With a less-than-optimal performance on Friday against San Jose Earthquakes on their back, they'll want to show marked improvement against the 2014 champions. But how?
1. Control the ball in the midfield
There have been incremental improvements in the defense, and San Jose showed probably the biggest improvement yet — rather than lumping the ball clear, there was a sense of purpose in almost every play from Jamison Olave and Elias Vasquez. It was clearly something they've worked on, and it showed. Of course, San Jose was not the most high-pressure team out there, but there were moments where a clearance would have been easier than playing the ball out of the back.
But for all the good work there, too often, the ball was sent clear from the midfield when it could have been played in a controlled way. This left Alvaro Saborio or Devon Sandoval to win a header against a fairly large defender, and while that worked as well as you could ask, the support from the midfield wasn't quick enough.
If the midfielders instead focus on sane and controlled play and passing, RSL could find themselves progressing play up the field gradually — not all at once.
2. Continue with forward movement — from the outside to the inside
RSL's best moments on Wednesday came when Jordan Allen and Olmes Garcia started to not just switch sides, but to move centrally — sometimes at the same time. While this doesn't help provide room for overlapping full-backs, it does provide more dangerous central options. Of course, none of that's useful without some midfield creativity and control.
3. Shoot the ball.
One of those popular and awful phrases — "you don't make the shots you don't take" (or something akin to that) — comes to mind, and while I should really apologize for using it, it does provide some context. RSL is at the bottom of the league in shots taken — 8.88 per match. That's not just dismal — it's inexcusable. If RSL is to have any success against LA Galaxy, some overly optimistic shooting might be in the cards. After all, while you won't score the best goals that way, you also won't score many fluky goals if you don't shoot. We can't count on a Victor Bernardez own goal every week, you know.