What I saw in RSL’s Desert Diamond Cup pre-season win against the New England Revolution

It was good to get a win in preseason. No, the games don’t matter, but winning is always nice and there were a few specific things I saw that were pretty exciting.

Boyd Okwuonu looks ready to go

One of the biggest surprises of the night for me was how good Boyd Okwuonu looked. A pick relatively late in the draft, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from him. Nevertheless, he looked good both on the attack and on defense, making himself a menace a number of times along the right flank.

Elias Vasquez will be stiff competition for Schuler and Olave

RSL’s new Guatemalan international centerback was also impressive, thwarting the Revs attack in the final third more than once. At the same time, he was responsible for a number of loose passes but most of those could be attributed to communication issues which comes back to lack of time with the team. It’s been said already, but he’s a pretty comparable player to Carlos Salcedo.

Jordan Allen looked pretty good, too

RSL Soapbox already pointed this out, so I won’t belabor the point.

But the whole game changed once our regular first team came on

At about the 60th minute, RSL put on what basically amounted to the first team — Beltran, Olave, Schuler, new leftback Demar Philips; Gil, Beckerman, Morales; Jaime, Sabo, Garcia. Despite having an early lead, there were moments in the first half and early in the second half where the team just wasn’t able to gel. All that seemed to go away once the lineup changed. That’s more or less to be expected, of course — these players have played with each other a lot more than the game’s starters have.

4-2-3-1 vs 4-3-3

It seemed to me like the first-half team and the second-half team were using slightly different formations. When the younger team was on the field, It looked like Stertzer was playing alongside rookie Lucas Baldin as defensive midfielders with Luke Mulholland playing as a lone attacking midfielder. This could potentially have been referred to as a 4-5-1 because there was really only one real striker, Devon Sandoval — on the wings were Jordan Allen (arguably a midfielder, though it’s still a bit up in the air) and Sebastian Saucedo (who was an attacking midfielder/playmaker in the youth academy). This formation looks like this:

After the lineup changed, we had both Javier Morales and Luis Gil on the field at the same time, with Kyle Beckerman the lone D-mid. This formation looks like this:

Obviously we’re testing the waters a bit. The 4-2-3-1/4-5-1 variation has more defensive options whereas the pure 4-3-3 is more attacking — at least the way we were playing it, with both Gil and Morales playing attacking roles and pushing high, as opposed to traditional box-to-box midfielders usually found in those positions. I think it’s good to have both approaches and the flexibility to switch back and forth depending on the team we’re playing and the flow of the game.

All in all, despite the lone goal of the match followed by 84 minutes of chess with some hairy moments at times, it was good to finally see some familiar faces on a soccer pitch again.

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