Magnificent RSL coming back into form as playoffs enter view

Magnificent RSL coming back into form as playoffs enter view

How good is he? How good are we?

Down 1-0 and scrambling, we could've fallen. Hard. In the first 25 minutes, we weren't good enough. LA Galaxy, obviously quite good, were shooting from distance and getting the time and space they needed. We needed a response, clearly, but when that response would come was the question of the day.

Read Jason Kreis and others' thoughts about the match and my more traditional match report over at RSL Soapbox

The 25th minute. Was there a better time for the response to come? Waiting until the half might have given the Galaxy a chance to plug the holes that were bubbling through their defense. Fabian Espindola saw those holes — but he wasn't alone. Javier Morales, Alvaro Saborio — our attacking triumvirate showed vision and ability greater than the sum of its parts. That's quite remarkable, too, because those parts are pretty great on their own. Add 'em all up and it's just, well, fantastic — when it all clicks. And click it did!

It would be elucidative (word of the day) to go through each player and issue some sort of remark about their performance. Unusually, I'm taking this more elucidative approach instead of dancing around the points like a tired, not very good tap dancer — you can hear every click. Heh.

Nick Rimando. What is there to say about this man that hasn't already been said? He made some fantastic stops on the night and, as always, was assured on set pieces. Could we really do better than this guy? I don't know — but I'm not inclined to think that there's any keeper better in MLS or even North America.

Tony Beltran. Tony had a solid night in attack and defense, keeping the likes of Landon Donovan at bay with aplomb. He didn't stand out particularly, but Donovan didn't particularly either (one nasty stamp on Javi's ankle aside) — and that's really the big takeaway here.

Nat Borchers. Where would we be this season without Nat? He showed exactly what it is he brings: He was solid in the air and controlled play well. Clearance after clearance, the man was immense.

Jamison Olave. Last night marked the first time I think we've seen Jamison Olave anywhere near his best in some time. His four interceptions illustrate his value when facing a good attacking side.

Chris Wingert. Chris didn't have opportunity to get forward much, but being tasked with watching David Beckham (when he got further forward) and Robbie Keane meant he didn't see too much action in the attacking half at all.

Kyle Beckerman. Immense. The man closes down passing lanes with the best of them, makes vital interceptions, and closes down like so few can. That Juninho only had one chance from distance (and that one a quite deep one) speaks volumes.

Luis Gil. His first 25 minutes wasn't great, but once RSL went ahead, he helped sustain possession and got in reasonable attacking positions. For spells, the game sort of passed him by, and he'll want to show he can be involved for 90 minutes in the future.

Jonny Steele. Jonny Steele had a few bad moments and a few very good moments, but by and large, he occupied the right spaces and closed down well. He let Juninho's cross in for Keane's goal, but the quality of the cross caught him out — Steele was close, but Juninho's control is immaculate. It wasn't his best game, but it also wasn't his worst game.

Javier Morales. The playmaker was all over the place. By the end, he looked exhausted — but he took up positions all over the attacking half, and the running involved was intense. He made the second goal happen with a fantastic cross, and he set up some great chances throughout. More importantly, he tracked back and helped provide defensive pressure. Where would we be without him?

Alvaro Saborio. Who knocks the ball down like him? He was in fine hold-up form, and his connection with Espindola produced one goal and nearly saw one or two more. It doesn't matter to me which of those two is scoring: They're back to sharing the load, and it's hard to complain about that.

Fabian Espindola. When Espindola is in form, teams shake. Going into the playoffs, there's little better than that. A wonderful performance. An added bonus? Both Saborio and Espindola are looking at their strongest. When was the last time they both looked this good?

The substitutes all did well: Paulo Jr., Chris Schuler, and Yordany Alvarez took up the right positions and helped seal the win. Beauty.