With a loss like the one we had, a look at tactics and statistics is never going to tell the entire story . It doesn't explain how we inexplicably failed to score a goal (and we were quite close; on any other day, we'd have scored four!), and it doesn't explain how we faltered on a single cross that led to our concession of a goal.
Still, they're interesting, and they help to tell the story, so here's my take on those things. Way to sell it, huh?
Building From The Back
- Nick Rimando's distribution was excellent, hitting 32 of 32 passes. Yeah, that's right: 100 percent. This was partly down to a string of short passes to Olave and Schuler, who were often rather without pressure at the back, and partly down to good awareness on the wings to pick up his flank-driven passes out of goal.
- The four defenders had an excellent passing game as well, hitting 222 of 261 passes for an 85 percent passing rate. While I haven't gone back to check, it seems to me that they each made more passes than they typically did last season — by a great margin.
- Olave: 62/72 passing, including nine headers, five of which were unsuccessful. Schuler: 49/53, including six headers, three of which were unsuccessful. Wingert: 60/70. Beltran: 51/66, including five unsuccessful crosses.
In The Midfield
- Luis Gil failed to insert himself into the game during his 71 minutes on the pitch, with 11 of his 15 passes successful. He also took one shot, which was off target.
- Ned Grabavoy, on the other hand, was active across the right side of midfield with 41 of 49 passes successful. He also had two key passes, both of which came in the first half.
- Sebastian Velasquez, in the 45 minutes he spent in the match, hit 18 of his 21 passes. He also had his one shot attempt blocked.
- Javier Morales, certainly on in the more frantic 45 minutes of play, was successful with 25 of his 39 passes. Discounting unsuccessful crosses, he had a more reasonable 25 of 32, about 78 percent. Two were key passes: One a chip into the box, and one a cross into the box.
- Kyle Beckerman, despite his somewhat angered demeanor, was the most influential RSL player on the pitch, covering ground across midfield. He had 65 of 76 passes completed, including three key passes, one of which was from a corner kick. He was also defensively important, winning three tackles but losing two, making three interceptions, and recovering the ball seven times.
- In his 19 minutes on the pitch, Jonny Steele was 11 for 16 in passing, including one key pass. He also won two fouls, one of which was on the left flank about 18 yards from touch.
- Alvaro Saborio attempted four shots in his 45 minutes on the pitch, one of which was blocked. The remaining three were off target, though not by particularly much. He made 10 of his 11 passes, three of which were attempted with his head.
- Paulo Junior, subbed out at the end of the first half, attempted 12 passes, eight of which were successful. One of those was a key pass. He took two shots, neither of which were on target.
- Fabian Espindola had three successful dribbles and was the only player with any on our side. The one other in the match was completed by Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy inside his own box. Fabian also attempted three shots, with two on target and one blocked. The two on target were from the left and right sides of the box, but both were headed toward the right side of the goal.
What does it mean?
Despite some excellent passing at the back, we were given a lot of time with the pressing tactic Chivas employed. By sitting off until we were well inside their half, we were able to move the ball around effectively around the back, but less so in the middle. The further you look up the pitch, the worse the passing gets and the less possession we maintained. Luis Gil, for one, seems particularly a victim of this.
In spite of their deep defensive line tactic, Some of the chances we had to score were crafted out extraordinarily well, and on another day, you'd expect a keeper to flap at Espindola's shots a bit more, and you might expect Alvaro to put some of his shots on frame.
It's a problem we'll probably face many times this campaign. As we become more attacking in our play and peg teams back further, we'll have to deal with this sort of bunkering. The sooner we learn to deal with it, the better we'll do.
It's not all so discouraging, though. We had a number of chances, despite the tactic, and we conceded on a bit of a one-off. It's not a systemic problem, and it's not a problem of personnel, and this is to our benefit in the long run. Every team will have blips — it's just a shame we just had ours.