Real Salt Lake plays New York City FC on Saturday, and while both sides are looking for a win, the story is more about revenge, homecomings, and comings-of-age. But for RSL, the focus will be very much on just getting three points and stabilizing a shaky start.
1. Take a book from Jason Kreis's book — control the midfield
Having been accused frequently of being too passive, New York City FC might not seem the ideal side to look to. But what they've had, RSL can learn from: Control in the midfield. And maybe it's less a case of legitimately looking to NYCFC and more about looking toward what they want to do.
But it's about a lot more than controlling the midfield, isn't it?
2. Exercise care with midfield possession
It's one thing to lack frequent and continued possession; it's another entirely to have possession frequently and give it away needlessly. That's the problem Real Salt Lake have been facing, and it's one that you can see giving them trouble. Again, it's not necessarily about being passive in possession, but by not losing possession in key areas, and by responding properly when they do, they'll find themselves in fewer dangerous situations where a single mistake from a defender will change the game.
3. Score between five goals
Real Salt Lake's record when scoring five or more goals is spectacular. You can't deny that. (In other news, water is -- quite shockingly -- wet.) In all seriousness, just getting a goal or two early will change the dynamic in a positive way. In 2014, RSL was spectacular in scoring early goals; this year, it's less the case. While goals overall have been harder to come by, getting them early hasn't helped RSL's cause. It allows teams to suss out game plans, find RSL's weaknesses, and score.
4. Play proactively, not in response to NYCFC
They always say playing proactively is the better idea (and by they, I have no idea who I'm referencing), but really, that's as important as it gets with this one. Getting sucked into a pressure-response game wouldn't benefit RSL. Instead, just letting Jason Kreis's side stroke the ball around the pitch might actually be alright. But, you know ...
5. Pressure the midfield higher up the pitch
If RSL can win possession in more dangerous areas, it becomes easier to create dangerous opportunities and find themselves overloading the opposition. It's hard to say who plays in the midfield -- Ned Grabavoy was an unused substitute during their last match, a 2-2 draw against Chicago owing to a pelvis injury. If there's no Grabavoy in their side, it'll become a little easier to force turnovers, one would readily suspect.