to kill a match once they get a lead.
10 of the goals scored by Colorado’s opponents and by Portland’s opponents have come in the final third of the match (later than the 60th minute). Only 1 of the 5 goals scored by Seattle’s opponents has been in the final third of the match and in came in that same 2-1 loss to Chicago in the MLS is Back tournament.
It is entirely possible that the stats for Seattle would be different if they had previously played RSL, who have scored 7 of their 11 goals after the 60th minute, but the converse can also be argued. Why not press for a goal early in the match and then preserve a lead against heavy Sounder legs at altitude rather than playing defensively from the start and then hoping to score against heavy Sounder legs with late substitutions?
If the RSL coaches truly believe that Giuseppe can provide a moment of magic against Seattle in limited time on the pitch, why not shoot for that moment early in the match. Real are entering a very congested portion of their schedule with multiple matches a week which will force squad rotation. They are also currently allowed five substitutions a match, which limits any harm that may come from being forced into an early substitution. Let Rossi put in his 25 to 30 minutes at the start of the match rather than try to provide a spark in the dying moments. Baird and/or Johnson cans still bring fresh legs at the back end of the match rather from the first whistle.
What say you?