It's a simple question, really. Are we in a tailspin at Real Salt Lake?
My answer: No. At least not yet, and I don't see any signs that we will be in one.
Sure, we've had a run of poor results — three losses and two draws in our last five games — but it's not our worst run in the last four years. 2013 was significantly better, with us dropping points in only three consecutive matches. Twice in 2012, we dropped points in four consecutive matches. And once in 2011, when we remarkably had to scrape into the playoffs, we dropped points in six consecutive matches to end the season.
This isn't to say we were terrible then, or that we are somehow worse under Jeff Cassar. I mean, maybe we are — but we don't know that yet. Not by the base of this evidence. This is MLS, and these sorts of runs just sort of happen. It's a shame and it's frustrating and it's hard to handle sometimes, but the ebb and flow of an MLS season is enough to drive a person insane.
Do we have problems that need solutions? Yes, and I don't think there's any controversy in asserting this. Some of those include:
- We don't have a proper solution without Kyle Beckerman in the side. This isn't down to the players at our disposal: It's that Beckerman is perhaps the most important player in our tactical outlay. Without him, we have historically struggled. We've coped well enough for a game or two, but after that, we tend to fight to pick up points.
- We're still not playing great soccer, even with all our players available. We might not get there in short order, with Alvaro Saborio out of the side — another player we depend on heavily.
- Some of our young players are finding things difficult. Chief among these is Olmes Garcia, whose goalscoring record is becoming more barren by the week. We need those players stepping up, but we also need our veterans guiding them along, and, when the moment is right, playing an unselfish ball to give them a clear opportunity. It'll pay dividends.
We're not in a great place right now, but it's not the worst we've been in. We have every opportunity to recover and pull out of what could be a tailspin — but it's important to remember that we're not there now.