RSL walked away from Livestrong Sporting Park with an incredibly valuable point. Here are my 15 thoughts on the match.
1. Atta’ boy Jeff! Attinella was huge in this game, in more than one way. When called upon, he made the save. In the first half especially, he was up to the task. One thing that really jumps out about Jeff in comparison to Rimando is his size. Who woulda thought? But I mean this more in the sense of owning his box with his size. For all the heroics Rimando can pull off with his springiness, Attinella can make himself just so much bigger. Easily the man of the match. Seriously, huge game from Jeff.
2. Chris Schuler had some massive tackles. RSL’s defense without him is rather average, but becomes one of the best in the league when he’s playing. His ability to win pretty much anything in the air is one thing. His lanky legs are another beast altogether. There were a few times in this game where Chris was beat but used his length to make a last-ditch tackle. His distribution still leaves a lot to be desired, but defensively speaking he is top-notch. PLEASE stay healthy.
3. The outside backs did their job. It wasn’t overly attractive soccer from Mansally or Balchan, but they can both say they started in KC and didn’t get scored on. That’s a huge notch on their belts. Very good outing from them. Mansally, in particular, did well to adjust at half to the pressure that had been coming his way during the first half. Balchan had the responsibility of Graham Zusi. To say you kept Zusi off the scoreboard for a guy with as many minutes as Balchan is a huge deal.
4. A rough going in the midfield. This game only had about 15-20 minutes where it felt like our midfield was being utilized properly. KC likes to bypass the middle of the pitch and get the ball from one end to the other quickly. We love to dink and dunk in the middle of the pitch before building. We never had a substantial amount of midfield play which led to our rather lackluster offensive night.
5. Luis Gil went back to ghost mode. After a solid match against TFC (my man of the match, in fact), Luis was a non-factor. I highlighted him as being a key player to this game if RSL was going to win. His struggling, in particular, really handicapped the RSL offense. A forgetful night from the youngster.
6. Garcia’s lack of chemistry with the team is concerning. The guy will bust his tail all game to cover ground. However, the chemistry with the team (simple passing) is really off. This was understandable for a few games, but it should show signs of improvement. It’s concerning that he hasn’t found a way to gel better with the midfield. This needs to improve or RSL will be in a world of hurt.
7. One shot on goal isn’t good enough. There are a lot of fingers being pointed on this. Some people want to blame Saborio, others Garcia, some even Gil and Grabavoy. The point is that the whole offensive side of RSL struggled in this game. We lacked the ability to press forward, and thus put our forwards on an island. The only times I can think of Saborio having the ball are when he had one defender on top of him and another defender closing. That isn’t going to produce results.
8. The red card was a pretty awful tackle. There was discussion on twitter on the red card being harsh. I am a bit shocked at this. This league isn’t doing itself favors by saying it’s a “possible red” if you go lunging in with your studs exposed high. That was a red card, no doubt. If you think it was harsh I’m a bit concerned what warrants a red in your mind.
9. Twitter shouldn’t be used by athletes right after a game. Dom Dwyer gave exhibit A in this. You’re going to have strong emotions after a tough game like this one was. There is no doubt in that. But to go spouting off at the opposing team is just moronic. Picking a twitter fight with the best goalkeeper in MLS is also a pretty moronic move. Dom Dwyer, put the phone down.
10. Kansas City was the better team. It’s the truth. If you had to pick one of the two sides, KC would get the nod. But that is the great (and sometimes awful) part of this sport. You can outplay or be outplayed but that doesn’t determine the points. How you take your chances does. KC, for all their shooting, couldn’t finish. RSL did enough to earn their point. No, we weren’t the better team, but we kept KC off the scoreboard. That was solid.
11. Getting a point at KC is a huge point for Jeff Cassar. We’re a bit spoiled here in RSL land because we look at this game and go “good job” instead of recognizing the feet that it was. This game was incredibly well-managed. The subs were well-timed. The switch in the back, the overall approach, etc. Cassar showed himself as a strong manager in this one. Well done, Jeff.
12. More rotation is needed. The average age of a lot of the “big” players on this team is above the 30 mark. Beckerman is 31, Rimando is 34, Morales is 34, Saborio is 32, Borchers is 32, etc. They can still play at this level, but they need more time to recover between games. If RSL wants to be competitive in October, Cassar has to rotate these guys. This game showed that giving youngsters a chance can pay off. The experience that Mansally, Attinella, and Balchan got in this game can’t be replicated in training. It’s massive.
13. Credit to Kyle for being a warrior. I know I just said rotation is needed for these older players, but credit needs to be given to Beckerman. The guy played 60+ minutes in Phoenix on Wednesday and then played the full 90 here. The guy is a beast. I would still like to see him possibly get a night off or at least only have to appear as a sub, but credit to the captain for his minutes.
14. Nobody had this team at 9 points after 5 games. It truly is a testament of the management ability of Jeff Cassar and the maturity of this team. To remain unbeaten and at 9 points is truly quite the feat. I have a felling it might end this weekend in Philly, but as of now we’re playing with house money. Well done, boys.
15. The Philly game this weekend feels like a trap game. Philly isn’t a “sexy” opponent like KC or LA. They aren’t going to draw the attention like those teams/matchups did. That said, Philly is good – especially at home – and could jump on this team if they aren’t prepared. One of the hardest things for a manager to do is to get the team up for a game after a previous big match. Cassar has to find a way to motivate the guys or else Philly will take advantage and end the unbeaten streak. This week is a big test for Cassar and his group.