Welcome to From The Upper Deck, my blog about RSL and soccer in general. I have a lot of passion for the beautiful game. I am just a fan that likes to sit in the upper deck and take it all in.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

RSL at Dallas (3-23-2013)

What is it about Texas that we hate so much? RSL fell once again to FC Dallas 2-0. Even though that score line was not the one that Jason Kreis wanted to see, I feel that there were many positives to take out of this match. Our starting line up missing so many players due to either injury or national team call ups. The odds were not in our favor going into the match. But with the play of some of our younger players, the future does look bright.

Now don't get me wrong, we still lost the match and didn't look that great through long periods of the match. In hindsight, this Dallas team might have been the worst match up RSL could have played against with the lineup that they had to play. The speed of Dallas' top four players caused RSL problems all night long. Dallas is going to give a lot of teams problems this year with that speed, but our make shift back four (especially the outside backs) really couldn't handle it. There were also some tactical decisions that I didn't really agree with. Let me discuss some of these things before I move on to some of the pluses that I think came from the match.

Chris Schuler has played outside back for RSL and has done well before, but he looked uncomfortable  against Dallas. With him being more established as a starting center back, I wonder how much time in training he has had at outside back? It makes me wonder if Enzo Martinez might have been a better pick to start. The player that I felt had the worst night was Lovel Palmer. Dallas seemed to attack him all night long and he just didn't have the speed or the positioning to be able to stop their attack. He was involved in both plays that Dallas scored on.

Once again, I was not real happy with the play of Alvarez. I have never been a fan of his since he started playing for us. He always seems to be super aggressive. In fact, I commented about this in a tweet during the game. The RSL twitter feed commented back saying the following. "He's gotten a first-half yellow in just about every RSL game he has ever played, 1st team or reserve". I do feel his second yellow was very soft so I don't blame him for that. But if he wasn't so aggressive or reckless leading to his first card, he wouldn't have been sent off in the match.

I do think Kreis made a mistake with his starting lineup. I didn't feel the combination of Findley and Plata worked at all. To say that we missed Sabo would be an understatement. But I think what we missed more was that big forward up front that could hold the ball. This affected the whole midfield as we almost exclusively started playing balls over the top to the forwards. We had very little build up through the middle of the field. Before the match started, many people predicted that Sandoval would get the start. I think that would have worked much better for the team.

Many people might not agree with me, but I felt that Saunders had a very good match. Yes, he made one huge blunder with his feet on the second goal. He sure doesn't have the feet that Rimando does. But I believe the problem with the second goal came from Palmer's indecision on the play. He was the one that gave Saunders the back pass at the last second. Other than that one play, I thought Saunders had a pretty good save. I am glad that Nick is our starter, but I am very happy with Saunders as our back up keeper.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I did see many good things come from this match. I will start with Sandoval. I am quickly becoming a huge Sandoval fan. The more that I see him play, the more that I like him. He works incredibly hard while he is out on the field. He also always seems to be in the right spot on the field. Go watch a reply of the Sabo goal in the Colorado match and see where Sandoval is at on the goal. From the angle that he had, Sabo made an incredible shot. But if his shot was even a little off, Sandoval was right there to put it away. In this game against Dallas, once again, he was at the right spot to get a goal. If it wasn't for an incredible (fluky?) save from Matt Hedges from Dallas, he would have had his first professional goal. I think this kid is going to be good and I can't wait to see him get more playing time.

Just like Sandoval Olmes Garcia almost scored his first MLS goal. He stepped out on the pitch and with his first touch of the ball was maybe an inch or less from putting the ball in the back of the net. I still haven't seen much of Garcia play, but I have heard good things about him in the reserve league match and he seemed to have really good footwork in the Dallas match. From what I have seen of him, he is very fast as well. It just makes you wonder how the match would have turned out if either he or Sandoval would have scored.

I thought that Grossman played well in the first half but didn't see him do anything at all in the second. But again, that might have been a result of bypassing the midfield with balls over the top to the forwards. I loved the energy that Stertzer had in the DC match and was hoping for more of the same in Dallas but I didn't see him stand out. I would have liked to see more from Gil. He had another great chance at goal. You can just feel that a goal is coming for him, but he also seems to disappear for portions of the match.

I think the best thing that came about from this match was the experience that our young players received. We are going to have other matches in the near future where many of these players will be called upon again to step up and fill the shoes of players gone for international duty. The experience they received will prove to be invaluable.

-Charles (ccb1212)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Welcome to From the Upper Deck

So here it goes. I have decided to start a blog. I have been thinking about doing this for a while now. I have wanted a place where I can share my thoughts in more than the 140 characters that Twitter allows me. So, welcome to From the Upper Deck.

From the Upper Deck will be my blog primarily about Real Salt Lake and soccer in general. Those are the things I am most passionate about. But I might end up writing about other various topics as well. We will have to see. Why call my blog From the Upper Deck? Well, I do admit I struggled to find a good name for my blog. I wanted something related to soccer in some way. That is when the name hit me. The upper deck is my favorite place to watch a match at Rio Tinto Stadium. To go along with that, my thoughts are kind of from a higher perspective. I don't get to go to as many RSL matches as I would like. I have no inside information and very rarely make it out to practice. So my opinions come primarily from what I see on TV or farther away than many others that write RSL blogs. Kind of like watching a match from the upper deck.

So who am I and why am I qualified to write about RSL? I am 36 years old, married with two kids. I attended my first soccer match on August 12th, 2006. This was the RSL match vs. Real Madrid. Up to that point, I had been a very casual fan of RSL. I caught a couple of matches on TV and would listen to interviews on the radio but didn't give them too much thought. When I heard that Real Madrid was coming, I knew that it was a big deal, but didn't really understand why. I didn't really even think about going or anything when I got lucky and won two tickets on the radio. So my wife and I headed to Rice Eccles Stadium for our first ever soccer game. We both were instantly hooked. Since that match, I have become a die hard RSL fan. I also love watching USMNT matches and have also become a big Tottenham fan as well.

I would like to thank all of those RSL blogs that came before me. I have pretty much read them all and appreciate all of their writers. From the AYL soccer blog, to Mind of Scads, to KIR and now with blogs like RSL Soapbox and Real Soccer Nation. You have all helped me shape my own personal opinion of RSL. I want to give special thanks to RSLFM. Her's was the first blog that I ever found and although I didn't always agree with her, she truly helped my RSL fandom grow in its infancy. How I wish she could have seen the type of organization that RSL has become. I know she would be proud.

There you have it. A little bit about myself and an idea of what you might find here. I am eager to really jump into my first post about RSL. The RSL/FC Dallas match finished not too long ago so I have many thoughts that I would like to write about that match. I hope that this will be a blog that someone will find some worth in.

-Charles (ccb1212)