OK back to the soccer...I traded 3 questions with Denz of RSL Soapbox yesterday. This should give you a little better insight into RSL as we head into the big game this weekend. You can find my answers to his questions here
1. The $1 million question everyone wants to know, how is RSL doing offensively without Javier Morales?
RSL actually had started to struggle a bit on the offensive end before he was injured, consider that 4 of our current 9 goals in MLS action came against the Galaxy, and only two goals in our last 4 matches is a far cry from what some fans expect but last year we averaged 1.5 goals per match and this year we are currently at 1.28.
I think we will need to make some adjustments as we look for a creative solution in the midfield, against Houston we went with Collen Warner, who I think is the long term solution and he played OK, but we have seen better from him. I know that if things don't work to the level of expectations that Jason Kreis has mentioned we may have to look at a formation or tactics change, and given that we will likely be missing some key starters during June that is looking like more of a reality than a possibility.
Thankfully our defense has been the best in the league giving up just 0.29 goals per match, but to get wins we will need to get our offense back on track.
2. Besides Morales, how is RSL looking on the injury front? Espindola was out last week, will he be back?
Not bad, Fabian was back at full practice yesterday but Paulo Jr. is still being held out with a hamstring injury, and I doubt that the team is expecting him back before early June when he will be needed to replace guys going to the Gold Cup.
Cody Arnoux who recently began training with the team has a minor ACL strain suffered in the knee that wasn't operated on last year, which will slow his recovery. Other than that, it appears that everyone is going to be good to go and available for the match on Sunday.
3. No goals or assists for Alvaro Saborio on the season, what’s wrong with the guy and what form will be be in on Sunday?
No goals or assists in league play is correct, in the off season he underwent knee surgery, but given the long season last year and then short off season for RSL this year he has had to try to play himself back to full fitness as opposed to resting and practicing until he was back to 100%.
I have noticed all season that even when walking you can see him favoring one leg over the other, which makes him tilted when he walks, but over the last couple weeks he has continued to get better and looking more fit. I also think teams are clearly putting a good deal more focus on defending him than they were last year, but a good player will adjust to that and continue to be effective.
I think he will continue his improvement both on and off the ball, which is important for RSL as it creates space for others as well as opportunities for himself.
Bonus question! If you could pick one player from the RSL roster to add to the FC Dallas roster, who would it be and why?
For me it is easy, Brek Shea. The kid can play anywhere on the pitch and make a difference and the one thing that some people think he lacks (discipline) is something that Jason would demand of him.
To have a guy who could be that additional outside back in our rotation would be great, but I think the ability to play him in the midfield as one of those guys who floats around and looks for opportunities would be huge for RSL and his size makes him a real target on set pieces as well. Yup not a doubt in my mind.