Swagger, for Real Salt Lake they have for a couple years played with a swagger, not a cocky one but rather the confidence to know that they can play with anyone and beat anyone they are playing. Since the loss in the Champions League final, they hadn't really played with that swagger. You would see minutes of it in each match, but not much and never enough to make fans feel confident that they would get over that big loss and then the loss of Javier Morales to injury. Well on Saturday night it was back.
If you just look at the score, you can see that RSL for the second time in June scored multiple goals, but it was only the 2nd time since the Champions league final. The two goals for Alvaro Saborio were his first goals this year in MLS actions, Robbie Russell got an assist on both of Sabo's goals. Kyle Beckerman got an assist on one of Sabo's and on Nat Borchers' goal, Nat's was also his first of the 2011 MLS season.
All those are great things for the team, but what impressed me most was the 591 passes and the 88% completion rate on those passes, that is simply an amazing number. In fact the only other team to have more than 500 passes last weekend was the Columbus Crew, who played against a 10 man Colorado team, they had 516 passes and completed 90% of them. Most teams didn't break 400 passes in their matches.
more after the jump:
So if you read my match previews you know I have really harped on a couple of things that I think RSL need to do to dominate matches they way I know they are capable of, first is possession and sure enough on Saturday they held 70.1% of the possession. I didn't get the first half number but I am willing to bet it was even higher, by possessing the ball they forced Toronto to react to what RSL wanted to do, it allowed RSL to spread them out and then look for the openings and it worked well.
The second big thing I have been focused on is taking shots, each week when I watch MLS action I see keepers juggle a ball or two and teams who can pounce on them to convert them to goals tend to win their matches, well RSL took 19 shots on Saturday and put 10 of them on goal. I believe that Frei kept Toronto from losing this one 5 or 6-1, his defense was awful but he kept his team alive as long as he could. Along with the 19 shots RSL took, they kept TFC to just 6 shots. TFC had averaged over 17 shots per match in their last 3, so possession allowed RSL to almost completely take the TFC offense out of the match.
Now I will add one more little thing, I had to laugh a couple times during the match as I would look up and see Joao Plata next to Jamison Olave and I kept wondering when security was going to come out and get the kid off the pitch. He is a talented player but wow it just looked really strange to see someone that much smaller than the other players on the pitch.
I am hoping to see RSL play a very dominant match against Wilmington, similar numbers should be expected against a team we should be able to play well against.
OFF MY SOAPBOX