Smart Subs Sooner
Yesterday, I wrote an article examining the Kyle Beckerman red card. While I appreciate the ability to be overly verbose about the nuances of officiating, none of it needed to happen. A quick sub at the half probably sees Real Salt Lake finish with 11 players still on the pitch.
If you have followed RSL for any length of time, listen to any RSL-related podcasts, and/or follow any other RSL related news sources; this is a common refrain. Substitution patterns have been a problem since the Jeff Cassar era. There is something in the water in the coaches office that just makes all the coaches incredibly reluctant to make subs at all, let alone early in the match.
I struggle to think of valid reasons to not take Kyle off at the half. I find it even more difficult to understand why the change was made to have Corey Baird come on for Donny Toia. Switching to a weird three-man back line when you’re a man down and on the backfoot is a baffling decision. Especially if you’re going to ask (or otherwise allow) Nedum Onuoha to go forward into the midfield. It’s a very weird shuffle.
Yes, I’m armchair quarterbacking it a bit. It’s pretty easy to watch on TV and discuss afterwards what could have been done. I feel confident that Freddy Juarez has forgotten more about coaching than I’ll ever know.
The Kyle Beckerman substitution just seems so obvious though.
This was an observation that I made when I looked at the starting XI for Saturday night’s match. Here’s the starting XI with their “preferred” positions or the positions they primarily played in other teams.
- Damir Kreilach - Midfielder
- Justin Meram - Winger
- Albert Rusnak - Midfielder/Winger
- Maikel Chang - Midfielder
- Kyle Beckerman - Midfielder
- Pablo Ruiz - Midfielder
- Donny Toia - Right Back
- Nedum Onuoha - Center Back
- Marcelo Silva - Center Back
- Aaron Herrera - Left Back
- Andrew Putna -
This is who was on the bench:
- Zac MacMath - Goalkeeper
- Justen Glad - Center Back
- Corey Baird - Striker
- Erik Holt - Center Back
- Everton Luiz - Midfielder
- Nick Besler - Midfielder
- Jeizon Ramirez - Winger
- Christopher Garcia - Midfielder
- Milan Iloski - Striker
Do you see the same problem I’m seeing here? Even if we didn’t start a striker, there’s only two people available on the bench that could bring that “forward” presence. With Giuseppe Rossi and Sam Johnson both listed as “not medically cleared” on the injury report, I wonder what exactly the contingency plan was.
I don’t want to take anything away from Kreilach and Rusnak, but I don’t understand how it’s tenable for the team to go forward without strikers and forward players that play in the position and can be there game in and game out. It’s not uncommon to see Kreilach and Rusnak making recovery runs to shut down counter attacks and it leaves no one up top to spring the other direction.
It puts everything in a really weird shape that is difficult to get out of.
Especially when you’re not going to use all of your subs before stoppage time.
The LA Galaxy come into town with three wins, one draw, and one loss in their last five matches. They want to attack, they want to press, and they want to try and run you over. This means that it’s probably going to be especially dangerous to send the center backs forward without another center back there to fill in the gaps.
Maybe this would be a good opportunity to bring back Justen Glad as a right back and start Holt and Onuoha as the center backs. One strong defender to go forward and two strong defenders to break up anything that comes back. I’m kind of wish-casting here, but it sounds like it could be glorious.
Either way, the whole squad needs to be ready to hang back, shut down lanes, and absorb some pressure. That might be the ticket to walking out of this one with a point.