What did our beloved Claret and Cobalt do the evening of March, 10th? They did what they trained for. They did what they most wanted. They did what they are capable of. They “came to score” (The Aggrolites).
Good word, I'm spoiling (or annoying) the lot of you with these twice-daily posts. Don't count on them continuing, by and large, though, as these have all been somewhat special cases. At any rate, I went off to watch the RSL reserves take on those dastardly Rapids reserves — I reserve anything stronger than that for non-reserves players — in a match which they lost 1-0.
The lineup was a reasonably strong one, considering they're reserves players. Starting for our side: Reynish / Tanaka, Cruz, Schuler, de Almeida / Alvarez, Martinez, Steele, Allen / Paulo Jr., Bonfigli. For their side, some folks I don't give more than a passive hoot about. You know the drill.
Rather than run through the action, which was sometimes a bit sparse and altogether lacked excitement but in a few instances, I'll just run through some notes, thoughts, and generic rambling bits that could probably be applied to anyone else. Again, you know the drill.
Kyle Reynish, who captained the side, was very good, stopping a key shot or two (or three, I don't remember specifically) and making a stupendous penalty save to prevent a second goal. Is there a better second keeper in the league? I'm not so sure. As much as I'd love to see him get minutes, though, there's no way he gets past Nick Rimando right now.
Yordany Alvarez, though, was a bit lacking. His passing was good, his movement was good, and he generally put pressure in the right places, but he had a few choice tackles, including one that ended with him being cautioned and another that ended with a saved penalty. He's got a bit of work to do before he's got my vote of confidence, but I'm still confident and hopeful that there won't be an issue.
Jonny Steele was shouting and organizing everyone around him. Reserves matches are brilliant for this: Everything he said was audible, and we had a chance to really get a look at him on the pitch. Not only is he fitting in well with our system, but he understands it and he helps younger players — Diogo de Almeida, for one — to understand it. Even if he isn't the most technical player, I'll take him over a player without that sort of understanding and passion any day of the week.
Chris Schuler, too, was loud and commanding. Given that he was on the left side of the central pairing (Cruzler? Schuz? Right, OK, I won't give this one a try.), he had Diogo de Almeida on his side, who did need some extra instruction. One of my big gripes with him last season was that he wasn't working enough to organize in the absence of Nat Borchers. It's always reassuring to see him developing that skill.
Terukazu Tanaka attacked well, defended well, and was generally one of our better players on the pitch. There were a couple times when he did get caught up the pitch and a defender had to slide over to cover, but that's a systemic thing and nothing but. I love that he's bombing forward, and with time, he'll know the capabilities of our side better and can better pick out when to run. His English also seemed to be better, and there were fewer communication problems overall.
Paulo Jr. is developing into a very interesting player. It's clear that he's not a simple fast-running type (hence our bringing in of Bonfigli, I think) but in a different sort of shape. He is quite quick, but I'd imagine he serves more as an outlet than that. His increased strength may play into this. Time will tell what sort of player he becomes, but I'm excited to find out.
Jordan Allen, a 16-year-old from the academy — and one of the highest-rated prospects in the nation — played the full 90 minutes, and while he looked a bit gassed at the end, that's to be expected at his age, I think. He seemed good on the ball and displayed good vision. Until another academy member entered the fray, Allen played the tip of the diamond spot, and did so well considering his age. He later moved to the right side of the midfield, where he was involved in some good build-up play.
Speaking of the academy — and not the Greek sort which developed Plato, Aristotle, Heraclides, Xenocrates and the like — we saw two other players get a run out: 18-year-old Ricardo Velazco, who took over at the tip of the diamond; and Maikon "Mikey" Orellana, who came on for Jonny Steele. Orellana, notably, is Salvadoran but more recently comes from Provo. He was also apparently once invited to the Real Madrid academy, though under what pretense, I'm not sure. At any rate, it's always encouraging to see a local kid getting out there.
If these academy kids make it with the team, I'll be nothing but pleased. We're still waiting for the promising Nico Muñiz to grab some minutes — perhaps the U.S. Open Cup will see him handed a chance — and Lalo Fernandez will have to remain patient as the third-choice keeper, but it's clear that there's a lot of promise in our academy.
Right, if you've made it this far without falling asleep, I applaud you. Perhaps next time I will make it more interesting for you — but, well, you know the drill.