Watching Real Salt Lake has been a joy over the last two matches (that final minute against Portland aside) and we have a certain duo to thank for it: Javier Morales and Luis Silva.
Of course, that undermines the importance of what everyone else has been doing, and that wouldn't be right. Let's scale that back a bit.
Javier Morales and Luis Silva have turned the 4-3-3 into their personal attacking plaything, and RSL is better for it.
Better? Probably. But it's also important not to soften the impact of Silva's surging play for Real Salt Lake, and the way that's eased the load on Javier Morales in a very important way.
I know we showed a chart just like this only very recently, but take a look at these two passing charts.
Javier Morales vs. Seattle Sounders
Luis Silva vs. Seattle Sounders
Not only is that a striking passing chart, we also see that Javier Morales is completing more passes than he usually does. There are several things that could mean, but one thing we can say definitively is that he is receiving the ball more frequently and finding passing options more frequently.
Real Salt Lake finding a way to fit an attacking midfielder in the 4-3-3 has worked wonders. It's the same strategy we tried to implement with Luis Gil, but it's worked to vastly different effect. In fact, you could argue that what we've seen is a 4-3-3 defensively, with Silva dropping into a right wing position, and a 4-2-2-2 in attack, with Silva and Morales both filling the playmaker role.
It's not a coincidence, I think, that the midfield worked better in the last two matches. Luke Mulholland has been better, Kyle Beckerman has looked closer to his old self (perhaps better), and the defense has been faced with fewer dangerous circumstances.
It's hard to say whether this approach hurt Seattle's preparations, or if they simply weren't ready to face a Real Salt Lake side that could competently move the ball around midfield. Whatever the case, their cause would have been helped by Osvaldo Alonso playing, and so it becomes a little bit hard to assert that this would necessarily work every time.
However, we did also see that same look of quality against Portland Timbers, who generally break up midfield play very well, with both Will Johnson and Diego Chara being competent in that regard. That seems to indicate that it's not a one-off we've seen — but if it is, it's not like Real Salt Lake would be left without options otherwise.
See — just as Real Salt Lake look to have figured out another way to play in their 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 hybrid, another option has appeared in the form of Burrito Martinez. And while we don't know exactly he'll line up with the team, the mere fact that he's in the team gives us something to really get excited about.