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How They Scored: RSL profit from dangerous set pieces

James Bosworth

RSL Goal #1: Robbie Findley makes the simple (but difficult) finish

When we look at that first goal from Robbie Findley (both the first in the match and the first of his second stint at RSL), a few things pop out. 1) Tony Beltran's throw-in to the near post shows how important it can be to serve in balls to dangerous areas. 2) Devon Sandoval's ability to hold off the strong Djimi Traore doesn't go unnoticed here. It certainly would seem he intended to have that ball bounce up and over, and to have the presence of mind to do that in the box during his first professional start speaks very, very highly of Sandoval. 3) Findley being alive to the possibility of a whiffed clearance got him that goal. It wasn't speed of legs, but speed of thought.

RSL Goal #2: Luis Gil finishes off a training ground move

Let's break it down a little bit before we talk about this goal. Sebastian Velasquez is taking the corner, Ned Grabavoy is in the center of the box. He's not exactly a target man, so we've got our first clue that something is different about this corner kick. Rather than sending the ball straight into the center of action — where it's always likely to be cleared by the Seattle defense — Gil pushes it along the touchline to meet Grabavoy's run. Seattle's young Yedlin makes a half-hearted effort (the only thing he did half-hearted all night, it seems) to follow Grabavoy there, but a quick flick-on from Grabavoy toward the center of the box is placed perfectly for the unmarked Luis Gil to head home. Gspurning, with perhaps his error of the night, steps centrally to cover the near post despite having a player marking that spot, leaving the far post open for Gil's header.

Three things to notice from this goal: 1) Ned Grabavoy is perhaps the most clever player on the pitch for Real Salt Lake in the first half (Javier Morales perhaps bests him in players to have seen any time), timing his run perfectly to keep Seattle off their guard. His little flick-on works exactly as planned. 2) It's easy to forget that Gil is great with his head, isn't it? For my worries about Gil's ability to influence and dictate the pace of a match, his awareness always shines through. 3) For all of Michael Gspurning's shot-stopping heroics, he fails completely here. His defense is unorganized and unaware, and part of a goalkeeper's responsibility on set pieces is organizing the players around him. How, exactly, was Luis Gil left unmarked there?

Seattle Goal #1: Evans sneaks one in

DeAndre Yedlin probably hasn't received enough praise for this goal, but it should be considered that he's been given a free crossing opportunity here. Real Salt Lake's defense is incredibly narrow here; with Joao Plata the closest man to Yedlin, there's something wrong. Ned Grabavoy is perhaps too tucked in as well. Yedlin's cross, though, was fantastic, dropping into the top of the box where RSL is vulnerable, Mauro Rosales did well to lay it off, and Brad Evans made no mistake.

1) RSL was far too narrow. Surrendering the flanks is one thing, but giving Yedlin a free crossing opportunity when Seattle has three men in the box and two deep in RSL's defensive third is negligence. 2) Brad Evans starts play on the cross behind Kyle Beckerman, but the Real Salt Lake captain doesn't catch his run and is left in the cold. 3) When Evans took his shot, there were four men from each side in the box. Tony Beltran may have created a deflection with his attempted tackle, but he was alive to the danger, and that's much more important. Otherwise, Evans would have had a shockingly clear shot on goal.