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Three things RSL got right in 4-2 win over Portland — especially the midfield

George Frey

How'd we beat Portland so handily on Sunday? Three things that define Sunday's match, and unsurprisingly, the midfield takes the center stage.

1) Javier Morales played in wider positions, playing a little more on the right side than the left side. By taking up wider positions than he usually does, opening lanes in the middle for Luis Gil and Sebastian Velasquez to work. It also afforded Morales space and time on the ball - a stark contrast to the last match in Portland, where nothing really flowed as it should because everything had become untenably clogged through the middle. With Morales in wide positions, Velasquez and Gil essentially formed a pairing patrolling the middle, with Beckerman beneath them. It exemplifies the flexibility of the diamond midfield, particularly when the point of the diamond is allowed to float.

2) Chris Schuler pushed higher than Nat Borchers, narrowing the defensive approach considerably. This was somewhat metered by the preponderance of deep positions held by Kyle Beckerman (see below), but with Chris Schuler as the closing player and Borchers as the containment player, the defensive approach was altered - and with good effect. The first goal was created not out of a tactical error, but out of an individual error - a needless foul when play was under control. The second goal was created through a slight bit of inattention when we were up 4-1, which doesn't excuse the goal, but does offer some sort of explanation toward it.

3) Kyle Beckerman retreated into deeper positions into a hybrid defensive role, at times playing even deeper than Schuler and Borchers. In fact, Beckerman attempted (and completed) only two passes in the attacking third. He wasn't quite a third central defender, but he wasn't far off. Beckerman is no stranger to being a deep-lying playmaker, but that role has often been forgone in exchange for a more attacking slant to his play. This had two major effects: The remaining midfielders were freed up to move in more attacking ways with Beckerman playing more defensively, and there was additional room in the midfield areas for those freed players to operate.