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RSL gets Beckham’d

May 4, 2008

Well, it seems as though the same old RSL story is being told again. A 2-0 lead is brought down by the great David Beckham. And yet, I don’t have the same bitter taste. We dominated possession, we had the better chances, we even took them better, but apparently it’s not enough. I really can’t figure out why this team isn’t getting the results it deserves. I think our defense played very solid, the Olave/Borchers central back pairing worked very well. We contained Donovan the entire time, he was practically a zero factor. The problem was that when someone came out of their midfield, we found it more difficult to contain them (see Beckham goal #1). But that’s something that we need to work on. Our midfield played with pace and control. There were even a few fancy footwork things, which is what makes RSL so much fun to watch. The forward line had their best game thus far. We had scoring opportunities being worked on by both forwards, and not just the midfield. The Deuchar/Espindola combo is what seems to work best, and once they’re both up to 100%, we’ll have a killer front line. Now individual players:

  • Nick Rimando (8): Nicky had a great game, and the two goals were unstoppable. Made a great save on Donovan’s one chance.
  • Tony Beltran (8): Tony is easily my favorite defensive player on RSL. He’s doing really well for himself considering all the doubts that people have had about him. I like how he can get into the attack and still gets back every time. He’ll be a great addition for years to come, and deserves that starting spot.
  • Nat Borchers (6): Nat was solid again, but he didn’t seem to be himself the entire game. His little stumble over the ball toward the end of the first half scared me, but hopefully we won;t see much more of that.
  • Jamison Olave (7): Olave’s size and speed are a huge asset to our defense. I really like this guy. He doesn’t have the best feet, but his defensive positioning makes up for it. I think he should start the rest of the season.
  • Chris Wingert (5): Wingert has been below his regular standard recently. Beckham’s first goal could have been prevented if Wingert would have just stepped up instead of hesitating. I hope he picks it up soon, or I might have to slide Joy into this spot again.
  • Dema Kovalenko (7): I thought Dema did a great job in the D-Mid position. He didn’t make any bad giveaways like we’ve seen from Talley, and held the midfield well. This just seemed like a more natural position for him. I loved the hack-fest going on between him and Franchino all night.
  • Kyle Beckerman (8): The heart and soul of our midfield. Don’t know what we’d be without him.
  • Andy Williams (6): HIs age seems to be a little bit of a burden, as he can’t really keep running as long as the other guys. And yet, Andy still makes an impact in every game, and makes fans want more.
  • Javier Morales (7): Javi’s offensive prowess brings a lot to this team. He’s a great distributor of the ball. I think what he really needs is to be more consistent with his set pieces, he overshot a few, and then underhit a bunch too.
  • Kenny Deuchar (8): I like this guy more and more every game. His goal was great. The disallowed goal was a poor call, he was clearly onside. I think he was a good pickup by Garth.
  • Fabian Espindola (7): He played a great game, even with the nagging injury. The goal he scored was a great touch that played well with the turf. When he’s back to 100%, he’ll be great.
Subs:
  • Robbie Findley (5): His touch was better than it has been recently, but he’s still not the player I remember from last year. We need him to pick it up.
  • Yura Movsisyan (4): Yura has not been great at all this season. He can’t pick up his head when he has the ball, which is a huge problem for him. His skill at taking players on is all I really like about him.
  • Matias Cordoba (7): Didn’t see much of him, but I think that when he gets in the groove, he’ll get some good time.
Next game I’d like to see something really similar to this lineup. Wingert could be replaced by Joy, depending on how practices go. I’d like to see a little more of Cordoba next week. Beltran for president.
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RSL returns to RFK

April 26, 2008

Jameson Olave

Hey everyone. First off, I’d like to apologize for my lack of updates recently. I’ve been pretty busy with some other stuff. But the point is, I’m back and ready to go. So here it comes.

