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).
Some wins are better than others. I don't know that this one is, but it certainly felt right, and if we're talking pure, unadulterated scoreline, this was the best we've had this season. There were too many positives to count.
Actually, I take that back. There were 14 positives for players, a huge positive for coaching, and a nice little cherry on top for Dan Kennedy's oddly spotty goalkeeping. But four goals aren't the result of goalkeeping — and had he been worse, Saborio could have had four or five, such was his level last night.
The best goal of the bunch was his final one: a chipped effort, sailing right over Kennedy. It was a thing of beauty. It was a bit funny, too — the icing on the cake goal for the player was not so different than Thierry Henry's chipped effort earlier in the night. Anything you can do, Titi, Saborio can do better.
The first 15 minutes were fantastic, with everyone getting forward well, and Espindola truly running the show. Even Javier Morales played a bit of second fiddle to his Argentine compatriot. Espindola's cross for the first goal was flicked on by Morales (it was sumptuous, that flick-on), and Saborio finished with ease at the back post. Apparently Espindola and Morales both get assists on that, which always confuses me a bit — but that is what it is.
The second goal was one better: Espindola, his instincts guiding him, picked up a loose pass forward from Chivas GK Dan Kennedy, and he laid it off perfectly for Saborio. Another easy finish for the Costa Rican, but it must be repeatedly emphasized that he was making the right run and was in the right position.
Only 12 minutes in, 2-0 up, and things got a little harder until the half. We were in a position where we weren't terribly vulnerable, but we seemed content to let Chivas USA attack for a bit. What's that they say about 2-0 scorelines and relative difficulty? That was the name of the game from minutes 20 to 45.
But when RSL came back from the break, things looked massively improved. The chances just poured in: Javier Morales had a creeping effort saved off the line by Chivas defender John Valencia; Tony Beltran served in a brilliant cross for Saborio to get his head on that was just saved, and Luis Gil found some excellent attacking positions and wasn't afraid to shoot from distance.
The real treat, 63 minutes in: Will Johnson takes a shot inside the box, it rebounds off Kennedy, and Saborio picks it up. With killer instinct, Sabo drops, launches it, and chips Kennedy. Oh my, my, my.
Toward the end, Jonny Steele rattled the crossbar (it's weird typing that and not capitalizing it, you see), but the real late delight was Paulo Jr., picking up a brilliant through ball from Espindola inside the penalty area, right side — and boom, a right-footed shot, Kennedy out of position (it was a very good run), no defender nearby, and a goal, top right corner. A fantastic, fantastic goal — and Paulo's second goal of the season, and first from the run of play.
But aside from the goalscoring exploits, there were excellent performances from Kyle Beckerman, who was truly the invisible wall defensive midfielder; Luis Gil, who looked a different player in the second half, and was the only player really taking shots from distance for most of the match; Tony Beltran, who got up and down the right side with ease; and, we mustn't forget, Nick Rimando, who made some crucial stops during a rough patch from his outfielders. Will Johnson, too, is worth a shout, for his break-up play, and, hell, so is everyone else.
All told, it was a comprehensive performance, and it came at a time when we've been struggling to find something even approaching that. Jason Kreis, it seems, will be pleased.
Photo by Boz from the RSL-Portland match a week ago.