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Real Salt Lake 0 - Chicago Fire 0 - match thoughts

 Well a road draw isn't the worst thing that could happen and when you consider the suspension of Jean Alexandre and then the fact that RSL had to sub out an injured Fabian Espindola in the 7th minute of the match a draw actually doesn't seem bad at all.

I thought RSL was clearly the better team in the first half, the possessed the ball, they completed passes and took some shots despite a Chicago Fire team that was much more interested in playing defense and trying to counter attack.  That showed in the stats at halftime:

  • Shots - 7
  • Shots on Goal - 2
  • Passes - 231
  • Passing Accuracy - 80%
  • Possession - 57.5%

So if we review what I thought were the keys to the match in my match preview, they were:

  • Possession = 55% or higher
  • Passing Accuracy 75-80%
  • Holding Chicago to fewer than 12 shots
  • Don't let the official decide the match

I think that RSL did exactly what they needed to do and had a couple balls go just over the crossbar and forced Sean Johnson to make a big save on a shot by Collen Warner.

the second half thoughts after the jump:

So here are the final numbers of the match for RSL:

  • Shots - 11
  • Shots on Goal - 2
  • Passes - 420
  • Passing Accuracy - 76%
  • Possession - 52.9%
  • Chicago Shots - 13
  • Chicago Shots on goal - 4
Clearly in the second half the Fire played better than in the first half, they limited RSL's attack to just 4 shots and none of them on goal, our passing percentage and possession went down.  We did keep the Fire to fewer shots than they had been averaging but their passing got much better in the second half as both teams really battled in the midfield and neither side looked extremely dangerous on offense.

I was impressed that RSL was the attacking side, something they hadn't been doing as much as I would like to see on the road.  I thought the early sub of Luis Gil was going to likely slow down the RSL attack, as the guys we had up top had a total of 179 minutes of MLS action coming into this match.  Yet I thought they did well for a team on the road.  The RSL midfield was huge as they simply prevented the Fire from getting many chances to launch their speedy players on offense, it was some great work from Ned Grabavoy and Will Johnson to shut down the outside, and in the back it was Tony Beltran who was huge and played the entire length of the pitch.  Of course it was a team effort and both starters and subs were very solid in this one.

I am proud of our guys facing some adversity on the road and playing much better than they did in Philly last week, now they can come home and get ready to take care of Toronto FC on Saturday.