Real Salt Lake struggled in some significant ways against Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, and set-pieces were certainly no exception.
We're trying to figure out what RSL could have done more effectively to prevent this opportunity from arising — and hoping that if we think hard enough, the clock will turn back and it'll be like Kah never scored.
If the setup on this play looks a little bit weird, it's because this is directly after a corner kick — Luis Silva has headed the ball away from goal and to the flank, which seems well enough. As a result, the marking here isn't positionally what you'd expect, because the recovery time on this was minimal.
Steven Beitashour plays a pretty standard pass in to Kekutah Manneh here, and that's where everything just sort of collapses.
Olmes Garcia, you'll see here, is somehow left with the tricky task of one-on-one defending against a very good attacking player. John Stertzer starts to come over to help, but it's not quite enough to make a difference. These situations can happen — and as a result, Justen Glad turns toward his Manneh to try to cut out a pass.
What's frustrating here is the evident lack of communication between Elias Vasquez and Phanuel Kavita. The latter should perhaps be marking Kah, but Glad has turned his attention toward the ball. Maybe that's ball-watching, or maybe that's trying to cut out something before it becomes a problem — that's tough to say.
But you see Vasquez pointing here, which does absolutely no good at all. We also see Mansally here, who looks more like he's a striker in this situation than Olmes Garcia, and that's a little problematic, too. He's set up for a counter attack, but the ball never gets that far.
Finally, Jeff Attinella's positioning here seems a little surprising — is he readying himself for a shot?
The ball Manneh plays is inch-perfect, supposing that's actually what he meant to do. Somehow, he squeezes the ball between Glad and Kavita to peg Kah, whose finish didn't even have to be particularly good. One pass has cut out Glad and Kavita, and it's got past Stertzer and Garcia. Meanwhile, Elias Vasquez — who was marking Octavio Rivero but didn't adapt when circumstances necessitated it — is left doing little to nothing (a sprint here would have been nice), Kavita has muscled with Vancouver's Kendall Waston, and Justen Glad was left trying to cut out a pass that zipped past him.
So, a question: What could have been better? Could Kavita have stepped toward Kah? Not really, as he's been marking Waston the whole play. On the corner, we saw Devon Sandoval marking Kah, and he makes no motion to get back to that. That's a mistake you'd expect from a forward, honestly, and it's hard to feel too aggrieved. There was a reasonably substantial build-up before Kah's goal, so you're forced to wonder — should the defense have reset? They didn't, and instead, Waston and Rivero are both marked well, and nobody else is, particularly.
While we're at this, let's move backward a little bit. This is Luis Silva's header, and Real Salt Lake have ten in and around the box in defensive positions. Ten seconds later, they had five players in defensive positions. It went from a scenario where the defense was up in numbers to one where they couldn't regain their marking.
At this point, play is lost, and Real Salt Lake should probably reset. Instead, they've allowed themselves to be drawn all over the place, It's a lack of continuity immediately after a set piece, and that simply shouldn't be the case.
We're not in the business of assigning blame, but if we were to, there's plenty to go around. Jeff Attinella let a pass ease through his six-yard box, Justen Glad misread an opponent playing a pass, Phanuel Kavita doesn't quite get to the ball to clear it, Elias Vasquez has stuck too firmly to his marking John Stertzer and Olmes Garcia couldn't defend well enough as a unit to stop Kekutah Manneh, and Devon Sandoval hasn't followed Kah back when the corner reset.
If there's any blame on this one, it's spread around — and it's part of a problem Real Salt Lake has to fix on the training ground.