Draws at home aren’t good enough, never have been and never will be in MLS this year the home teams are 98-32-59, in the West 4 teams haven’t lost at home, 2 more have lost just once. RSL’s has had draws in 3 of their last 4 home matches after winning their first 5 home matches, so while we can take pride in not having lost at home, we need to get back on that winning side of things and on Saturday facing the New England Revolution who are 1-5-3 on the road and who have never won at Rio Tinto, there should be no better time to get a home win.
It may not be fresh on the minds of RSL players or fans, but last year at New England we did one of those mixed lineups and got thrashed 4-0. Of course RSL has had a few of those big wins over New England as well, a 6-0 and 5-0 wins in their matches at Rio Tinto back in 2009 & 10. This is actually a series that RSL holds a distinct advantage in with 9 wins, 5 losses and 4 draws and only twice in those 18 matches have we had a 0-0 draw and none since 2007. In fact 11 times RSL has scored 2 or more goals against the Revs, and have 34 overall goals against them. Being shut out last year was the first time since 2007 that RSL hadn’t scored against New England. Toss in the fact that the Revs will be without Charlie Davies, Juan Agudelo and others and it’s starting to sound like this one should be a cakewalk right?
The Revs could be getting back Gershon Koffie, who has been out for over a month, they also recently added Kei Kamara who has 3 goals since joining New England from Columbus. Add in Lee Nguyen and Digeo Fagundez, and the results can change, the Revs won just 2 of their first 13 matches but have won 3 of their last 6 so this is clearly a team that is putting things together. So can RSL follow the example of LA and FC Dallas, both who beat the Revs 4-2? I expect a full strength lineup from RSL (some questions about Joao Plata and Demar Phillips who have minor injuries they are nursing). Still with LA winning last night, and both Sporting KC & Vancouver able to leap in front of RSL in the standing with wins this weekend, 3 points is critical for the Claret and Coblat.
This match comes down to a fairly simple premise for me, finish chances. RSL has just 2 goals in their last 4 matches, including being shut out twice, and you can’t win if you don’t score, we are 0-2-2 in those 4 matches. In the 5 matches prior to that streak, RSL had multiple goals in each of their matches and were 3-1-1. In recent weeks it has seemed to myself and others who have mentioned it, that RSL seems to again be hunting for the perfect shot or that guys are looking to pass first and shoot second. I want them to be greedy, if you have something close to a decent chance take it, then crash the area for any loose balls. We need goals from somewhere other than the PK spot if we are going to get back to our winning ways.
To go with scoring is of course the need for defense, the fact that RSL has come back from giving up the first goal 4 times to get wins is impressive, what is scary is in the 10 matches where we have scored first we only have 4 wins. We have only seen RSL hold a clean sheet twice so far this year that is the same number of times we have given up 4 or more goals. RSL did a nice job of taking care of Kei Kamara in the a preseason matchup, as Justen Glad did more than hold his own and kept the very dangerous striker out of the action for most of the match. It will need to be a team effort as the Revolution have any number of guys who can put dangerous shots on goal, Lee Nguyen has 5 goals and 7 assists so far this season and will require a lot of attention from Kyle Beckerman.
July hasn’t been a good month for RSL, the time to turn that around is now and while it may be easy to think about the big friendly with Inter Milan just a couple days away, RSL players and fans must remain focused (that means no playing Pokemon in the stands during the match) on getting 3 points on Saturday night. This should be a 3-1 RSL win, it is time for us to score some goals.
That’s How I See It