Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thoughts on RSL loss at Chivas

Well, another road game, another road loss. What a surprise, huh?

Actually, though, this one was a bit different. This was the first road game where I felt like RSL was actually in this contest from start to finish. Let's review the 4 RSL road losses and you'll see what I mean:

@ Seattle: 0-2. Seattle clearly outplays RSL in the first half. RSL plays better in the second half, but gives up a 2nd goal. Seattle scored in the 17th minute and the 77th minute. Movsisyan has a couple of chances, but can't finish them. Total shots slightly favor RSL: 13 to 12.

@ New York: 0-2. Worst performance of the year by RSL in my opinion. RSL fans blame Horst for this one, but it was a dismal performance all around. New York just isn't a quality opponent and they handled us easily. They scored in the 2nd minute and in the 57th minute. Real Salt Lake dominated in the shot department 20-11, but couldn't put one away.

@ Colorado: 0-2. This one featured a couple of glaring defensive lapses. Colorado is shaping up to be a good team, but RSL made their goals look easy. They scored in the 11th and 60th minute. Game highlighted by Rimando injury, Olave red card, and Morales elbow that would turn into a suspension. RSL only managed 7 shots in this one while giving up 10.

@ Chivas: 0-1. Most competitive road match of the season for RSL as they were in it right up until the final whistle. Took a more defensive approach in this one until late in 2nd half. Held off Chivas until the 57th minute when Chivas scored off of a blown clearance attempt by Beckerman. Didn't allow Chivas' midfield to dominate like they like to do, and kept the speed of Braun and Galindo in check for the most part. Only managed 10 shots which is a concern, but not surprising given their opening posture. A bit unlucky not to get a draw in this one. I know fans don't like this, but I think if RSL continues to play smart and yes - a bit conservative - on the road they'll get a draw or two and this will help them to regain their road confidence. They can then open it back up on the road. But right now they need to figure out how to overcome the psychological block that they seem to have playing on the road. Next road game is at DC United, after playing at home on Saturday against Kansas City.

Other thoughts:
  • Despite the pleas of others to sit Yura, I had been holding out. But I think you've got to start Findley and Espindola in this next game. He had a disappointing game against the Galaxy, and struggled again at Chivas. I hate to give up on him, because that will put a big dent in his confidence, and we will need him this season, but I just think it's time.
  • Speaking of Espindola. I hope that RSL doesn't give up on the 4-5-1 on the road. I like the idea of keeping the outside backs in place on the road, but the offensive thrust out of this formation needs to improve. I think that Espy can do a better job of holding up the ball and bringing his teammates into the attack.
  • Olave was the one player that I thought had an excellent game against Chivas. He made several plays that were stellar and didn't have any of his patented mental lapses. I'm cautiously confident that Olave will turn the corner this season and really cut down on the blunders.
  • I'm getting a little more comfortable having Seitz in net. I thought he made a couple of really good plays out around the edge of the box (and sacrificed his body to do it). I also thought he did well sniffing out corner kicks. Despite his credentials I didn't think he had great outings for RSL in the past (either in league play, open cup or exhibitions). He only has 5 saves and has given up 3 goals, but I think we'll see those stats improve as he gets a couple of more games under his belt.