 

After RSL’s disappointing loss to Toronto last week, they should be hoping for a good performance against DC United, a team they’ve crushed once already this season. This time around, however, I find a win to be a lot less likely. First of all, RSL has suddenly lost 3-4 players to injury. James Edward of the Deseret News says that Fabian Espindola, Matias Mantilla, Yura Movsisyan, and Nathan Sturgis are all nursing injuries and might not be able to play. This brings down the options in the forward position, so too much of the game will have to rely on the recently disappointing Robbie Findley and Dr. Deuchar. Another problem is that with the absence of Sturgis, the only player left in that D-Mid position is old man Talley, the very man who single-handedly gave up two goals against Chivas. The addition of Talley alone becomes a major threat on our defense, something we didn’t have to face last time we played DC.

 

This game should show us more of what DC is made of. Last game, DC coach Tom Soehn decided to sit newcomers Marcello Gallardo and Gonzalo Martinez as well as the lead goalkeeper Zach Wells. These three players, who will likely play this week, provide a whole new level of talent for DC. They strengthen DC’s field in every aspect. Offensively, Gallardo will give service to the very talented DC forwards, and will pose a threat to Nick Rimando and the defense in front of him. Defensively, Martinez will eliminate the three man backline that Soehn tried against RSL in the last encounter. RSL’s forwards will have to work a lot harder to get through this suddenly solid defense. Zach Wells will be able to stop much more, and won’t have jitters like Jose Carvallo did.

 

Depsite all these factors, RSL still may have some positive things to find. This game may be the first we see of Jameson Olave, the Colombian center back that Kreis and Co. signed in the offseason, over Matias Mantilla, who’s nursing an ankle injury. After seeing him in practice a few times, I’m ecstatic to see Olave finally on the field. He’s a huge guy, with some good feet under him. He’ll look like a giant out there. Due to Ian Joy’s poor performances in past weeks, we may see Tony Beltran in the starting lineup as well. Beltran, although not the biggest player, will provide great speed and may even get into the offense a bit. He and Wingert on the wide-backs should prove to be a great combination.

 

Here’s my speculated lineup:

————-Rimando————–

–Beltran—Olave–Borchers–Wingert–

————–Talley—————

—-Kovalenko——–Beckerman——

————-Morales—————

———Findley—-Deuchar———

 

The thing I find most concerning about this lineup is the front line. So far this season, I haven’t liked the Findley/Deuchar combination at all. But with the looming injuries to Movsisyan and Espindola, there isn’t much else we can go with. I think RSL will have trouble scoring goals, while Talley will leave the middle of the field for DC to control. For RSL to win this game, they have to be on top of everything. They’ll have to play some masterful soccer on the road. My money’s on a loss in this one.

 

2-1 DC.

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Blanco gets RSL again…here we go again…

March 30, 2008

Well, it’s the beautiful beginning of another season, and it seems like we celebrate it the same way every time. SURPRISE! We have up a goal in stoppage time and lost two points. However, this year I find comfort in our play before the goal. We controlled the game in the midfield and our defense shut down their front line (no matter who was put in there). The one thing that lacked seriously? The finishing. Just like I’ve mentioned in the past, RSL has serious issues with it’s front line. The problem was addressed by Garth Lagerway when we signed Scottish striker Kenny Deuchar, but I’m afraid, as evidenced by this game, that his signing still doesn’t fix it (although it does improve it). The finishing is the thing that will determine our season’s turnout, whether it be like the past three years, or a new tradition of winning. Time to look at the players:

