RSL ultimately failed in their first road game of this 3 game road trip. They went to Toronto with a lot of confidence and a full week's rest, but walked away with 0 points and, once again, 0 goals for. On paper, the game was by far the easiest left on the schedule. Toronto is a cellar dweller that was leaking goals at an alarming rate. Not only did RSL fail to get a point, but they failed to score. Which, to me, was the most alarming point of the match. The lack of production up top is starting to become a really big issue, especially away from home.This game could be used for coaching lessons throughout the world. It was a prime example of "getting punished for not taking advantage of your opportunities". In the first 25 minutes, it looked as though TFC was going to be the team punished. They created chances quite a few times, yet couldn't find the net. At around the 25th minute, things changed. Suddenly RSL took hold of the game and attacked. Like TFC, though, they simply couldn't score. For whatever reason, RSL looked simply confused once in front of goal. The crossbar did come to the rescue for TFC on two occasions, it's true, but RSL should never have let the ball go that high. It was a painful half to watch in regards to finishing. So many blown chances.
In the second half it was much the same. RSL looked dominant but simply couldn't find the net. As the game wore on, though, it became much more level. TFC, as the home team should, took some risks and threw numbers at RSL. Ultimately, this paid off. A bizarre and rather weak shot found the back of the net, and sank the hopes of RSL. Thus, RSL was made to pay for their lack of finishing. The chances were there for RSL to put this one away both in the first half and in the second. TFC made us pay.
Man of the Match: Torsten FringsMoving Frings to CB, I thought, was going to be a bad idea. Instead, it paid off rather well for TFC. The veteran lead from the back and played a role in RSL's scoring woes. The guy has played at the top level, you can tell. Wonderful addition to MLS.
Wanker(s) of the Match: RSL's AttackNot scoring on the leagues leakiest defense is simply inexcusable. Hell, this same team gave up 3 goals to a 10-man DC United just last week. I know they made adjustments to disrupt our play, but not scoring was simply embarrassing. This can be spread across the whole squad, but is especially reserved for Saborio, Espindola, Paulo Junior (was nice to see him, though), Alvarez, Johnson, Williams, Gil, etc. The supposed lethal offense of RSL looks incredibly tame once it leaves the confines of the RioT.
Reason to be Nervous:
RSL has scored only 5 times away from home this year (9 games). We are almost the league worst when it comes to goals scored on the road (second to Portland by .01). With 8 more games to be played on the road, there is plenty of reason for RSL to be nervous. RSL has to pick up points in some of these games to make the playoffs; it's becoming that dreadful. Relying on the rest of the home games for the points to get in is not only a risky venture, but it's not an assured one either. Teams above us in the standings are separating themselves. Similarly, teams behind us are closing the gap. This team that was once in the discussion of Supporters Shield winner is now having to wonder if they have what it takes to make the playoffs.
Reason to Not be Overly Nervous:
On the positive side of things, RSL has only given up 7 goals on the road this year. We are the only team in the league with a goals against average on the road that is less than one (both Philly and LA average exactly 1 GA on the road). Thus, the defense is doing their job. The offense has to be able to find the net a whole lot more than they have been. While teams are starting to separate themselves from RSL, it is key to remember those games in hand that RSL have. The cRapids are now 4 points ahead of RSL, but they also have played 4 more games. Seattle is 6 points ahead but has also played 3 more games. Dallas is 7 points ahead but has played 3 more games. LA is quickly becoming out of reach, though, as they are 12 points ahead having played 3 more games. Similarly, the teams behind us are in fact gaining ground but still have all played more games than us. Chivas USA, the most immediate threat, is 6 points back and has played 2 more games. On the other side, Houston is 5 points back having played 2 more games and Sporting is 6 points back having played 1 more game.
Thus, it isn't time to become overly worried, but there should be a bit of nervousness in the air for RSL fans. Things aren't awful, but they aren't trending in a positive manner at all. This team is really struggling to find the net away from home yet has twice as many road games left as home games. I said it before this road swing began and I'll say it again, this is the true test of this squad. The next two teams are potential playoff contenders. If the playoffs started today, Houston would be the last team in while Chivas would be the first team to miss the cut. These are the kind of games that RSL has to show they are a top level team against. I'm not saying they have to win both to do so, but picking up points is key. Where this team is will be pretty well understood come August 28th.
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