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2015 RSL Resolutions: Do Not Give Up the Lead

We're going over some of the resolutions we think Real Salt Lake should be thinking about in 2015, and today, we're looking at not giving up the lead.

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Before we get too far, let's be clear that Real Salt Lake is not the only team in the league that gave up their leads last year. It happens to every team at some point, and every fan across the league will tell you it happens more often than they would like.

That said, a New Year's resolution for RSL in 2015 should be to minimize the times that they give up a lead to their opponent. You could easily tweak that resolution to say "don't give up any last minute goals." Those hurt more than just giving up a lead as they come in the dying seconds of the game just when you think you have a nice result in hand. Two games stick out.

First is the game on the road against the Philadelphia Union back on April 12th. Olmes Garcia earned a PK early on in the 4th minute. Alvaro Saborio took the shot and it was saved, but Luke Mulholland converted on the rebound. Andrew Wenger tied it up in the 55th minute and for the next 20 to 25 minutes RSL squandered three clear scoring chances. Kyle Beckerman converted on a nice pass from Javier Morales and then just when RSL were about to take home three points on the road, they gave up a goal in the 90th minute. Those emotional roller coasters are perhaps as costly as the points lost.

The other prime example of giving up the lead was in April against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Joao Plata and Alvaro Saborio got early goals to take a nice 2-0 lead very early in the game within about 10 minutes. Over the coarse of the game, things were going just fine until two goals were allowed after the 89th minute and RSL took one point away instead of three. It was one of those games where a tie feels like a horrible loss and a gut punch to the stomach.

Are these sorts of games the end of the world? No. But they do show weaknesses in being able to close out games and they are the difference between a higher seed in the MLS Playoffs, a legitimate shot at the Supporters' Shield, or qualifying for CONCACAF Cham.

If anything, it would make everyone's lives a bit less frustrating if we could do without these head-shaking late goal concessions. If RSL can learn to close out the games in which they have early leads, they will benefit at the end of the season in a big way and control their own destiny.