Real Salt Lake faces FC Dallas later today. Here are three things we'll be watching for against a team that's picking up steam behind us in the Western Conference.
Last week we we watched for ...
So, about this Seattle team ... can we play well against them?
Well, actually, yes. We were excellent against Seattle, creating a fair few chances throughout from the run of play, even if we scored only one of those. It was a magnificent one, too, that Mulholland goal and Luis Gil pass.
Can we score from set pieces again?
Actually, yes. With our heads. And it was Joao Plata scoring. That's awesome.
Who starts up top?
Joao Plata, obviously, with Olmes Garcia alongside him again. It worked well and we weren't lacking in chances, encouragingly.
A bonus question: Does Javier Morales start?
Sadly, no. But as we've discussed on the blog in the last few days, Luis Gil was magnificent.
This week, let's watch for ...
Can Luis Gil keep up his play?
Young players are notoriously inconsistent. This isn't meant as a knock on Gil at all. Consistency is a difficult trait to develop and it doesn't come overnight. It may be that Gil is getting there, but he'll have to prove it. Here's hoping, because he's playing in arguably the most important position to our attack. The way he picks up the ball with his back to goal and turns to immediately attack is exciting and rather remarkable.
How do we manage the speed of FC Dallas?
It's the question we've all been asking, but I don't think the answer is particularly complicated. We need to keep our method of play proactive and intelligent. We've proved capable of defending counterattacking play from other sides in the past, and it's not just by putting fast players in defense.
Playing a high line seems less than intuitive, but with Nick Rimando in goal, it's perhaps our best option. He can sprint out to recover long balls without too much trouble, but it is somewhat laden with risk. But let's face it, this is not the sort of side we've ever really been built to face, and there's always going to be risk in playing a possession game against a team that can counter at will.
Do we get a third-straight headed goal from Joao Plata?
Please, yes. But more seriously, if these teams don't start marking Plata better, he's going to start raking these in. His movement is sublime, his touch is fantastic, but he's actually very good with his head and it's easy to forget that when you look at him. The better the movement is with the other, larger players, the greater the probability that Plata can do ti again. He might not get a third-straight one, but he's aiding tools to his arsenal.