It's a question we're all asking ourselves after Saturday night's 1-0 loss to Vancouver Whitecaps: Why couldn't Real Salt Lake score? It's a question made all the more interesting by the two red cards for Real Salt Lake, neither of which were particularly damning in the team's attempt to score.
We've dug into the statistics from the match in a rather desperate attempt to figure out why that was the case.
1) Not capitalizing on clear-cut opportunities
Several times, an excellent scoring chance went begging with a missed shot or a missed pass. Alvaro Saborio had an excellent chance on the right side of the box one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but his shot was as poor an attempt as we've seen from him. There were too many times when a quick pass wasn't taken, a free kick was taken right at the goalkeeper, or a corner kick didn't clear the near post.
2) Poor passing statistics on the flanks
While RSL had the run of play in the center locked down well — a credit to Luis Gil and Luke Mulholland's play without Javier Morales involved — the outside was a different story. Demar Phillips and Tony Beltran both did very well in the middle third, but Jordan Allen and Olmes Garcia were fairly ineffective in build-up play. This isn't an attempt to blame either player, of course. There's an inevitability to that sort of metric when the opposition is playing a very measured, reserved game.
3) Tactical differences in attacking midfield
Luis Gil did an admirable job in build-up play — probably the best we've seen from him in a while — but his passing in the attacking third simply wasn't there. Javier Morales brings something definitive to the side with his diagonal passing to the forwards; Luis Gil, instead of having that immense passing vision, has a greater desire to run at players and beat them on the dribble. While that's a valuable asset, and it's something that separates Gil from most players on this team, it's not always going to play out in the same way.