  •  Nick Rimando: Nick wasn’t tested very much last night, but I found that when the ball was coming into his general area, he was intently watching and positioning himself with the ball. It’s just too bad that the shot that scored came at the time it did, when Rimando couldn’t see.
  • Chris Wingert: Despite some of my comments from last year, I actually really enjoy watching Chris Wingert play. His constant runs up the sideline are entertaining, and he actually has some great skill on the ball. It was his poor clearance that caused the goal, which is something that should never happen at this level.
  • Matias Mantilla: Matias is just as solid, if not more solid, than he was last year. He’s not afraid to go after a ball, and his tenacity in his challenges often win him the ball.
  • Nat Borchers: I thought Nat was really solid in his first game with RSL. His positioning ability is spectacular, and he’s not bad in the air either. Nice pickup.
  • Ian Joy: I was really pleased with Ian’s performance today. His defensive stance (which I noticed on a defensive run forward) makes it nearly impossible for a player to get by. I thought he brought exactly what he needed to.
  • Carey Talley: I still don’t think Carey deserves to be on the field. He didn’t play too badly, but I thought he lost the ball in times when he should have easily given it to a teammate.
  • Andy Williams: Andy is the thing that keeps possession alive on this team. His vision of the field is fantastic, and his fancy footwork entertain everyone. I hope to see Andy get a lot more time this year.
  • Kyle Beckerman: Beckers is the heart of the fight in RSL. He’s tenacious, which, combined with his skill level, makes him a player of the highest caliber.
  • Javy Morales: Javy is a player very similar to Andy Williams. He’s our Number 10, and I think he will be for a couple more years. He’s just fun to watch and his attitude on the field is contagious. You can tell he enjoys his time on the field.
  • Yura Movsisyan: Yura didn’t have the most spectacular game last night, but I thought he served his purpose. He’s not a target forward, as his size suggests, but he still is able to do well in a forward position. I loved his attempt on goal from the bicycle kick.
  • Fabi Espindola: Fabi is a speedy forward with amazing moves. I think if he were paired with Dr. Goals, they would be a great combination of size and skill.
Subs:
  • Dema Kovalenko: Dema made me laugh when he fouled a guy ten seconds after being subbed in, but that’s his hard-headed character. It was his cross that caused the own goal, and I think his offensive runs were very dangerous. He should start over Talley. 
  • Robbie Findley: I thought Robbie’s speed brought a lot to the game. I didn’t see him get many chances, so I don’t know how his finishing would have been, but I thought he worked well with the midfield. When he first subbed in, Robbie seemed to be first touching everything, I think I’d rather see him take a guy on than find a player everytime he got the ball.
  • Kenny (Dr. Goals) Deuchar: For the time he had on the field, I think Kenny showed a lot of the talent he has. He won every single ball in the air, and I think that he’ll be a valuable asset on corners. He wasn’t as clumsy as the Scottish BigSoccer posters made him out to be…
Overall, not a bad performance. I think the defense kept it’s shape throughout the entire game, even when Blanco took that ridiculous shot. Speaking of that shot, I don’t think there was much that could have been done to prevent it. The clearance from Wingert could have gone better, but the marking we had going was right for the play that was going on at that time. Blanco took that shot first-touch, so there was no time at all for a defender to get there, and Rimando had no chance at saving the perfect corner hit. The least I can do is applaud Blanco for the goal. 
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RSL finally addressing it’s striker issues

February 26, 2008
  • Yes, RSL has finally shown that they realize what this team needs, a good striking force that can beat opponents in the air, on the ground, and anywhere on the field. We’ve finally made a run for a target forward by offering a contract to an obscure Scot named Kenny Deuchar. This guy is big (6’3″), and he has tons of experience. He’s a great goal scorer and currently plays for Gretna FC in Scotland, a second division side. In fact, Deuchar has spent his entire career in lower division league. The most interesting part of this acquisition, to me, is that Kenny Deuchar is a practicing doctor. He wants to be able to practice medicine in America and play soccer here. This concerns me, as well as many other fans. I wonder if his loyalties will remain with soccer, or with medicine. This also explains Garth’s recent trip to Scotland to ‘scout players’.
  •  Another thing that I found interesting is that RSL has extended the Singaporean star Indra Sahdan Daud’s trial. This guy is the golden child of football in Singapore, and RSL has already gained many fans from him just trialing with us. In the first six days of his trial, James Edward said that Indra’s chances of making the team were slim, however, his last two days have been spectacular. Those two days were enough to make RSL extend his trial, which will carry into the Argentina leg of the preseason. I really hope this guy makes the team, he has so much support from his countrymen and I just feel hopeful that he’ll get a contract and play well with this team.
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Kotschau waived, is Talley next?

