Monday, August 24, 2009

Thoughts on Sunday's loss at New England

Well, I was expecting a loss at New England. That part wasn't surprising. What was surprising is how easily New England carved up RSL's defense. Kheli Dube looked like a player that should be considering offers from major clubs in Europe, not like the reserve striker that he is in MLS. However, I think there a few reasons for this:
  • This game reinforced just how important Olave is for this team. Now that he has the suspension for accumulation out of the way - he needs to make sure that he keeps himself on the field for the team.
  • RSL clearly was trying to be more aggressive in this game, throwing the outside backs forward much more than any other time since the switch to the 4-3-3.
  • Both Beckerman and Johnson pushed higher in this game than in the past. Each of them were seen in the final 3rd quite frequently. At times they both pushed forward in tandem as well, leaving the team exposed for counter-attacks (although I don't think this was the case on any of the goals but I haven't reviewed it yet).

Rachid El Khalifi had a below average performance (of course so did much of the team). However, there were some good signs:

  • He delivered a couple of excellent corners, and at least one good cross.
  • He was fairly active, getting back to defend and mostly floating out wide, but also cutting in centrally at times.
  • He missed a couple of prime chances at goal simply because he cut off his run too early.
  • He's quicker than I expected.

The injury to Javier Morales was especially unfortunate since Mathis was sitting out for his silly red card. I believe Mathis would have been a better option than Andy Williams. Andy hasn't shown great form in the chances he's gotten this year. He also has been nursing an injury (hamstring, I think).

Finally, it all comes down to finishing. New England had 4 or 5 good chances and put away 3 of them. Real Salt Lake had 4 or 5 good chances and slopped one in late in the game. This team creates plenty of chances, but they just can't deliver. That's really been the story of the season for RSL.

This game reinforced why this team will not make the playoffs this year. The loss itself had little affect on the likelihood of making the playoffs, as I had this one chalked up as a loss anyway. However, this game exemplified how un-competitive RSL has been on the road this year. And at this stage road points are required (at least 5 in my opinion) in order to make the playoffs.