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Why does RSL struggle against LA Galaxy? Lack of width allows packed midfield, defense

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Real Salt Lake struggled with passing yesterday, which wasn't particularly surprising given the midfield glut that came to fruition against LA Galaxy.

But we might ask ourselves why that happened. Was it simply because we routinely pack the midfield, and when we came up against a pair of defensive midfielders, we lacked the proper space to operate? With Ned Grabavoy and Luis Gil pushing up in channels on either side - between the flank and the midfield - the opposing fullbacks were made to tuck inside.

We had no real way to push forward high on the flanks after Joao Plata exited; as such, the Galaxy fullbacks remained fairly narrow in defense with little reason to adjust. Without Plata's attacking verve - and ability to push past the defense - we found Olmes Garcia lacking in ideas. It was problematic but not entirely surprising, given he came into the match unexpectedly and has historically struggled earlier in matches - the later periods are when he excels.

But was it down to something so simple? It's difficult to say. Garcia may simply have adjusted his game to play in more narrow positions. He plays best in wide positions on long passes and on the counter, where he can exploit weakness in opposing full backs. But he didn't get a chance to do that, with LA Galaxy playing a notoriously deep-lying game that prevented him from utilizing his most powerful attributes.

Was there an easy solution at hand? Not particularly. If Joao Plata had remained, we might have had a better opportunity for success - he plays best when cutting in from wide positions. We might have had a chance to substitute Olmes Garcia into the match to stretch the match horizontally and vertically, providing threat from wide positions.

We made a good go of it, though. We may not have had great substitution options, but Luis Gil pushed into wide positions frequently and succeeded in several dribbles that could have been differentiators in the match - but with his passing slightly stifled (much like every other midfielder we had on the day), he wasn't able to make as great an impact as we needed.