Well that has to be one of the most interesting road trips in recent memory for RSL fans, only the late Montreal melt-down kept the side from picking up all 9 points, but if you had said that you would get 6 points from those 3 road matches, I think most people would have been happy with those results. Heck when was the last time that RSL scored 8 goals in 3 road matches? I can’t think of a time when we scored that many goals on the road, and that we did it while still suffering from injuries impacting our forwards is even more impressive. If you have read my blog for long you have known that I wanted a more aggressive Ned Grabavoy, who often was looking to pass instead of shoot when he was in dangerous positions, well after two goals on Sunday night, I can only hope he keeps on making runs and shooting. So how about a quick recap of the recent 3 match road trip:
The match at New England was interesting; RSL mixed up the lineup on short rest and had a solid result in picking up the 2-1 win despite giving up the opening goal. Devon Sandoval notched his first MLS goal, while Olmes Garcia picked up another and continues to impress observers. It was also nice to see RSL able to deal with playing on a turf surface without too many issues, and I liked that the team was able to battle back to not only get a result but a win. That victory marked the first time RSL had given up the opening goal but won the match this season, RSL is 1-4-1 when allowing the first goal vs. 5-1-1 when scoring first.
Next up was a quick trip north of the border saw RSL almost walk away with a 2-1 road win over Montreal, but some lackluster defending down the stretch and failure to finish a few great opportunities of our own, allowed the Impact to pick up 2 goals in the final 10 minutes and stoppage time to steal a 3-2 win. RSL was the better team for the majority of the match but simply looked to run out of gas at the later stages of the match, and while it was disappointing to see them lose the chance at a road result, there was still hope for points from the three match road trip.
The road trip ended at the Home Depot Center, a place that is really like a second home for RSL, and if you saw the match you sure got that feeling as RSL picked up a 4-1 result in a match that was a lot more intense than the scoreline might indicate. A brace (2 goals) by Ned Grabavoy lead the way for RSL as he scored the first and last goal of the match, we also saw the return of Robbie Findley who came on as a sub and scored a goal, and as an extra bonus the first RSL goal of Joao Plata. Don’t fool yourself into believing that this was an easy victory, there were several points where Chivas looked the more dangerous side, but RSL was able to weather the storm and there was no late meltdown.
OK, let’s take a look at the bigger picture, we are at 13 matches in and 20 points, and while that might be a bit lower than what we are used to as RSL fans, given the many roster changes and injuries that the team has dealt with over the start of the season, you can’t be too upset. Three teams in MLS have more points than RSL at this point of the season, New York Red Bulls (24), FC Dallas (24), and Sporting KC (21), while Houston and Montreal each have 20 like RSL. Now each of these teams have played a different number of matches, so perhaps the best real measure of where teams are today is to look at their points per match average.
Two teams are sitting at the top of the pile in this category, FC Dallas and Montreal both have 2.00 point per match averages, they are followed by 3 Eastern Conference teams New York (1.71), Houston (1.67), and Sporting KC (1.62). It should surprise nobody that teams from the East have feasted on the struggles of bottom 3 teams in MLS, each with a sub 1.00 average, DC United (0.45), Toronto FC (0.64) and the Chicago Fire (0.70). Real Salt Lake sits in 8th place in the league with a 1.54 points per match average, just hundredths of a point behind the LA Galaxy (1.55) and Portland Timbers (1.58), but realistically in 4th place in the Western Conference by the more accurate ranking. Still knowing that we have missed Alvaro Saborio for over half of the season now, and that Javier Morales has started just 7 of RSL’s 13 matches, 2nd place actual and 4th place based on ppm are not bad places to be for RSL.
You have heard it, or read it several times by now, but we are starting to see it in action: “RSL will be a better team in June than they were in March, and better team in October than they are in June” and with the depth of players getting minutes (21 of RSL’s 26 field players have seen first team minutes already) it could be a good summer and fall for RSL.
That’s How I See It