Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Real World Review

A Real World Review
By Charles Barnard (aka CCB1212)

Last Weeks Results: 0-0 draw at home against Houston

Record: 5-6-5

Points: 20

Key Developments: The week started off with the news that Matias Cordoba was leaving the team to head back to Argentina. Thursday found RSL continuing to struggle putting balls into the back of the net leading to another 0-0 tie at home. And by the end of the week, the top six teams in the Western Conference are only separated in the standings by 3 points.

What’s Right in the Real World?: The defense continues to be the shining star for RSL. Between the play of the back four and Nick Rimando, the defense has been pretty dominating at home this year only giving up 6 goals in 9 league games. Only two teams all year have scored more than one goal in a game against RSL in league play and the last time it occurred was two months ago. Jamison Olave continues to be the rising star along the back line as he dominates the opposing strikers. Olave along with Nat Borchers shut down the potent attack of Dwayne De Rosario and Brian Ching.

The other piece of good news was the return of Ian Joy. Joy received his first start in some time and played pretty well throughout the course of the game. After all that he has gone through since coming to the team, it was really great to see him back on the pitch.

What’s Wrong in the Real World?: The biggest problem with the team continues to be scoring. RSL controlled the first 70 minutes of the match against Houston and had many good opportunities to score but still could not find the back of the net. Kenny Deuchar had multiple chances but could not break out of his scoring slump. But the blame can’t just be put at the fumbling feet of Deuchar. Kyle Beckerman missed on two wonderful chances and Robbie Findley and Andy Williams both missed putting some good chances on frame. And after Deuchar and Williams came out of the game, the offense grounded to a halt. I don’t believe that RSL had one shot on goal after Deuchar was subbed off. Tino Nunez didn’t offer much to the game and Yura Movsisyan continues to be unimpressive in league matches while dominating in reserve league games (he had hat trick against the Dynamo Reserve team).

The main excitement from the match came in the 90th minute when Chris Wingert got into a confrontation with Houston’s De Rosario and Corey Ashe. Even though the replay shows that De Rosario pushed Wingert first, Wingert retaliated and received a red card. Ashe only received a yellow on the play and De Rosario did not receive a card.

During Coach Kreis’ press conference, he made many comments about the officiating of the match. In reference to some of the controversial calls at home, he said “I’m tired of it. I’m exasperated. I’ve just absolutely had it up to my head.” He went on to say that he feels that every week that the team plays at home, he feels like they are playing away. Many people believe that these latest comments directed towards the referees will lead to another fine and possibly another suspension for the coach.

RSL also missed another opportunity to move into first place in the standings. A win would have jumped them past the Galaxy. This is the third time this season that the team just had to win to move into first place. In those three games, they have lost twice and now tied once. To make matters worse, with the Chivas last second win over San Jose, the Goats have now jumped over RSL into a tie with the Galaxy for first. Colorado’s win over the Red Bulls puts them only one point behind RSL. The West is as tight as can be and with a strong Eastern Conference, the possibility is very real that only the top three teams in the West will make the playoffs. RSL needs every point it can get and missing out on three points at home really hurts.

A Brief Look at the Week Ahead: The coming week has two home games for RSL. The first is an international friendly against Mexican champion Santos Laguna on Wednesday night. Santos Laguna is lead by goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez who is the current starting goal keeper for the Mexican National Team. Throughout its team history, RSL has played very well against international teams including a win against Everton and a draw against Boca Jr. last year.

On Saturday, the Columbus Crew comes into Rice-Eccles to play RSL. Columbus is currently second in the Eastern Conference with 27 points. They are coming off a draw against Chicago last week. Due to his red card against Houston, RSL will be with out Chris Wingert. This could be a big loss for the team as Wingert has been a very solid player out of the back for RSL. I would assume that we will see both Tony Beltran and Ian Joy on the back line along with Olave and Borchers. Unless RSL finds its scoring touch, the team might be lucky to get out of Saturday night with another draw.

Final Thoughts: I believe that we are coming up on a couple of very important weeks for RSL. They are currently in the playoff hunt, but it will not be easy. Only six of their last 14 games are at home. They either have to get every point that they can while they are at home, or they have to start getting more points than they have been on the road (preferably both).

The team has to start putting balls into the back of the net. Deuchar has been doing everything we could ask for while he is out on the field except scoring goals. But the team has to have him start scoring if they will make the playoffs. As has been said in the past, the return of Fabian Espindola can not come quick enough. His return will give the team much needed depth on the front line.

Speaking of depth, the team overall is lacking in it at this point in the season. With the departure of Cordoba, the team has two open rosters spots. Along with that, the injury bug has kept Espindola and Nate Sturgis off the field for long periods of time. It is vital for General Manager Garth Largerway to bring in some new players during the summer transfer window to shore up this problem with depth. Players are allowed to be signed starting on the 15th of July.