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).
For the first time in what seems like a long time, I'm not unhappy with a draw. Far from unhappy, actually. Perhaps it was the nature of our three-game losing skid, wherein anything that wasn't another loss seems like, well, a win. I mean, it wasn't a win, but against a Seattle side that is quite capable, a draw doesn't seem a bad result.
And when you consider that Seattle didn't seem to play for much more — aside, maybe, from trying to nick a goal on the break in a typically English manner — well, a draw seems a pretty just result. While we might be a bit aggrieved by the offside call on Saborio's goal (it was definitively not offside, replays show), we can't live and die by referee's judgments, really. We've got to create more chances, sure, and that's not something referees really dictate. So while the refereeing wasn't spectacular, it is sort of par for the course.
Then, when you further consider that we saw two debutants (it is a shame we do not have a ball for these sorts, aside from the ball which is on the pitch, which isn't at all the sort I meant) in the form of Kenny Mansally — who impressed for the reserves — and Kwame Watson-Siriboe, who impressed for the Chicago Fire reserves when they played our reserves side. To say the two impressed is to cut them a bit short.
Kwame Watson-Siriboe (who also wins the award for longest name) came in and played in the physically and tactically demanding spot that Jamison Olave plays in. While there were one or two instances where he looked slightly unsure, he generally handled the job well, with one particular block on the edge of the box coming to mind. He rose well for those 50-50 balls, too, and played some smart back passes. What's more, he communicated with Nat well and even directed play on set pieces a bit. To see that from a first-timer is spectacular. Why'd Chicago basically hand him to us, again?
If Watson-Siriboe was impressive, Kenny Mansally, who I've been excited to see since his signing seemed imminent, was doubly so. Mansally looked every bit the comfortable RSL player, and while we knew his league experience would come in handy, I never suspected he would look like he'd been in our system for years — instead of just weeks. He got forward with aplomb, pressured at the right times, got back with vim and vigor, and generally looked like the modern attacking left back we need to back up Chris Wingert. Additionally, he added a bit through long throws that, while not our optimal attacking option, shook things up in a positive way. In fact, Mansally took to injury (ah, that marvelous bug — this one was a separated shoulder, which sounds and undoubtedly is painful) at some point — I believe it was in the first half, though I'm not 100% certain on that — and he played on with it before his substitution. My word. What a player.
Chris Wingert, too, had a magnificent game on the right side, where he played in the absence of Tony Beltran. Chris completed a team-high 75 passes on the right side, which, when you consider it, is quite remarkable. Now, I'm not comparing him directly, as his position is quite different, but that's not a small number. In fact, that's a number you'd expect from someone like Germany's Philipp Lahm, not Real Salt Lake's American right back. For perspective: Last season in the Bundesliga for Bayern Munich, Lahm had 76.5 passes per game with 90.5% accuracy. Wingert isn't doing this every game, sure, and the leagues are quite different, but it's important to point out exactly how vital he was tonight in securing the point and playing with adventure.
Everyone else did reasonably well, with the back line certainly taking some credit away from the match for their collective performance. I was never particularly worried (I mean, more worried than usual) that Seattle would find the back of the net, and sure enough, they didn't. It was a bit discouraging to see time wasting early on from their side, as you'd think they'd want to, you know, try for their first win in nine games, but a point was all they wanted and perhaps a bit more than they deserved for their negativity.
So where do we go from here? Seattle's Cascadia rivals (the more indie ones, I imagine, and the ones Seattle wishes they were, except on the pitch, I suppose) and recipients of one of their former players in Mike Fucito (that Seattle trade with Montreal for Eddie Johnson, who is a bit of a ponce and not particularly sporting, proved to be very interesting in a fair few ways with the way the pieces fell into place) are coming to town, and we better prepare to pounce and trounce and generally just put them to the sword, if I'm allowed to combine metaphors for effect.
We've got to improve in our last pass efforts, our key passes, our big chances created, and other statistical measures. But what we don't need (although it wouldn't hurt, really) is more heart, more effort, more passion. We have those things already, and they're not why we didn't win. We just, you know, need to calm down just a smidgen, play in our forwards, and let them score. Oh, and if we could avoid having their goals pulled back for offsides, that would be great. Thanks.