Well we are 4 weeks into the MLS season and the RSL we will see on the pitch and on the bench on Saturday will be very different than what we started with. Injuries, callups and a fired head coach will all impact the lineup that RSL can put out against the New York Red Bulls, the question is can it/will it be enough? 5 potential starters are listed as questionable along with 2 others for RSL (Joao Plata, Jordan Allen, Aaron Maund, Justen Glad, David Horst, Tony Beltran and Chad Barrett), then toss in 2 starters that will be on national team duty (Nick Rimando-US, Albert Rusnak-Slovakia) and 1 starter suspended (Kyle Beckerman), oh and our head coach is gone (Jeff Cassar).
So what will a lineup look like? We will cover that later, the reality is an early afternoon match on the East coast is rarely a easy thing for RSL to deal with, we have had little luck when facing the Red Bulls/MetroStars on the East coast with just 1 win in 9 matches. Still NYRB will be missing some key pieces as well, Connor Lade is going to make the 18 man roster but I expect he won’t see action, Michael Murillo and Sacha Kljestan are out on national team duty. Can RSL play spoiler and break the current 15 match unbeaten steak of the Red Bulls at home?
Keys to the Match:
Score – RSL has just a single goal this season (last week’s goal from Yura Movsisyan) from 24 shots and 11 shots on goal. It isn’t good enough and yes you are missing some players and have been missing some the past couple weeks but the reality is simply if you can’t score you can’t win. RSL’s attack last week looked good for about 30 minutes with Lennon, Movsisyan and Saucedo up top, but this week there is no Rusnak pulling the strings so it will be a bit tougher as I expect we will see either Luke Mulholland or Luis Silva in the creative role (probably a bit of both). So can RSL take advantage of the Red Bulls who gave up 3 goals at Seattle last weekend? It won’t be easy but I love the creative play of our 3 forwards last week and expect more of the same.
Play Smart/Stay Smart – OK folks what did we learn last weekend? Well some (maybe most) MLS officials are a bit off their rocker and if you give them a chance to make a call some of them will jump all over it, and if they miss a call you better not say anything to them. So play smart, don’t commit fouls in silly placers on the pitch, don’t leave your feet or raise your studs when going for 50/50 balls. Stay smart, don’t argue, don’t put your hands on another player when the ball is dead, and if you get a yellow play even smarter and don’t risk it.
Just Deal With It – Yeah your coach got fired, yeah your captain is suspended, yeah your new DP is on national team duty & so is your all time MLS best keeper, you can either use the built in excuses or you can do something about it. You can step up and show that you are ready to make your mark, you can be a professional and do your best to get your team a win when almost nobody thinks you can do it.
Players to Watch:
Luis Silva – RSL – Well in his second stint with RSL Silva has seen 81 minutes of action and to be honest I wasn’t overly impressed. Silva reminds me so much of a bit older Luis Gil, a guy who has shown potential but failed to find a way to really deliver on that potential. So what better chance for Silva to step up and show that he can be a difference maker and thus force you to give him more minutes, than when a lot of key guys are injured? If Luis gets off to a slow start don’t be surprised if we get an appearance by Jose Hernandez who has had a lot of folks talking about how impressive he has looked in practices.
Fredrik Gulbrandsen – NYRB – He has seen limited minutes but he brings a ton of European experience with him and has scored 21 goals in his last 51 matches before joining the Red Bulls and will now look to open his MLS account. He is another one of those younger players to join MLS from Europe in their prime not at the end of it, in the limited minutes he has seen so far this season it looks like he is still adjusting a bit to the league but you can see he has some serious skills.
I want to believe, really I do and I think RSL will make a go of it, but I don’t see us getting a result missing this many pieces and with this much change around the club. A 3-1 loss wouldn’t surprise me in the least but again this is MLS and if a couple guys can step up anything can happen.
That’s How I See It!