One of the greatest honors for a soccer player is to play for their national team. RSL had four players called up for international duty for the upcoming Gold Cup. While everyone is excited for Saborio (Costa Rica), Beltran (US), Beckerman (US) and Rimando (US), it does leave a large void in RSL's starting lineup. People have been saying that RSL is the deepest team in MLS. Now is the time to see if that statement is, in fact, correct.
How long will each of these players be gone for? That depends on how deep the US and Costa Rica advances in the Gold Cup. The final match of the Gold Cup is going to be held on July 28th. The following is a break down of what we might see to fill the holes while these players are gone:
Alvaro Saborio- (potential games missed- @TFC, vs Philly, @Dal, vs KC, @NY) Saborio has already left to join up with his team. He will be missing the game in Toronto. The players called up to the US squad won't leave until after the Toronto match.
As strange as it would have sounded at the start of the year, Saborio is probably the easiest person to be able to replace while he is gone. RSL is extremely deep at forward at the moment with all five forwards on the roster playing very well. RSL scores a goal every 81.88 minutes that Saborio is on the field. That is actually the worst stat among all RSL forwards. His leadership and experience on the field will be missed though.
In his place I could see Devon Sandoval getting more time. Sandoval is the only other target forward on the roster and has played well so far this season. The other option that I could see would be to play the combination of Robbie Findley and Joao Plata. This was the partnership of choice for the team in the last three matches prior to Saborio returning to the lineup for the Seattle match. Olmes Garcia is the wildcard. He might be inserted into the starting lineup, but I think it is more likely that he will continue to come in off the bench.
Nick Rimando- (potential games missed- vs Philly, @Dal, vs KC, @NY) It was no surprise that Rimando got called up to the Gold Cup roster. US coach Jurgen Klinsmann has said that Rimando was number three among US keepers only behind Tim Howard and Brad Guzan.
While Rimando is gone, Josh Saunders will be minding the net for RSL. Saunders is a two time MLS Cup winner that was brought into the team for this purpose. He has posted wins in all three US Open Cup games that RSL has played in. But the team did lose the one MLS match he was in goal.
Kyle Beckerman- (potential games missed- vs Philly, @Dal, vs KC, @NY) With Beckerman being the only defensive midfielder on the US Gold Cup team, expect for him to get a lot of playing time. The thought around the country is that he will also be the captain for this squad.
The loss of Beckerman will be hard to overcome in the RSL midfield. The job will fall to Yordany Alvarez. Alvarez has started two games already this year with the team and is a solid backup. He does need to play smart when he is in as he has gotten unnecessary yellows in the past including a red card this year against Dallas. The area of most concern might not be on the defensive side of things but on the offensive side of the ball. When Beckerman plays, the team scores a goal every 53.79 minutes. When he has not played, that number drops to every 119.50 minutes.
Tony Beltran- (potential games missed- vs Philly, @Dal, vs KC, @NY) Beltran earned his first national call-up earlier this year. After a solid first half of the season, it is no surprise to see him called up again.
Beltran might be the hardest player to replace for RSL. Statistically he has been the best defender on the team. While he is on the pitch, the team gives up a goal every 122.73 minutes. In the two games he did not play, the team gave up five goals or a goal every 36.00 minutes.
The job of replacing Beltran will fall to the combination of Lovel Palmer and Abdoulie Mansally. Both have seen playing time this year. The team has played well in the 360 minutes that Mansally has played, only giving up three goals (a goal every 120 minutes) but has struggled with Palmer on the field. RSL has given up a goal every 59.33 minutes that Palmer has played. But to Palmer's credit: his shot in Montreal did force a Montreal own goal.
RSL will have a stiff challenge in front of them. The schedule becomes really tough the next few matches. RSL has never won in Toronto and the next four games after that are all against teams that would currently qualify for the playoffs. Many players are going to have to step up for RSL to have continued success.