When you have 10 losses before the halfway point of the season things aren’t going right, so no matter what lineup you put out, whatever the mix of first team, second team or USL guys you play, a win in a must.
I am always appalled this time of year at how the US Open Cup gets treated, it should be one of the most popular soccer tournaments in the US, it should be on TV and heavily marketed for it’s unique nature and David vs Goliath appeal. With MLS not caring, they would rather revive Super Liga in an attempt to win over Liga MX fans, it is no surprise that most MLS teams stack their rosters with reserves.
Now fast forward to RSL’s season were after 16 matches RSL is 4-10-2 and are statistically the worst team in the league, most loses (10), highest goal differential (-20) and worst points per game (0.88). A break of 10 days between an embarrassing 6-2 loss to FC Dallas and their US Open Cup match against Sacramento United FC on Wednesday should have provided plenty of time for self reflection, tactical adjustments, injury recovery for some, integration back of U20 players back into team. We should see a team hungry to get some type of result against a side that should be easy pickings, a chance for our forwards who have struggled for goals to get some confidence. A chance for defenders to figure out what has gone wrong so often this year for them, but I expect that will be the last thing that we see.
I expect that we will probably see a mixed lineup of guys from RSL’s reserves and USL guys, because that is what we most often get at the US Open Cup. What I think it should be is a lineup full of guys on the bubble, guys who simply for whatever reason haven’t performed this year for RSL, guys who may find themselves on the trading block in a couple weeks. Listen almost every guy on the RSL roster has a level of talent to make it in MLS, either as a starter or as a guy who contributes off the bench, I have no doubt of this. However you can’t argue that something is very, very wrong with RSL, it isn’t that we have only won 4 matches, it is the 10 losses. 5 other teams in the league have just 4 wins, 5 more have only one more win at 5, and 3 more are sitting with just 2 more wins than RSL at 6. Troublesome is the 35 goals allowed the most in the league and the just 15 goals scored the 3rd lowest total in the league.
Fans have questioned decisions since the end of last year, the situations with Javi and Burrito left a lot of questions, as did the contract extension for Jeff Cassar. This year the firing of Jeff just 4 matches into the season, the appearance of a premeditated hiring of Mike Petke, the new contracts for Joao and Yura, and a roster that could almost put out a full 11 from players who spent time with our academy. The slow starts, the embarrassing losses, the appearance of a lack of effort, heart and passion all haunt RSL at the midpoint of their season. Imagine a loss in our first round of the US Open Cup, against a lower division team that the Monarchs have already beaten?
So yeah the US Open Cup mean little to most MLS teams, RSL’s efforts over the years in the tournament have been a mixed bag at best, but this isn’t most years, this isn’t a typical RSL and this match could have a huge impact on how fans react to the team heading into a busy, heated summer. Can RSL use the Open Cup to regain some momentum, to give fans something to cheer about, to regain some respect within the league? I hope so because at the halfway point things aren’t looking very good.
That’s How I See It!