So I have been AWOL for a couple of weeks, this is what can happen when life and work collide with passion and hobby. Anyhow a lot of thoughts about the last couple of weeks, but all of that will be covered and more, to get started I thought I would offer my thoughts on the last 3 matches during which RSL has looked good at moments but too often mistakes have left us without the desired and often deserved result.
Starting with the 1-0 loss at the Rapids to kick off April, a match in which a simple failure to clear a ball out of the area allowed it to ping pong around and past Nick Rimando, and a failed PK attempt by Alvaro Saborio were the key plays in a match where RSL otherwise was the superior side. It isn’t often on the road in MLS where you see a side dominate possession by a 60% to 40% edge over the home side, or where the visiting team has 130 more passes than the home team, but those are the facts of what happened. The match reminds us that soccer can be a cruel mistress and it leaves RSL in a hole heading into the final match of the Rocky Mountain Cup later this summer. Perhaps the only good things to come out of the match were the performances by Devon Sandoval (his first MLS start) and Olmes Garcia, both of whom did very well for first year players and have forced themselves into a real dogfight for minutes at the top of the RSL formation.
Next up for RSL was the final of 5 road matches which made up a majority of their first seven matches of the year, it was a trip to Vancouver and as most RSL fans know the team has never won a match in Canada. For a few minutes it looked as if that streak might end, as rookie Olmes Garcia came on in the second half and was able to take what should have been the Goal of the Week
winning shot to give RSL the 1-0 lead in the 66th minute. Of course a bit of controversy had to be involved in the final outcome, as a handball was called against a falling down Nat Borchers when the ball hit his arm twice. Oh the places I could go with the call and the way the handball rule is enforced in MLS, but that is for another day, needless to say I disagree with the call as there was no intent and no advantage. The following PK was converted and again in a match where RSL was the better side, the win wasn’t to be but a tough fought road draw allowed RSL and their fans to maintain hope that things were turning around. Again RSL dominated possession 57% to 43% and had over 100 more passes than did the home side, I will give credit where it is due the Whitecaps did take a lot more shots and had it not been for some amazing stops by Nick Rimando this would likely have been a RSL road loss.
This gets us to last Saturday and RSL’s return home to start a 3 match home stand, the opponent a much improved Chivas USA. This match was very entertaining as both sides fought hard and played a more open and attacking style than is often the case when teams come to Rio Tinto Stadium, perhaps no stat display this more than the nearly 50% to 50% possession battle and the fact that RSL completed just 17 more passes than their opponents. One of those passes was a beauty from Alvaro Saborio who found Javier Morales in the area and Javi was able to do the rest and convert to give RSL the only goal of the match and the 1-0 win. The match was a rough and tumble match, which resulted in a total of 5 yellow cards (3 for Chivas, 2 for RSL) and a straight red for Edgar Mejía of Chivas in stoppage time.
So I think we have seen a progression over the last few weeks for RSL and surprisingly it has been some new guys pushing the team forward, Olmes Garcia has forced himself into the line up, and Lovel Palmer has taken full advantage of his opportunity and I think provided RSL with some exciting play on both sides of the ball but I would like to see him do a bit better with his possession. It has been fun watching Luis Gil and Sebastian Velasquez really continue to develop as players for RSL, each now are not young players with potential, but they are now young players who are delivering results. A healthy RSL is going to be a much better team than a lot of people expected after all the off-season changes, depth is something this team is going to have a lot of as a result of the injury bug that bit the team early on in the season.
So there you go, a bit of cleanup from the last couple of weeks.
That’s How I See It