Thursday Night Futbol - Pitchers' Duel

It wasn't for lack of trying, but a combination of less-than-lethal finishing, great goalkeeping, and a pathetic playing surface conspired to deliver 90+ minutes of scoreless soccer until FC Dallas' Dominic Oduro bagged a gift-wrapped winner courtesy of Jack Stewart. Both sides had their chances, with Dallas probably shading the first half and RSL dominating the opening stages of the second, but neither side could finish.

Sala and Rimando each had some remarkable saves to keep the sheets clean as Eskandarian for RSL and Alvarez for Dallas looked the most likely scorers. It has to be said that Arturo Alvarez suffers from Acute Justin-Mapp-itis, brilliant for about 10-15 minutes, showing a deft touch, surprising bursts of speed, and some flashy dribbling, only to go AWOL for the majority of the match.

In the end, there were probably 4 major villains of the piece:
  1. The Pitch - Holy crap, that rug sucks! RSL has some decent passers and dribblers, but none can really show their stuff on that putting green as the ball runs too much. Through balls are pretty much useless as they usually carry to the keeper or go out of bounds before a runner can reach them and there is no mercy for a less-than-perfect first touch as the ball is well away from you before you know it.
  2. The Ref - Salazar has generally been pretty good this year, and he remained so for about the first 70-75 minutes of this game. But when push literally came to shove in the late going, he was found wanting. I don't blame Kreis for getting himself ejected as frustrations built rapidly all around the park.
  3. The RSL Front Office - Great job bullying your way to a new stadium deal, but you've got to put a decent product on the field if you want to fill said stadium. They've assembled about half of a capable MLS squad - just call them FC Crewzers West. Is it any wonder that they've gone a third of the season without a win?
  4. ESPN - Regardless of the quality of the match, you could at least try to present it professionally and appropriately. How long will it take the good folks at ESPN to realize that there are others out there (even some on Spanish-language networks in this country) that know how to broadcast a game? All you have to do is watch a few to get the idea. Soccer doesn't need "filler" during the game - that means no Posh throwing baseballs, no cutaways to sideline interviews, no La Liga highlights, no Eddie Pope career retrospective discussions. Save that stuff for halftime or the pre-game! And if you need to show a replay, for God's sake do it during a substitution or a break for injury or, heck, why not try waiting for the ball to be out of play? How many times do we have to be treated to replays and video irrelevant to the current match during live play? Oh, yeah - FIRE STONER! Lack of professionalism, cheerleader mentality, general fluff-puffiness suitable for Power Rangers not professional sports, blah blah blah. I know, I know, broken records and all.
In the final analysis, RSL is improving. They were within minutes of having three consecutive scoreless draws. I don't envy Kreis the job ahead of him. With the tools he has to work with, he'll be lucky not to finish at the bottom of the league. A starting central midfield of Chris Lancos and Atiba Harris? Are you kidding me? It's going to be interesting to see what RSL becomes without the Freddy factor during the U-20's. Will they be a more, or less, effective side - and if they're more effective, where does that leave the Golden Child? So many questions - so few obvious answers.

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