Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thoughts on RSL/Seattle Match

It was good for RSL to get back on the winning side last night. A win at home again next week against Houston could get them back in the thick of things for the playoffs as a couple of teams are starting to sputter.

They came out very out-of-sync. They appeared to be very reluctant to push too far forward as they looked concerned with Seattle's potent attack. Clint Mathis in particular was playing behind the ball, making the formation resemble more of a lop-sided 4-4-2 than a true 4-3-3.

Speaking of Mathis, he was the reason for the stench coming from the pitch in the first half. A stinker, a howler, whatever you want to call it - not his best effort for RSL last night. Robin Fraser made the correct call with his substitution (although I was half expecting it to come at the half). He mis-connected on several passes and his timing was completely off all night long. The early yellow, and consistently testing the referee for a potential second yellow on dissent didn't help matters any.

Overall RSL was not connecting offensively in the first half, despite having some players putting in good efforts. They were, however, solid defensively against a very prodigious Seattle attack.

However, RSL kicked it up a notch in the 2nd half. Javier Morales was sensational in the midfield with great effort defensively and several great setups for his teammates, and some clever footwork to keep possession in the late stages.

Fabian Espindola put in some good work. He is a handful for the defense because he has a good combination of tenacity and quality out left. He also busted his butt to get back defensively, which hasn't always been his forte.

Findley, of course, created havoc for the opponent with his pace and scored the only goal. I've started to wonder if Findley may benefit from Yura's absence, because Yura spends so much time on the ball in the final 3rd.

Of course, Rimando was spectacular and his distribution to Findley was nearly perfect. He also was up to the challenge whenever Seattle did manage to get a shot off, which was infrequent.

Rachid had a decent showing as well, especially for his first time out. He got off a good cross, but he blew an easy chance, and gave the ball away a couple of times. I'm sure as he gets more chances, these things will work themselves out.

However, the stars of the match in my mind were the two center backs: Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave. Steve Zakuani: they neutralized him. Freddie Ljungberg: they dealt with him. Fredy Montero: stiffled. Nate Jacqua: puh-leeze! No matter what happened they dealt with it. They were simply spectacular against one of the more explosive offensive teams in the league.

Overall - a good match, but they need to figure out how to put it together for a full 90 - both home and on the road. A nice run over the next few weeks could erase the lackluster start to the season.