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What we learned: Defense still a concern for RSL in 3-3 draw with New England

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake's 3-3 draw with New England Revolution turned our focus to the defense again, and that's been the focus of conversation for the better part of a year.

More early goals conceded

Real Salt Lake has had a problem conceding early goals in the last year, and that doesn't look to have improved much by the looks of this match. Conceding inside the first 15 minutes is more than simply problematic, and then again in the opening minutes of the second half — but it's also something that we can think might improve soon, with Jerry Akaminko a target for the team.

Scoring early goals creates difficult situations for the team, and while it is still preseason, and we still haven't seen a potential first-choice defensive pairing start the match, we have some cause for concern. That's not an insurmountable concern, mind, but it's something that needs fixing.

Defensive consistency is still troubling

RSL managed to not concede against Seongnam FC, but this time, they conceded thrice. While it's hard now to know why the first goal was conceded, the other two appeared to have come primarily because RSL was caught out by a counter attack. As we talk about conceding early goals, the same problem crops up here — it's about communication and organization.

That's something RSL simply has to get right, and if they can't manage that, they'll find the entire season difficult. Scoring a slew of goals is helpful, but it can't account for actual, competitive matches.

Attacking movement variations

Juan Manuel Martinez has already been moving more centrally in preseason, and it's hard to say if that's down to tactical decisions by RSL coach Jeff Cassar, or if it's because the player is simply better familiar with the players around him.

One thing's certain, though — Martinez, Joao Plata, and Javier Morales left a big stamp on the game, with their attacking swathes on the flanks and in the channels wreaking havoc on the New England defense.

Javier Morales is still the king

Morales was directly involved in each of the goals Real Salt Lake scored, having scored a penalty in the 53rd minute, then providing excellent-as-always free kick service for the other two goals. While part of me is concerned that we're relying on an aging Javier Morales to create opportunities, he's there as the chief playmaker, and he's fulfilling his responsibilities in his role.

Notably, Real Salt Lake's three goals came from set pieces. That's been an area where the team has historically struggled, and that they did well this time around should be encouraging.

Jordan Allen exists, but ...

The new heir-apparent to Javier Morales didn't play once again, leaving us to speculate about his status. He's clearly still around — he was spotted near the end of the stream tonight, and he is dressed for the match — but he's not being seen.

Is this Real Salt Lake holding Allen out as they try to organize around Javier Morales ahead of CONCACAF Champions League? Or are they, instead, attempting to pull the metaphorical wool over Tigres' metaphorical eyes? These are pressing questions.