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Real Salt Lake at Philadelphia Union - match thoughts from the 1-1 draw

Not doing a whole match thread but I will be posting a couple updates of my thoughts on the match.

First 15 minutes, well RSL had a good first 5 but the last 10 minutes have been all Philly and the usually sure passing of RSL is looking really rough early and have had a couple of bad turnovers.  The defense has been there to stop the Union but most of the match has been played in the RSL half of the pitch.

At 22 minutes the Union develop a great play and put the ball in the back of the net but the flag is up, curiously and the goal is waived off.  Not sure I agree with that call, and so far I think Robbie Russell has been taken advantage of a couple times early in this match, he will need to do better.

RSL isn't able to keep any possession and the Union come right back down the pitch and get a goal in the 23rd minute as Keon Daniel is left unmarked in the area.  He is killing Robbie Russell so far today.

RSL usually has 60 plus percent of possession, but 25 minutes in today and they are at 45%, with 1 weak shot  and passing under 80%.  Those numbers will lead to a loss today, so something has to change.\

more after the jump:

RSL string together a couple passes and put a nice ball into the area but there is nobody there and Philly just get right back on their attack and 30 minutes in it has only been the keeping of Nick Rimando that has kept this from being a 2 or 3 goal lead for the Union.  Even when RSL has the ball it is a lot of very negative passing, I keep waiting for Andy to settle things down with some passes, or for Fabi to get the ball and make a run.  Somebody, anybody other than Nick going to step up?

RSL finally spend some time on the Philly half of the pitch and actually control some possession of the ball and get over the 50% mark but not much more.  A couple of good chances but only one shot from 5 minutes in the Philly end of the pitch.

It is 1-0 at the half and RSL have to be thinking they have dodged some bullets as it could easily be 4-0 at this point if it weren't for some big saves by Rimando.  Philly has taken 3x more shots (9 to 3) than RSL and have had 4 on goal (including the goal) to RSL's 0.  RSL have taken back the possession lead but a lot of that was some slowing down of the action and a lot of negative passes.  The passing accuracy is up to 78% for RSL, but they still seem to really be off their game.  Just a note RSL is playing just their second day match of the year, the last one was a 1-0 win over Chivas at Rio Tinto, but that came a very high cost.

So I set 3 things that I thought RSL would need to do to get a win:

57% or better possession - they are short of that mark at the half

20 shots, we have just 3 shots

Playing 100 minutes, RSL came out OK in the first 5, but then Philly simply took over for the vast majority of the half. RSL must dominate possession and take shots (even bad ones) to keep the pressure on Philly. 60% of the goals scored against the Union come in the second half.  Never lose faith in what our boys can do.

Second Half

Well there you go, RSL is looking more like the team we expect to see, some passing, a little more possession and a great effort by Fabian Espindola to get the match back to even.  How important was his getting a goal last weekend to his confidence, he looked great on that one and a super pass by Jean again.  

55 minutes in it is all even at 1-1.

Well there are 15 minutes left in the match and it has been a much better second half for RSL, much more like what we expect to see from them.  5 shots to 2 shots, in the second half as RSL are more offensive, better possession (almost 55% on the match) and passing up to 78%.  They need to maintain pressure as clearly the Union will go more offensive with their subs and look for the full 3 points at home.

This one has turned into a good match in the second half but I still think RSL need to find a way to get the full three points, and if they keep up this work and quality we might just get it.  Gotta play hard until the whistle blows.

A hard earned road point, you have to believe that given the first half where RSL looked simply awful that getting a 1-1 draw isn't the worst thing that could happen.  Still I thought RSL should have and will have to do better than what they did in the first half.  I wonder if they had had 7 shots (their second half total) in the first half instead of 1 if it would have been a different result.  They simply didn't dominate possession like they usually do, but still ended up with 52.3% of the ball and their passing accuracy was 76% with 421 passes (50 more than Philly).

I expected a bit more from RSL, and if they can find a way to play a full 90 plus minutes like they played the second half then I think anyone with worries should be happy.  Remember this was a Philly team that beat New York at home and held LA to a 1-1 draw, they are one of the elite teams this year and RSL just showed that despite call ups, injuries, and a horrible first half that they are as well.