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My contributions to this blog during the opening campaign of the 2013 season have been minimal due to heavy demands on my time from my other ventures and obligations.  While I wont likely have as much time to dedicate to the blog during this season it is my goal to try and provide less frequent but more meaningful content.

RSLvCol2 While this season perhaps has not had the most illustrious start and this new look RSL is still a work in progress, in todays post I would like to take a look at some encouraging trends I see in our stats to date during the 2013 season.  Keep in mind that the season is young and these stats may not hold out but we certainly hope they do.

It is no secret that RSL has struggled to find its former offensive potency it experienced in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.  I am of the opinion that much of this was due to a lack of cohesion and purpose based possession in the midfield which lead to much less action in the offensive third and far less shots on goal.  There of course are the simple facts that we also struggled to find the speed we needed to stretch defenses in our attack and also struggled to finish our chances.

Overall I think we are seeing more positive results in our offensive potency this season.  Despite the draw, Saturday’s match against Colorado was a fairly impressive display of what RSL can do when they play their possession based, attack fueled brand of soccer.  We must however take into account that Saturday’s numbers are somewhat skewed because Colorado itself is struggling to find its identity and really came in to the RioT to essentially sit back, defend and look for a chance on the counter which did give them a result on Saturday.

Lets take a look at some offensive stats for Saturday’s match.

First, if we look at the Opta Chackboard the majority of our ball possession was in/around the offensive third which is a great sign!

RSLvColPossession

RSL had 19 shots to Colorado’s 14.  Only 4 of ours were on frame to Colorado’s 6.  Of course getting shots on goal and in dangerous positions will contribute to us finishing more of chances thus more goals but just the increase in shots themselves is encouraging.  There were matches last season when we struggled to muster 4 or 5 shots.  While we didn’t play our best match at DC a week ago we had 9 shots compared to their 10.  And at San Jose we had 14 attempts on goal.  Not terrible stats for our first few road games.

RSLvCol4In the Colorado match we had a whopping 25 open play crosses compared to their 4, literally 3 to 4 times what we had in many matches last season.   At DC we had 13 to their 5 and at San Jose we had 12 to their 16.  San Jose’s bread and butter last year were open play crosses; they lived and died by this kind of service to Wondo, Lenhart and Gordon.   Not bad to have hung close to a team that has grown so proficient at this while we were on the road.

Against Colorado RSL marshaled an impressive 603 passes with a more impressive 88.1% passing accuracy and a massive 69.2% possession.  At DC and San Jose those stats were 421, 73.9%, 52.6% and 411, 79.1% and 51.3% respectively.   All in all it appears our accuracy is improving week by week.

Sabo is currently tied for first place with Mike Magee and Robert Earnshaw for the Golden Boot race with 3 goals each.  That is certainly not a bad way to start the season.  Let hope he can continue his lethal finishing.  I would also love to start seeing         Findley and Plata notching some goals of their own.

The above numbers seem to show that despite the roster shake ups; overall we are doing a better job of keeping possession of the ball, passing more accurately, advancing that possession in and around the 18-yard box, and creating and finishing chances.  I think that a more cohesive midfield has certainly played a role in this.  I think Gil and Velasquez have done a very notable job of contributing there.  They both have gobs of talent that is still being refined and perfected.  They seem to have a chemistry and synergy and seem to feed off of each other.  At times their speed and agility on the ball has made our opponents look silly.  It will be interesting to see how this midfield dynamic evolves as Ned and Javi find their way back to the starting lineup over the next several weeks.  It is likely that Sebastian will become more of a substitute but Gil is likely to continue to start.

RSLvCOL I think these stats support my theory that if RSL plays their brand of what most consider to be beautiful, proper football; namely possession based, short, quick, accurate, passing and prolonged pressure in and around the opponent’s 18-yard box with frequent attempts on goal, they emerge triumphant and take results from their matches.  Overall I think we are improving in this respect as compared to the last few seasons and I hope that as this season continues and our new players have more time in training and matches with the team this will only grow.  I think RSL is certainly capable of still being a top contender in the league this season!

Man it felt good to be back at the RioT on Saturday cheering on our boys in the Claret-and-Cobalt!  The weather couldn’t have been better for the occasion!

What are your thoughts about our season so far and how we have performed?  Share your comments below.

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