What we've learned: Defense, health remain vulnerable points

Christian Petersen

There are inevitably some things Real Salt Lake needs to work on as the season rushes in. Let's go over some of those as we look ahead to Sunday.

Counterattacks. We still struggle to deal with balls over the top and counterattacks at times. I mean, it's part of the system we play: Always trying to be on the front foot, we look to score from opportunities we create in the final third. When long balls come in, we sometimes struggle. There are a lot of places we can improve in this regard - for example, the defense should be more aggressive with those sorts of chances coming at them - but it's always going to be a point at which se struggle.

Fitness. We're looking for full match fitness, and we're likely to see some late struggling in the first week of the season - not just from us, but from most sides in MLS. We're dangerously close, but we only saw 90 minutes from the veterans at the end of the preseason.

Health. We're still struck by injuries a little. While Nat Borchers, Javier Morales and Chris Wingert are out, we'll have to work hard to replace those three starters in the lineup. Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Sebastian Velasquez and Kenny Mansally are all three capable, but how the fare is still a bit up in the air.

Set pieces. When was the last time we scored from a set piece? It really is difficult to remember precisely — but it's something that should be worked on. Defending set pieces, too, is important, and we should improve there. Enhanced communication around the back line will help; I suspect this will come in time.

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