RSL 2 – 0 San Jose
RSL made a big statement tonight in its season opener at San Jose. Last season the Claret-and-Cobalt couldn’t figure out how to deal with San Jose but tonight they showed that 2013 is a new day.
I couldn’t be more excited for this 2013 season after tonight’s result. Particularly in the second half of the match I saw the RSL style of soccer I love to watch; cohesive purposeful possession in and around the 18, picking the defense apart. Reminiscent of the 2010 RSL and something we have lacked most of last two seasons. The boys looked like they were having fun and doing it in style. Their play was absolutely beautiful soccer that is a pleasure to watch.
ReAL elected to start a younger lineup and experiment a bit tonight, starting what would be considered just 4 veterans (Rimando, Beltran, Beckerman, Saborio). I know much of this is due to our current injury issues in the veteran core but much is also due to the hard work and dedication of our younger core. The young line up paid big dividends in the end!
There were some standout performances from several players. Gil and Velasquez played really well in the midfield, however not often at the same time. Gil was much more present in the first half while Velasquez was the same in the second half. There is no doubt that the creativity they both bring to the attack contributed to the win tonight. Velasquez was particularly cheeky and technical with the ball and was an absolute delight to watch. Both of these kids have bright futures at RSL and likely beyond.
Khari Stevenson looks right at home at the top of our diamond. I can’t believe how well he has slotted into such a difficult position in our system in so little time. The performance wasn’t perfect but there is little to find fault with. His size at that position brings a new dynamic to the attack.
Joao Plata was a game changer tonight. He was the definition of a super-sub. There is a notable synergy that him and Saborio have that is potent. I don’t see the same synergy yet with Sabo and Findley, but I really hope they can find it. The attack changed when Plata came on the field. The whole team was energized and the attack became more effective.
Plata and Beckerman had two picture perfect assists to Sabo! You couldn’t ask for better balls than those two served up tonight!
Findley had some good moments but I think may need a bit of time to readjust to our system. There were a few bad touches and some lack of cohesiveness in the attack until Plata was subbed in. There is no doubt Robbie brings some much-needed speed to the attack that we have been lacking for the last year or two. It is obvious we are looking to utilize his speed by placing balls over the top and letting him stretch the defense. It worked; we just have to find the way to make the next step in the progression work effectively.
Huge props to Devon Sandoval for first of all being selected in the 18-man roster and making his MLS debut in his very first MLS match. That is a rare thing to have happen at RSL.
I like the overall calmer look and feel of the team and coaching staff as a whole. It seemed to me often times last season we were trying too hard to force the results. Tonight felt relaxed and in control. I like the fact that we seem to be evolving as an organization and coaching staff; we are less rigid and more willing to experiment. A few years ago it is unlikely that RSL would have ever started such a young inexperienced line up. Of course there is merit in utilizing a seasoned veteran core but when the young players have earned the right to play and have shown they can contribute, it is nice to see them given the chance and be successful at it.
Former RSL players, Fabian Espindola and Jamison Olave also had braces for the Red Bulls tonight. Unfortunately Olave’s second was in the wrong goal, coming in the form of a deflected cross off his shin that redirected into his goal.
How good does it feel to start the season in San Jose, getting a win and a shut out? Serious monkey off the back! Of course the season is just starting but if this is a sign of things to come in 2013, I think I am going to love this season!
RSL played down to the wire tonight; despite being ahead 2 to 0 in the later minutes of the match they didn’t fall back and absorb the pressure in defensive form. They immediately transitioned once regaining possession right back into the attack and kept San Jose under most of the second half and right up to the final whistle. This is one thing I have always loved about RSL soccer and felt like it was missing last season.
Congrats to the boys for a well deserved win! Believe!
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