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.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Questions About Depth

View from the Upper Deck
By Charles Barnard

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

I am sure that was the reaction of some RSL fans on social media after last week’s loss in Champions League. And I think that reaction would be very harsh. For the first 60 minutes of the match the team actually looked really good. Would I have liked a better result than a 2-0 loss? Of course I would have. But on the whole I think RSL put forth a very respectable effort all things considered.

Now that we have seen the team in action, I think some questions do need to be addressed. My biggest frustration at the end of the match was Coach Cassar not using his third sub. I think this might be my biggest pet peeve in soccer. In my mind, you have three subs and you should use them! Especially when it was clear to see the team was running out of gas.

After expressing these thoughts on Twitter, @JKBranin made a very good point that got me thinking.

“Who would you have subbed in/out? Half of me is frustrated it wasn’t used. Half of me is frustrated there was no one worth bringing in.”

Who would I have brought in? I don’t know. While unlike some I am a big fan of Sandoval. But I don’t think he is what was needed in that match. And who would you take out for him? I guess Stertzer could have been an option. You didn’t need Glad or Wingert in that match.

You know who would have been a good option? Luis Silva. I am sure he was somewhere in the stadium but he wasn’t wearing an RSL kit. What about Mansally? I would have liked to seen his fresh legs getting forward into the attack. What about Jaime coming in providing a spark off the bench? 

Now I know even if we still had all these players on the roster that they wouldn’t have all been on the bench the other night. But it leads me to a question. Do we have a depth problem on the team this season? Yes, we all know and are worried about our lack of depth at center back. That is a huge issue. But I am talking about the lack of depth for the whole team in general.

I don’t think I really thought about this too much in the off season. Did the signing of Yura blind me to how many players we actually lost? Just look at the list.


Honestly did I want all of these players to come back? Absolutely not.  We needed to shake things up. The point I am wondering is this. Did we bring enough talent to not only replace these players but to also improve as a team?

I went back and added up minutes played for players that were on the roster last year that are no longer with the team. The total came to 7658 minutes. That is a lot of minutes to replace. The breakdown of those minutes is 2515 for forwards, 2116 for midfielders, and 3027 on the back line. Those minutes will have to be filled. The question is who is going to fill them?
Now I am sure that Yura will take up a big chunk of that time. And Burrito and Plata will (knock on wood) play more minutes than they did last season. Sunday will take up some of those minutes as well (or steal minutes from Luke). I think these are upgrades to what we had last season. And hopefully the team will get some good luck and sign a center back or two.

Is the sky falling? There is no way you can say that after one game. My question is during the dog days of summer when players start getting injured do we have enough quality off the bench to keep us competitive? That question can’t be answered today, especially since our roster is not set in stone. But I do think it is a question that we as fans should keep our eyes on over the course of the season. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Return to the Upper Deck

By Charles Barnard

I am here to announce that I am bringing my writing talents (or lack thereof) back to my blog From the Upper Deck.
When I started this blog back in 2013 I wanted a place where I could express my thoughts on all things RSL. I named it From the Upper Deck because that was my viewpoint at the time. I had no team access. All I knew was what I could see from my TV or from my favorite seats at Rio Tinto (hence the name of the blog). I was just a fan that randomly spouted off stats on Twitter. 
And then something I didn’t expect started to happen. My blog really started to grow. I discovered that the media relations side of the team was really awesome to work with. People like Trey, and when he was still there Sam, helped with their time and treated my blog with a respect that it probably hadn’t earned to that point. I was given the opportunity to interview players, members of the front office, and the coaching staff. It was awesome.
The blog continued to grow. I was proud of what I had created. Even though I loved writing about stats, my series looking at what the RSL family meant to people (players, coaches, fans) was probably the thing I enjoyed writing the most. Some of the stories that people told me were incredibly powerful. I still tear up reading some of them two years later.
But as the blog continued to grow, so did the time it took to maintain it. It takes a lot of time out of my life just to maintain the stats that I keep track of. And on top of that I was trying to grow this blog. Not only was it taking away from time with my family it was starting to burn me out. So even though I was having some incredible experiences I let the blog die.
Even keeping stats started to be a grind. Through most of this past off season I debated with myself if I would even continue to tweet out my stats. But as the season started to get closer I knew I would dive back in. I just love stats too much to give them up. I also wanted to write again, but was more hesitant to even think about that.
Then something happened  that I didn’t expect. I had thoughts about last Wednesday's game and the team in general that I wanted to express. So I just started to write. 700 words later and I had a blog post ready to go. This leads me to this reintroduction to myself and the blog.
I know things will be different this time. I won’t post as much as I did in the past. I don’t want to burn out again and my family needs to come first. Will I put some of my stats up here? I am not sure but I probably will. One thing I will do is that I want to write more about my thoughts on the team.  I am going to call these editorials Views From the Upper Deck. I am back to my original view of the team where I don’t have any inside access (although I am sure the team would support me if asked). I am just that guy that randomly tweets out stats and will put my thoughts here on the blog. I hope you enjoy it.