"A lot of times they come in bunches," RSL coach Jeff Cassar said after his club's 1-0 loss at L.A. Saturday night, "but really the most thing I'm concerned about is the way we're playing and the way we're putting ourselves in position to score."
It's obvious the club is missing all-time leading scorer Alvaro Saborio, out for another couple of months with a broken foot. His ability to score and attract attention from opposing defenses opened things up for Joao Plata's sizzling start to the season. However it can be explained, RSL, now 7-4-7, finds itself in a bit of an offensive rut. The last goal scored in the run of play came in the 23rd minute of RSL's 3-1 loss to Portland when Luke Mulholland slotted one home on June 7. Since then, it's been shutouts or goals scored from the penalty spot.
Players and coaches aren't placing blame on the thin forward corps of Devon Sandoval, Olmes Garcia and Robbie Findley, who is dealing with an injury. The trio has yet to score a league goal in 17 matches this season, the last time a forward scored a goal in the run of play coming when Plata gave RSL an early 1-0 lead in the eventual 2-1 win over Colorado on May 17.
"I feel like we talk about that every year at a certain point," defender Tony Beltran said. "We trust in our forwards, we trust in our midfielders and we know they're capable of finishing off chances. For whatever reason they're not going in right now, so we'll keep working on it in the training ground and keep staying positive. It will come."
Despite the scoring woes, RSL remains fourth in MLS in goals scored with 27, which is both a testament to their hot start and how things could be considerably worse. Wherever the answer lies, the club would be well-served to figure it out as it did early in the season. With four of the next five matches at home, a flurry of goals could help RSL rediscover what it had those first two and a half months of the season.
"We're creating chances it's not like we're not," Cassar said. "That's the most important thing. The goals will come if we continue to put ourselves in that position. The goals will come."
Seattle shuts out Portland
Clint Dempsey and Marco Pappa each scored in the second half to boost the Sounders to a 2-0 win over rival Portland on Sunday.