The truth is, we could have won 3-0.
From the preseason, the weakest point of the new formation has been recovering on the defensive side. RSL’s defenders will push high, even making it into the opposing half on occasion, and then they get caught on the break. The back line has some good recovery speed in Tony, Olave and Demar Phillips (who, despite a few mistakes, I was still happy to see back), all of whom are good getting back to defend. And they are bolstered by the breakneck speed of Olmes Garcia who came back to defend a number of times last night. But on all three Philadelphia goals, our players were caught out, making last ditch slide tackles that just missed the mark, and ultimately led to a goal. If you look at the second goal from Aristegueta and the Olave own-goal, both times an RSL defender made a dive to deflect the ball off-target. Once it went straight to Aristegueta’s feet and once it deflected perfectly past Nick Rimando for an own goal.
We need to do better.
Now, I’ve said before — and I still maintain — I like the high line. And playing a high line will present dangerous opportunities for whoever we’re playing. But there’s an obvious problem when you have three preventable goals that all happened from very similar plays. On the flip side, RSL scored 3 times. And had Olave not made that dive, the third Union goal might have been saved by Rimando, ending the game 3-2. RSL was extremely dangerous on set plays and did a good job of earning them. And I think everyone knows that the next thing to work on is making sure we can get the best of both worlds, attacking and defending, which is pretty well summed up by Javi:
If you see the game against Portland, then you say that we played pretty good defensively. We focused maybe a little bit more on defensively, and today everyone wants to attack, but we can play like that. We have to be smart and try to go both ways. Attack and defend. And when we get that balance, I think we will be a good team, but right now we have to keep working.