Set pieces: RSL needs to renew focus on defense after month of struggles

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, Real Salt Lake put themselves in a dreadful position by a lack of authority on set pieces and transitionary crosses into the box, with Portland Timbers taking advantage and taking an early lead when Rodney Wallace fired a header home from a set piece cross.

The second time Timbers took the lead, they did so with a cross into the box that saw Nat Borchers tasked with defending two players, one of whom sat upon him after they got tangled up. Again, that's poor defending, and it's not as if we've not been acquainted with that in recent weeks.

It's a little disturbing, conceding from the same sorts of plays over and over. It's marked losses to Sporting Kansas City and New York Red Bulls. It marked that draw against Colorado, and it marked the draw last night.

Quite simply, set piece defending has been thrown out the window. The causes could be many — is it about having a consistent partner for Nat Borchers? Is it about focusing on them in training? Is it down to somebody simply taking charge of the problem?

We're scoring goals, and that's great. We're probably looking as good as we've ever looked, less the leaky defense. Clean that up — and, well, we'd be well and truly in the lead by now, wouldn't we? We've dropped at least 9 points in the last month because of it. It's time we figure out what we're doing.

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