Real Salt Lake drew 1-1 against San Jose Earthquakes in one of the weirder matches we've seen this year, and while we'd like to say we were given a hard time by the referee, we should probably look at more factors than just the one.
We'll try to turn an eye toward some happier things tomorrow, but for now, let's focus on what went wrong.
Shots on goal: 0
RSL had a grand total of 0 on-target shots during Friday's match. While you could blame the referee for some extra whistling, that doesn't forgive the fact that RSL simply wasn't putting shots on frame. Two shots were blocked, and an additional four were off target. So six shots — at home? That's not really good enough.
Shots per match, 2015: 8.88 (last in MLS)
In fact, this is a broader problem. RSL has averaged a dead-last 8.88 shots per match with a fourth-to-last 41 percent accuracy. While the absence of Joao Plata partially explains this, a dependence on one unavailable player would be insane. There simply must be ways to improve the team.
Kyle Beckerman yellow card, 1'
There's not much use in disputing the validity of Kyle Beckerman's first-minute yellow card — he's clearly held an opponent back on a breakaway, which is a typically deserved caution. (Of course, it's worth noting that Luis Gil was not punished for the same thing later on, which seemed a little strange.) So for 89 minutes, Beckerman had to play with a bit more caution, meaning getting caught out of defensive position by taking a risk in attack was mostly out of the question.
Getting caught on the break
Too many times, RSL was left in a position where they had to foul an attacking player to prevent a breakaway attempt. While the reasons for that were understandable and pretty clear — without the lead, there was a strong impetus to at least recover a draw, much less score a winning goal — it didn't make the job any easier.
Losing Javier Morales early
When Javier Morales left the game with concerns from the bench that he could have suffered a concussion, RSL's chances dropped precipitously — such is his importance to the team. After being hit in the head (certainly accidentally by the passing leg of Shea Salinas) in the 26th minute and coming off not too long after, the level of play simply didn't pick up. There wasn't enough passing creativity from the midfield, and that made it difficult to create chances.
Note: Javier Morales was actually whistled for a foul on that play — strange stuff.
Poor passing in the midfield
A midfielder in a possession-oriented system should never be caught with 66 percent passing after a match, but that's exactly what Luke Mulholland did — too many times, his short passes were sent to nobody in particular, losing possession in dangerous areas for RSL — several of his misplaced passes were in the defensive third.
Even hovering around 70 percent isn't great — Luis Gil's passing, too, was lacking at 71 percent accuracy. But it's not the number that's important here — it's that neither was good enough at maintaining possession in important areas. If we're going to demand more out of our wingers, the midfield has to retain the ball long enough to get the ball to them.