FC Tucson started the Desert Diamond Cup losing 6-nil against the Sounders. Going into this match, I was expecting a much more one-sided game and was a little nervous when Tucson equalized late in the first half. The goals came in the second half (only two more, sadly, so not the trouncing that the Sounders delivered) and RSL came away with 3 more points in the preseason tournament. Here are some things I saw in the second viewing of the new lineup and formation.
There’s a ton more movement happening. And a lot more crosses coming in from the wings. Crosses from the flanks is to be expected in the formation, but what you don’t always see is overlapping runs from the outside backs in a formation with wingers (because often times the wingers, or the wide midfielders are taking that role). There were runs from the wing forwards, runs from the outside midfielders, runs from the fullbacks, and Olave and Schuler sitting around midfield for much of the match (that actually led to the lone goal for FC Tucson — Schuler was the only centerback in our own territory, Olave having pushed forward, and without the speed to recover on a quick break). But it’s not just the wide players getting into wide positions — there’s movement happening all over the place. Hell, Saborio sent in a cross. This leads to my next observation about the…
2. Second PK goal
Devon Sandoval has scored two goals in the tournament, both off penalty kicks. Penalty kicks aren’t overly hard for a striker to land, but the fact that we’ve been in that position twice in two games shows how dangerous RSL has been inside the box. The attacking half of the pitch is flooded with red jerseys and the box has, many times, been crowded with them as well. This leads to last-ditch attempts to get the ball out which has resulted in a foul against John Stertzer in the first match and a foul against Jordan Allen in the second, both inside the 18.
3. Holy crap, Demar Philips
The second match featured what’s likely to be (or a fairly good representation of) RSL’s first team, who played for about 60 minutes. In that time, Demar Philips was a madman. Seriously, it was insane. If there were any doubts about Wingert’s replacement, I hope they are dispelled. He’s fast, able to go up and down the pitch with ease. He’s not afraid to take shots from distance (and they’ve been pretty on-target so far). And his vision seeing players in dangerous positions is exactly what this new formation needs from him.