February 24, 2008

James Edward announced today that RSL has waived Ritchie Kotschau, but he also includes a little tidbit about our friend Carey Talley who broke his foot in pre-season camp. Many of us RSL fans know the terror that is Carey Talley, and many expect to see him waived this offseason. I think that with this injury, the waiving becomes inevitable. We have six rookies in camp this year that have been spectacular. Kevin Reiman and Brennan Tennelle will likely be the two starting wing-mids on our reserve squad. Tino Nunez, who we picked up in the supplemental draft, has scored goals and given assists in almost every game this pre-season. Tony Beltran is a candidate for starting in our right mid spot, with David Horst competing in the middle. Alex Nimo is the next great American Superstar. In the pre-season camp roster, I see way too many talented players to be waived to make room for old man Talley. My advice? Waive the man. If you find someone that you want to waive during the season, then pick him back up. The acquisition of Dema Kovalenko is also a sign that Talley may be waived soon.  He plays the same positions as Talley, albeit better than him too. We’re paying Talley too much for him to be falling so far down the ladder, and I think we could get some quality talent for that kind of money. Many use the excuse of Talley’s 2006 season, which was, and I will admit it, spectacular. Behind Jeff Cunningham, Talley was easily the most exciting player to watch. Well, it’s been two years since we got Talley, and his most recent season was horrendous. So do we hope he had a bad season last year? Or do we just look at the facts, and notice that we sucked in 2006? This team is changing, and it’s time to let him go. 

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Dema Kovalenko joins RSL

February 22, 2008

  • RSL has added another player today, Dema Kovalenko, formerly of the New York Red Bulls. Dema has a reputation around the league of being one of the more violent players, which we’ve seen plenty of with Atiba Harris. Dema is a midfielder (gasp! another one!?!?) who is actually very versatile and can be played in many positions including D-Mid, Right-Mid and hopefully Left-Mid (that’s our weak spot). He won’t back down from any challenge, which is a trait that RSL has struggled with in recent years. Recently, however, Dema hasn’t been playing up to the level he did a few years ago. He’s still feisty as ever, but his play seems to have gone down. I hope that Coach Kreis can bring back his game, which will make this a great move for RSL. We only sent away a late-round draft pick in next years draft (according to this AYLSoccer article). I’d say our lineup looks a little something like this:
  • ————–Rimando————–
  • Mantilla-Borchers-Olave-Joy– 
  • ————Kovalenko————
  • –Cordoba———–Beckerman–
  • ————-Morales —————
  • —-Movsisyan—Espindola—– 
  • That lineup is fantastic from my point of view. The defense is all experienced and skilled players, our midfield can be swayed in either an attacking or defending position, and we don’t have two a-mids by accident (Mr. Adu). Our forward line is still young, but I think that Espindola has got the speed, touch, and skill to work well with Yura’s size and tenacity.  I think if we were to sign one more player before the season starts, it would be an experienced target forward to lead the team offensively.
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2008 League Predictions

February 18, 2008

With the lack of real soccer action going on in America right now, and a lack of new RSL news as well, I’ve decided that it’s finally time for my 2008 league predictions. These will undoubtedly change soon, but this is how I feel things will go down right now. Keep in mind that I don’t follow every team super-attentively, and I apologize for any misconceptions I may have.

