It is now beyond RSL’s depth as suspension and injuries force the team to bring up a couple of Monarch’s players just to fill out their roster when they take on Sporting KC on Saturday night. Let’s start with the things that were avoidable, the red cards and suspensions:
- Kyle Beckerman – Red Card vs Portland
- Jamison Olave – Red Card vs Portland
- Juan Manuel “Burrito” Martinez – MLS disciplinary action vs Portland
It is hard enough to beat a rival, even harder when it is a pretty good SKC team, but to do so without 3 starters all suspended for what one has to consider silly and pointless fouls it doesn’t do the club any favors. Now for RSL when you add in what all of a sudden is a rash of injuries:
- Javier Morales (broken ribs)
- Emery Welshman (hip flexor)
- Olmes Garcia (ankle)
- Omar Holness (shoulder)
- Boyd Okwuonu (concussion)
- Phanuel Kavita (knee)
The issues were so bad and deep that RSL used a hardship clause to bring up both Emilio Orozco and Andrew Brody for the match. I don’t expect either to see action but one never knows.
RSL isn’t alone in missing talent as SKC will be without Roger Espinoza due to a red card and Matt Besler, Justin Mapp, and Paulo Nagamura who are all out with various injuries. However on a positive note, they should have back Graham Zusi who was with the USMNT for their midweek match and could see Benny Feilhaber make his 2016 debut. So what was never going to be an easy task for RSL becomes more difficult but will provide some guys with a chance to step up and shine in a big match.
While RSL has found the back of the net 6 times so far this season, SKC have only given up a single goal in their 3 MLS matches in large part due to a solid defense and the work of former RSL backup keeper Tim Melia, who has become their starting keeper. For RSL the good news is that Joao Plata has been in great form to start the season with 3 goals and 2 assists in our first 3 matches, form that was good enough to win the MLS player of the month award for March.
The biggest hit for RSL will be right down the spine with Javi, Kyle and Olave being out, if you were just replacing those 3 it would be easy but things get more complicated with Burrito and Olmes also being out. I think you still go with Jordan Allen to fill the creative midfielder role, but that means you probably bring in Devon Sandoval up top with Yura moving to the outside of the front 3 (if you keep that 4-3-3 type of formation), but that could leave RSL with no forwards on the bench. I think Jeff might get a bit creative and go with something like this:
Beltran – Glad – Maund – Wingert
Stertzer – Sunny – Mulholland – Allen
Plata – Movsisyan
With Jordan moving between the midfield and up top as the match dictates. I do think it could be a match where you see Danilo Acosta make his MLS debut, could you also see something like moving Demar Phillips up to the midfield? Jeff Cassar has his hands tied by injuries and suspension, he does have a lot of interesting options to play with in a match that to be honest RSL has nothing to lose given the odds they are facing.
Getting a result will be difficult but to do so RSL will need to do the following:
- Leverage Yura – with Plata starting so well teams are going to pay extra attention to him, this should create a bit of space for Yura who opened his 2016 scoring account vs Portland and is a guy we will need to come up big in matches like this.
- Play clean and mistake free – Three red cards in three matches is simply unacceptable and each of them were silly mistakes that shouldn’t have been made. We have a good team but nobody is good enough to play a man down in a majority of their matches and get results. No stupid cards, reduce the mistakes on both sides of the ball, let SKC make the mistakes.
- Don’t let Dom beat you – Last year SKC had Nemeth to score when Dwyer didn’t and Benny had a stellar year with 10 goals and 15 assists but Nemeth is gone and this will be Feilhaber’s first match of the season, so Dom is the main threat and if you shut him down you will force someone else to beat you.
We have seen short handed RSL squads do amazing things (both good and bad) in recent years, so you never know what you will get in matches like this but I believe it is a chance for guys to step up when some of the bigger names are missing, a chance to convince your coaches, teammates and fans that you deserve more attention and more playing time. This is the type of match were you can go from a role player to a leader, the question is who if anyone will take this opportunity to shine?
I will say RSL getting a result is a long shot in this one, but I am going to pick a 1-1 draw if RSL can keep their composure and finish the match with 11 men.
That’s How I See It