Bad: The gutted diamond
As I watched Real Salt Lake's win over Toronto FC, I couldn't help but get the impression that, at this point in the still-short season, the formation we're seeing is basically a gutted diamond. That produced some undesirable consequences — mostly that it has, so far, left one of the midfielders wanting. Luke Mulholland was good in a number of ways against Toronto, but controlling the game wasn't one of them.
That's obviously hard when you're surrounded by Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales, who naturally will take over the game. But it leaves them with a heavier workload than is normally desirable — or at least a heavier share of the workload, relatively speaking — because we're basically playing the same formation we were last year, just without one of the midfielders in those central areas. This is one of the more underrated areas of improvement we'll need to see from the team as we play in this new formation.
Good: Open-play crosses
Two headed goals, two crosses from open play. That's probably in part owing to a switch in formational approach, but maybe it also has something to do with a focus on it in training. Both crosses were served in by the immaculate Javier Morales, but the runs for both to create the opportunity were fantastic, too. Something to noodle on, no doubt.
Interesting: The possession game
A lot was made of RSL's possession struggles, but is it really meaningful? If we're going to talk about "meaningful possession" and harp on it endlessly, should we really complain when RSL doesn't possess the ball as frequently? Maybe, but teams tend to have less possession when the opposition is looking for an equalizer — at least that's the impression one gets on a surface level
The question, then: How can Real Salt Lake bring themselves to hold possession when holding a lead? Or is it more important to attempt to extend the lead than play safely? These are important questions.