  1.  DC United: DC is just an excellent club all around. With the acquisition of Marcello Gallardo and the return of Luciano Emilio, I can’t see DC anywhere but at the top of the league. Their midfield is slightly lacking, due to the loss of Christian Gomez, but I still think they’ll pull out an excellent year.
  2. New England Revolution: The Revolution have the best coach in MLS, hands down. Steve Nicol has led this team passionately for many years, and has brought about great success. They have lost Pat Noonan, but they picked up four excellent prospects in the SuperDraft which will help them on their way to victory.
  3. FC Dallas: Dallas has a solid club. The loss of Carlos Ruiz will effect their front line, which seems to have weakened a bit. However, their midfield and defensive arenas are spectacular and should provide solid service to a sub-par frontline. Duilio Davino will lead Dallas forward.
  4. Chivas USA: Chivas has improved tremendously ever since MLS great Preki has taken over as head coach. They are perhaps the team with the most talented young players in MLS, with Sacha Kljestan, Brad Guzan, Jonathan Bornstein, and Maykel Galindo. Expect to see a lethal striking force coming out of this team, and maybe even a cameo from Alecko Eskandarian.
  5. Houston Dynamo: Houston is the two-time defending MLS champ, and this is the year I believe they’ll fall off their high horse. They’ve lost both Joseph Ngwenya and Nate Jacqua to foreign lands and Brian Ching appears to be losing his touch. Their front line is now lacking tremendously, and you can’t win if you can’t score. Also, Dwayne de Rosario seems to think that the only time he needs to play is in crunch time, so the Canadian’s value may go down. Stewart Holden will be the stand out in the Houston midfield this season.
  6. New York Red Bulls: I struggle for a reason why I put New York so high up on the list, but I can only think of two. Those reasons are the young star Jozy Altidore and the returning Juan Pablo Angel. These two guys are a killer pair and should easily be the best striking pair in the league. Look for Francis Doe to pull it all out this season, and create endless chances for the aforementioned forwards.
  7. Real Salt Lake: This may seem like a surprise to some, but Real Salt Lake has put together a quality team this year. Head coach Jason Kreis has gone around the world looking for new talent and have picked up names like Ian Joy, Jamilson Olave, Matias Cordoba, and Nat Borchers. The strength and depth of RSL’s defense is now top class, perhaps even the best in the league. The weakest point in the lineup for Real is their forwards, which according to General Manager Garth Lagerway, is being addressed abroad right now.
  8. Chicago Fire: Chicago has been consistently sub-par in recent years, and I think they’ll continue this trend in 2008. Their front line, which will likely consist of forwards Chris Rolfe and Andy Herron does not look to great, however, their offense will be carried by the old man Cuatehmoc Blanco. Blanco was a great addition for the Fire last year, and will bring an exciting new level of play to Chicago again this year.
  9. Los Angeles Galaxy: Sure, LA has some spectacular players in Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Carlos Ruiz, and Abel Xavier, but just look at the rest of that roster! They’ll score ridiculous amounts of goals, but Steve Cronin‘s GAA will be somewhere near 3.65.
  10. Colorado Rapids: Fernando Clavijo‘s team has been lackluster, to say the least, in recent times. His roster has remained almost unchanged, with the exception of the additions of Jose Burciaga, Jr. and Christian Gomez, this offseason. Colorado has the worst front line in the league, with nobody but Herculez Gomez to lead the team. Luckily, Terry Cooke and Mehdi Ballouchy will get the offense going from the midfield.
  11. Kansas City Wizards: Even the Wizard’s fans can see that this year will be a severe disappointment. The departures of Eddie Johnson and Jose Burciaga, Jr. will leave a large hole in both ends of the field for Curt Onalfo‘s club. Look for #1 SuperDraft pick Chance Myers to be the defensive stand out for the Wizards.
  12. Columbus Crew: Even with the amazing skill of the Argentinian Guillermo Barros Schelotto leading the midfield, I have no doubt that Colubus will struggle to do well. The lineup for the Crew is too thin in every position, especially in the keeper position. Look for Frankie Hejduk and Eddie Gaven to hold the torch for the Crew, no matter how dim it may be burning.
  13. Toronto FC: On paper, Toronto’s roster looks to be fairly solid, mostly in the forward and midfield areas. However, the chemistry in the team seems to never fit right. If he ends up signing with TFC, look for Joe Lapira to make an instant impact. Also expect Jeff Cunningham, Maurice Edu, and Collin Samuel to be impact players. The defense is where this team lacks, and that’s the most critical of all the puzzle pieces.
  14. San Jose Earthquakes: The enthusiasm of the Earthquake fans reminds me of mine when RSL first came to town. I quickly learned that my optimism was misdirected. San Jose fans will find the same. Head Coach Frank Yallop is struggling to fill a roster, even if he must sign small caliber players to do it. Ramrio Corrales will lead the midfield, while Joe Cannon will be the one calling all the shots. Expect to see a lot of playing time for Gavin Glinton, the former Galaxy forward, and some good stuff from rookie Shea Salinas.
That, of course, leaves the final standings at:
 
1)DC UNITED
2)NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
3)FC DALLAS
4)CD CHIVAS USA
5)HOUSTON DYNAMO
6)NEW YORK RED BULLS
7)REAL SALT LAKE
8)CHICAGO FIRE
9)LOS ANGELES GALAXY
10) COLORADO RAPIDS
11)KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
12)COLUMBUS CREW
13)TORONTO FC
14)SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
 
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