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What to watch as RSL faces off against LA Galaxy

What should you be watching for as Real Salt Lake takes on LA Galaxy? Like Kyle Beckerman was quick to remind us after last week's match, it's about us, regardless of the opponent.

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Can RSL maintain their sane defensive shape?

RSL's defense has been steadily improving over the course of the season, and if we ignore (not that we should) that four-goal crisis match against New England, we have a pretty respectable record. Now, that's an awfully substantial caveat, but it's at least something positive we can look at.

Maintaining that sort of defensive shape should be high on the list of goals for tonight's match. LA Galaxy, at their best, are dangerous to any team, even if they don't have Robbie Keane playing.

Some stats might help us understand how we're defending, too. You can see some progression in chance-limitation, and there's real value in that.

  • May 2, RSL v. San Jose: Conceded eight shots, two on target (one saved).
  • April 18, RSL v. Vancouver: Conceded nine shots, one on target (none saved).
  • April 12, RSL v. Sporting KC: Conceded 12 shots, one on target (one saved).
  • April 5, RSL v. San Jose: Conceded 12 shots, three on target (all saved).
  • March 30, RSL v. Toronto: Conceded eight shots, six on target (five saved).

As an added consideration, taking only eight or nine shots puts a team last in the league right now — and that's where we're at. Sure, we need to shoot more, so let's talk about that.

Can RSL start taking hold of more opportunities?

RSL's build-up play hasn't necessarily been bad, but it has been taking place further back or in wider positions than it needs to be. As a result, RSL's shot-taking has averaged out to be the worst in the league. What would it take to get more shots?

We keep talking about this point, but it doesn't hurt to continue. If RSL can start building play further up the pitch and taking more shots, they'll almost certainly find more success.

Can RSL get wingers highly involved?

The big triumph, in my opinion, of last week was that Tony Beltran and Abdoulie Mansally were more involved in the match — they weren't just defensive options at the back, or short passing options when recycling possession. They were important build-up players. That sort of thing has to continue.