For the first time at home this season, RSL scored 3 goals in a match, heck what makes it even more impressive is they did it all in the first half and against San Jose. Perhaps a bit of revenge for the sweep we suffered last year, or maybe it is all just starting to come together, much like RSL GM Garth Lagerwey has been saying all year? One this is for sure, as a fan it sure was a lot of fun to watch. As it seemed like Javier Morales, Joao Plata, Ned Grabavoy and Robbie Findley were sharing one mind, each played a role in at least one if not all of the RSL goals, including the Goal of the Week nominee by Robbie Findley. How bad was it, well Frank Yallop made two tactical subs in the first half bringing in Rafael Baca for Sam Cronin and Steven Lenhart for Adam Jahn.
With those changes San Jose seemingly woke up and started to play better, where the highlight of half may have been seeing a bleeding Steven Lenhart, after a collision with Kwame Watson-Siribore on a corner kick mixer in the area, I do hope he isn’t hurt badly. There were also some save of the week caliber saves by Nick Rimando, who picked up his 107th MLS clean sheet. RSL kept pushing for more goals but Jon Busch was able to prevent any more goals from being scored on a night when RSL clearly new the recipe for his beans (that one came from the stands and was too good not to include).
It was a nice way to start the very important June schedule for RSL, and hopefully an indication of things to come over the rest of the month and season. One fact that many fans may not have thought of was the minutes played over 7 days for both Javier Morales and Kyle Beckerman who played 300 minutes over three matches. Remember many of us talking about what a fully fit Javier Morales is capable of? Well I think we might just be starting to see it, if we keep seeing the chemistry build and develop with this new corp of strikers with the midfielders then things could be very exciting for RSL fans.
It was also mentioned by RSL head coach Jason Kreis that Robbie Findley was finally back to being healthy after only getting one match in so far this season (the Seattle match in which he scored a goal) where he had entered the match fully ready to go. Many of us remember this Robbie from the 2008-9 seasons where he was both able to score goals but also use his speed to create chances for others, I hope we continue to see these types of results from Robbie.
Then there is Ned Grabavoy, who has equaled his previous season high in goals in the last 3 matches, and has shown why so many of his teammates sing such high praises of him and his abilities. I like this more aggressive Ned, and think he provides a great option for offense out of the midfield runs that he has been able to make and finish on in recent weeks. One would think that with all this offense that maybe he has been slacking on the defensive side of the ball, but RSL has scored 8 goals in their last 3 matches while giving up just 2. This has been with a mix of midfield partners as well, but no matter the combinations of players, something just seems to have clicked in recent weeks. It was also great to see a now fit Khari Stephenson back into the mix for RSL, after missing some time with an injury Khari now provides RSL with an option that has size and perhaps the hardest shot in all of MLS.
The defense has been good, the rotation at center back brought Kwame Watson-Siriboe out to partner with Nat Borchers and I thought they did a good job of dealing with the Gordon-Wondo-Lenhart combo for the vast majority of the match. They only got off 4 shots combined and just two required action from Nick Rimando who was up to the task, with Save of the Week quality as always. It was another night of precise workmanship by both Tony Beltran, Chris Wingert, and Abdoulie Mansally, I think far too often we take what our outside backs bring to the match for granted. When you add in Lovel Palmer to the mix we have some of the best and most diverse in what they can do outside backs in the league, depth on top of depth is a great thing to have over the long MLS season.
The vibe in the first half was very similar to the start RSL had against the Seattle Sounders a couple of months ago, and hopefully will be something we see moving forward as the month and season progresses. A lot of big matches still to be played for RSL, and a lot of chances to build on the form we saw on Saturday.
You can check out my pictures from the match on my google+ page.
That’s How I See It