You can blame the coaching change, you can blame the injuries, you can blame whatever you want to blame but none of it will change the simple reality that RSL is on the rocks more than any time since 2007. Thirteen matches in with just three wins, two draws and eight losses, at home RSL is two – three – one. We lost 4 home matches during the entire 2015 and 2012 seasons the most of any season since moving to Rio Tinto in 2008 and now in just six matches we sit on the edge of tying that mark. I would say if RSL fans wanted to help their team out a flurry of paper snowflakes might help out given it seems the most likely trend we have is winning in snow this season.
Can RSL fins any sign of life on Saturday when the red hot Philadelphia Union come to town? The Union were winless in their first eight matches but now have four straight wins under their belts and look like a contender for the first time this year. Scoring woes continue to haunt RSL with just 11 goals scored in 13 matches while giving up 24, even at home RSL has a minus two goal differential with nine goals allowed and just seven scored. It is likely that RSL will get back Tony Beltran at least to the 18 man roster but with the suspension of Kyle Beckerman and continuing injuries to several players along with the U20 World Cup callups the roster will be thin once again.
Key to the Match:
Score – If you need any more explanation than that, well you simply haven’t been paying attention. Yura is mad at not starting, but hasn’t produced the way it was expected but to be fair his play comes from good service and the reality is there hasn’t been much of that this year. Plata is confusing, we know he has talent but his head and feet seem elsewhere since the middle of last season. That puts a ton of pressure on newcomers Davarino and Rusnak, both have shown the spark the team needs but we have to have a consistent effort on both sides of the ball to give the offense room to attack, nobody fears our offense so they can press as high as they want.
Players to Watch:
Yura Movsisyan & Joao Plata – For very different reasons this tandem of strikers have a whole lot to deliver, both were rewarded with great high paying contracts by RSL, both were given a chance to become legends for the Claret & Cobalt and both haven’t lived up to the expectations of themselves, their teammates, their coaches or their fans. Chances don’t come often in MLS and when they do you have to capitalize.
The top scorer for the Union has played 931 minutes, taken 26 shots and put 16 of them on goal, C.J. Sapong has 8 goals and 2 assists. Joao Pata has played 629 minutes, taken 21 shots and put 7 of them on goal and has 0 goals and 1 assist. Yura Movsisyan has played 893 minutes, taken 23 shots and put 9 of them on goal and scored 4 goals and has 0 assists. If you want to be a star, you must deliver the goods. It is time for Yura and Joao to put whatever else is going on in their lives to the side for 90 minutes on Saturday and rediscover the joy of football.
Jim Curtin – This Philadelphia Union team has two DP’s on their roster, Maurice Adu and Alejandro Bedoya, Adu has been out all season with an injury and Bedoya has played all 1080 minutes for the Union. This is a team not focused on their DP’s, but a team that plays as a team, a collection of players each finding a way to make Jim Curtin look like a genius. Nine different players have scored goals, 5 players have assists and 20 different players have seen action for them with 18 different players having started at least one match. While their 4-4-4 record isn’t even enough to move them above the red line in the Eastern Conference, their 4 straight wins is tied for the best active streak in MLS right now, with the Chicago Fire and only TFC has a longer streak this season.
RSL Starting Lineup:
Beltran – Maund – Schuler – Wingert
Sunny – Luke – Rusnak
Jefferson – Yura – Plata
This is as close to a first choice lineup as RSL probably has had all year.
You are at home against an opponent you have never lost to, you have most of your first choice players healthy, it should be a no brainer. In 9 matches against the Union only once has it been a 0-0 draw, every other match you have scored at least one goal. Any other season I would probably pick this as a 2-0 or 2-1 RSL win without even thinking about it much, but so far this hasn’t been any other season.
So how do you predict a match for a team that has played it’s best for maybe one half all season? If RSL can get out of the first 30 minutes without giving up a goal they have a realistic chance at getting a result, RSL have given up 10 of their 24 goals in the first 30 minutes of matches so far this season. If we get to the second half level the match statistically becomes much better for RSL who have scored 8 of their 11 in the second half and given up 11 of their 24 goals allowed in the second half. This match simply comes down to the reality if RSL can score a goal they likely can get a result but with just 3 shutouts in 13 matches and historically only 2 shutouts in 9 against Philly, a goal is a must. I see this one being a 1-1 draw but you never know which RSL side will show up, it is time for some consistency, time for some results.
That’s How I See It!