Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Final Thoughts on Red Bulls Match

I've been avoiding this, but I thought I'd finally share some of my thoughts on the debacle in New York.

First of all, these things do happen in soccer, but it doesn't make them less disappointing. With a 30-game schedule you can expect 3 or 4 of these games, and usually on the road.

My concern with this match is that I'm not yet sure that what we witnessed was a one-off. There were some key differences with the opener against Seattle, but also some eery similarities.

Differences From Seattle Match
  • The crowd: The Seattle crowd was a big part of that match, the New York crowd was well, non-existant.
  • The opponent: Seattle has demonstrated that they have put together a quality team. On the other hand New York had not scored a goal for themselves on the season, and had looked quite miserable in the process.
  • Man advantage: RSL had a significant amount of time with a man advantage in this match, but couldn't score.
Similarities To Seattle Match
  • Early goal: any time you give up an early goal, you obviously end up chasing the game, and it can be difficult to salvage points.
  • Defensive lapses: Usually when goals are suffered, there are reasons for it. This was no exception and David Horst seemed to catch the brunt of it, but it was a poor defensive effort all the way around.
  • Too Little Too Late: In both matches, RSL played much better in the second half. This can be deceiving however, as teams with two goal leads tend to let their foot off the pedal.
  • Finishing: In both chances, RSL had their opportunities, especially in the second half. However, the team wasn't able to finish some prime goal scoring possibilities.
So is this a sign that RSL is bound to be the miserable road team that they were last season? Does this mean that the team is going to suffer the same finishing woes of a year ago? Is RSL '09 a 10-10-10 team again?

I think the answer is clearly, no. There are many more positives in the team's favor this time around. The system is in place, everybody knows their roles, the talent is better, and they have had a taste of a winning mentality. I expect there will still be some spurts and sputters this season, but I still believe that this is a 50-point team.

I just hope that there aren't any more of these stinkers along the way.