Real Salt Lake's loss to LA Galaxy tonight was, in a word, horrendous.
I don't know if that's the right word, but it's certainly a word that describes it. Does it describe it as fully as it could? No.
In trying to figure out what happened tonight, it becomes increasingly easy to figure it out. In previous matches, we played like we had at least one defensive midfielder. Against LA Galaxy, we played like we had none. Let's take a look.
The first one
Look at this. LA Galaxy were allowed an open lane to build. That lane was directly down the middle. It's a naive look for us, and part of that is because we would typically expect to see someone like Javier Morales in a more centralized position. It's easy to forget how important he is defensively, but he is. He's nearly always in a position to do something involving the ball. Whether that's picking up possession, blocking out a pass, or even just being there to prevent an open opportunity — that's what we missed. See how wide Luke Mulholland is there? He's useless there. Our midfield looks gutted.
The second one
This isn't a good look, either. LA Galaxy's midfield has sprinted past RSL's, and they're about to sprint past RSL's defense, too. Awful. We can blame Tony Beltran not getting on the end of the cross, and that certainly plays a role, but that's not the systemic breakdown that caused this goal.
On a side note, if you can't be bothered to get back and help in defense — even if you are supposed to be the playmaker on the night — you're going to be culpable. Luke Mulholland is strolling up there.
The third one
Here, you need to notice Emmanuel Boateng. He's sprinting past everybody. the midfield hasn't kept up with him, and Tony Beltran is trying to sprint back into position.
The fourth one
This is the one that's the hardest to be mad about. Tony Beltran goes down along with Boateng; Boateng pops back up, and he feeds Giovani dos Santos, whose chip is sublime. So there's that — it's the one that seems, on the face of it, the least systemic.
Still, we should probably wonder where our midfield is, and why they're so far out of position — that's why dos Santos is able to get so free here. They eventually make it into the box, but for the defense to be (relatively) in position and the midfield to be so far out of it? That's a systemic problem.