"We need to be building," Waibel said. "We need to watch some maturity happen, and it needs to be tangible."
The result was a home loss, but there were definitely building blocks laid. Lennon, 19, and Saucedo, 20, did not shy away from the bright lights that hit them when they joined the starting lineup. The young attacking talents stood up and showed that they're ready to contribute and ready to push for minutes.
In the locker room before the match, RSL midfielder Luke Mulholland said veterans were telling them to "express themselves" in the match, to take defenders 1-on-1, to create the way they know how to do.
"I thought they did an exceptional job," Mulholland said. "I'm disappointed that we weren't able to get all three points for them."
RSL's start (0-2-1) to 2017 has been way too much mixing and matching for Jeff Cassar's taste. The injuries keep on coming. Joao Plata (hip) and Jordan Allen (quad) were out, so the two youngsters stepped in as the next options on the revolving team depth chart: Lennon, on loan in 2017 from Liverpool, and Saucedo, who grew up in Park City.
"Obviously we need to get into a good, solid rotation of players," Cassar said. "We're rotating for need and necessity, not because we want to do it tactically."
Saucedo's flair on the ball caused issues for the L.A. backline early. His pinpoint third-minute cross found Lennon at the 6-yard mark, but the volley attempt sliced wide, thwarting what would've been a moment to remember. Lennon routinely chased down long balls sent his way and whipped in dangerous crosses toward forward Yura Movsisyan.
"I thought they were phenomenal, honestly," Movsisyan said. "We had, as a team, high expectations for them. And I think that they delivered and every time they got the ball, they look to go forward and beat their player and that's what you want from your wide players."
Unfortunately, the sample size is quite small.
A second yellow to midfielder Kyle Beckerman forced RSL to hunker down and deal with the disadvantage for the last half, changing the dynamic of what Lennon and Saucedo brought when RSL was operating at full strength for much of the first half.
"I liked everything about what they did," Cassar said.
Did they do enough to earn another shot next week?
RSL will be without Beckerman (suspension) and two more starters in goalkeeper Nick Rimando (U.S.) and Albert Rusnák (Slovakia), off on World Cup qualifying duty with their respective national teams. Without their central playmaker in Rusnák, RSL's style at the New York Red Bulls next Saturday will be different, Movsisyan said.
Which isn't a bad thing if the youngsters can build off what they put on display in their first impression.
"I think the [young] guys that played today stepped up, showed up," he said.
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