On St. Patty’s day 2012, Real Salt Lake beat New York 2-0 to continue their fantastic start. For some stats on the game and some interesting commentary on the New York Red Bulls situation, check out my previous article: https://claretpapers.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/some-stats-and-new-yorks-epic-problem/.
I’d say it was a pretty good showing for RSL in their home opener this season. The official attendance was 16,738. I was slightly disappointed by this fact. But I quickly realized that the weather was quite gusty with the threat of rain looming the entire match and realized that it was a decent turnout. I definitely was impressed with the noise the crowd made throughout the game. At the kickoff and both times we scored, our beloved new anthem, “Believe”, could be heard throughout the stadium.
I was a little bit off with my starting line-up prediction. I didn’t know that Tony Beltran was recovering so quickly and that Terukazu Tanaka was going to be brought to the hospital with the flu. It was nice to see Velasquez getting more time. It’s going to be interesting this season to see how much time the other rookies, namely Enzo Martinez and Diogo De Almedia, get on the pitch. I’m guessing those two will be more like “project players” similar to what Schuler was in his first year. I doubt that both of them will still be here in a season or two, but I could see that Jason is really excited for the new guys, especially Enzo.
Morales and Sabo made late entries into the game similar to the previous fixture against LA. RSL’s other substitute was Jonny Steele. Real picked up Steele this preseason after he turned down their offer several seasons ago and ended up coming back to the preseason camp. It’s good to see that he’s recovering very well from his minor injury. I thought his first official MLS match with Real would be even more special to him because it was on St. Patrick’s day (He’s Irish!).
Both Fabian Espindola and Luis Gil slotted home their tallies for Real. This goal was Fabi’s second in as many games to open up the season. He’s really coming out hard this year. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he sets some new records for himself this year. Gil’s goal was his second against New York at the RioT. His former was a wicked blast beyond the penalty area last summer.
Despite not completely controlling the game passing-wise, Real Salt Lake got it done and got the win with two crucial goals.
Let’s go Real!
Real Salt Lake continued their winning ways in their fantastic two-win start to the 2012 season. Only three other MLS teams have been able to keep pace with Real and won both of their first games. These teams, Houston, Kansas City, and Vancouver all carry six points. It can be noted that all three of those teams have yet to concede a goal. However, RSL leads the four team pack in goals scored with five.
The game against NYRB was an interesting one indeed. It wasn’t the blowout that several fans wanted, but the scoreline doesn’t quite reflect the game. Just look at the stats. New York had just as many shots on target as Real, they had 8 corner kicks opposed our 5, we committed 11 fouls on them and they only committed 8 against us. According to the statistics, New York seemed to be lurking in front of the RSL net. They had 24 open play crosses, 13 more than Real was able to create. The Red Bulls also put together 483 passes compared to the 411 that Real Salt Lake was able to thread. Both team’s passing accuracy was the same, 83%, but NY enjoyed the slight majority of the possession with 53.7%.
With those figures and the star power New York holds in their front line, you’d think they’d be able to put a few more goals away. Why don’t they?
New York’s been a hard team to figure out over the last couple years. Believe it or not their stats are usually quite similar to the numbers above. I have come to one possible conclusion about NYRB’s status as a team: they simply struggle to find an identity. The Red Bulls have the market, money, and star power of the LA Galaxy, but they don’t play LA’s style. They try to play Real Salt Lake style. New York’s envy for Real’s swagger has become especially apparent in recent interviews with Thierry Henry who expressed that New York are not at RSL’s level and need to play more like them.
But should they? It seems to me that the Galaxy’s style of sign-big-name-players-and-give-them-the-ball has actually worked out. New York does the sign-big-name-players-part but seems to focus on trying to keep possession and play beautiful soccer. It seems very apparent to me that this isn’t going to work out. Jason Kries has made it evident that he doesn’t have the best players. He has the RIGHT players. If NY wants to play good looking soccer, they need the RIGHT players. Those aren’t the big name ones that sell tickets. These RIGHT players are the Fabian Espindolas, Paulos, Grabavoys, Schulers, Beltrans that other clubs generally blow off. Grabavoy for example was cut by San Jose after the conclusion of their first season as an expansion team after re-entering the league. San Jose came dead last. They were one of the worst clubs in MLS history. They didn’t think Ned Grabavoy was good enough for their team. Now you can see him starting for Real Salt Lake as one of the key workhorses on the team. Ned is one of those RIGHT players. If New York wants to succeed they need to figure out their own style and sign players based of it.