Attacking left back Mansally not heavily targeted by opponents

USA TODAY Sports

Abdoulie Mansally has taken a bit of stick for his performances in 2012, particularly for being very much an attacking full back. The argument, as it goes, is that his attacking bent leaves RSL vulnerable on our left side.

Let's quantify that a bit. We're looking here at the opponent and the opponents attacking patterns, albeit not in a particularly comprehensive manner. First, let's define what we mean: Opponent passes attacking on the right are passes made in the area between the midfield stripe and end touchline, between the keeper's box and the sideline.

Player, Opponent Opp. passes, right att Opp. passes total (%) Opp. passes, left att
Mansally v San Jose (A) 37/60 (62%), 17% total 309/438 (70%) 32/54 (59%), 12% total
Mansally v DC United (A) 32/46 (70%), 11% total 293/434 (68%) 52/74 (70%), 17% total
Palmer v Colorado (H) 18/28 (64%), 10% total 202/298 (68%) 20/27 (74%), 9% total
Palmer v FC Dallas (A) 17/36 (47%), 9% total 301/407 (74%) 35/56 (63%), 14% total
Mansally v Seattle (H) 40/50 (80%), 12% total 300/405 (74%) 59/76 (78%), 19% total
Mansally v Colorado (A) 51/84 (61%), 25% total 219/339 (65%) 22/28 (79%), 8% total

Obviously, it's difficult to make definitive claims about our opponents' styles without inspecting them in greater depth than we are doing here. That's a story for another day — but what we are looking at is whether Mansally seems to be targeted more heavily than, say, Tony Beltran, or whoever has been playing at right back.

To my, there's only one particular match in which Mansally was genuinely targeted, and that was in the most recent match against Colorado. With 25 percent of attacks coming down our left side, there seemed to be a real strategy from the Rapids: Attack Mansally. While he was involved in the concession of the goal — and indeed, he should have been better defensively — that attack didn't come about as a result of attacking down the left side.

Let's also talk about how the goals we've conceded were scored.

1. DC United 1-0 Real Salt Lake: Poor defending across the board on a set piece, Nick Rimando makes a brilliant save, and Pajoy puts away the rebound without much trouble.

2. RSL 1-1 Colorado Rapids: Chris Schuler misplays a ball in possession, giving Deshorn Brown an easy opportunity and run at goal; his goal comes about after that pretty naturally.

3. FC Dallas 2-0 RSL (1): Castillo picks up a good cross-field ball and scores a fantastic finish from RSL's right side.

4. FC Dallas 2-0 RSL (2): Lovel Palmer plays a back pass to Josh Saunders, whose first touch gives Jackson an opportunity to finish.

5. RSL 2-1 Seattle: Brad Evans scores after a Yedlin cross isn't dealt with in the center.

6. Colorado 1-0 RSL: Nobody deals with a ball into the center, Borchers lets Buddle turn, Schuler falls and doesn't recover quickly, and Mansally leaves his man — Atiba Harris — who scores the goal.

Let the numbers speak for themselves. Certainly Mansally hasn't been perfect for RSL, but aside from that last goal, he's not really been at fault on an individual basis. More worryingly, Real Salt Lake has been falling victim to two things: individual mistakes and crosses.

There may be something more to worry about with the tactical use of Mansally, but it's not necessarily that his attacking style leaves RSL more targeted by opponents.

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