If you watched the RSL victory over the LA Galaxy last fall in the 2nd leg of their playoff series, then little during Saturdays 1-0 win in LA was probably surprising to you. Just like the fall match, RSL was victimized by some strange calls including a clear goal being called back on a mystery call but instead of letting it get them down, they powered on and managed to still pick up the victory.
The highlight of the match, or highlights had to be the extraordinary effort in goal of Nick Rimando who made several key stops but none more important than the stoppage time PK stop of Robbie Keane to keep both the clean sheet but also to ensure the RSL victory. Several times mistakes forced Nick to clean up opportunities that the Galaxy had, some required his normal saves and others will likely get him nominated for save of the week. Nick in true RSL fashion was quick to point out that it was a collective team effort that secured the victory:
It’s tough to get a result, let alone a shutout here, and they came at us like we knew they would and I thought the defense played great, and by defense I mean the whole team.
Nick is right, work by everyone on both sides of ball is always a key to how RSL plays and we saw a lot of that, and while not every thing was perfect the mistakes were either quickly covered by a teammate or the Galaxy failed to capitalize. It was good to hear that Nat Borchers mentioned that the team pushed for Aaron Maund to get the start and that confidence in him was rewarded by a solid effort against some of the most dangerous offensive players in MLS.
So while new head coach Jeff Cassar did little that was unexpected in the starting XI, I thought his subs were interesting and showed an aggressive nature. He rewarded guys who had great pre-season runs, first by bringing in Luke Mulholland for Luis Gil when the match was still 0-0 and fairly wide open. He was rewarded for it by some great play including a goal by Luke that was wrongly called offside, but the MLS rookie played well and showed a lot of potential against a top opponent in a big road match. Next up was Cole Grossman coming in for Javier Morales, perhaps a bit more of a defensive move but given the hacking that Morales was suffering it was a move that was needed, Cole played well and just minutes after the change RSL was able to get a goal on a play that Cole played a major role in. Finally as the match was in the closing minutes HomeGrown player Jordan Allen came in for Joao Plata, and while his first touch was a bit rough he quickly rebounded and showed a great deal of maturity when he had a ball in the attacking third of the pitch and instead of a youthful run on goal, he went to the corner to run some time off the clock.
The match lived up to all my expectations, I was impressed with the composure RSL showed on the road under some real pressure from the Galaxy, beyond just the saves of Nick Rimando the whole team stepped up to secure a huge road win. Still it was just one match, and both sides will likely get better in the next couple of weeks before they face off again at Rio Tinto Stadium on the 22nd of March.
It would be hard to not give Nick Rimando my man of the match, and it is a lot closer between Luke Mulholland and Aaron Maund for my surprise of the match but I think the 90 minute effort by Maund has to get my vote. I remember a particular TV announcer saying how impressed he had been a couple years back with Aaron while he was still with TFC and playing mainly in Champions League matches, it is great to see Maund living up to that praise.
On to face San Jose in their MLS season opener on Saturday, if you want to catch a sneak peek of the Quakes, they are in CCL action on Wednesday when they will host Toluca in the first match of their quarterfinal series. I expect that San Jose will be looking to get off to a good start to rebound from what has to be considered a sub-par 2013.
That’s How I See It