We're sitting here after Real Salt Lake's seismic loss to LA Galaxy, and there's one question that keeps coming to mind: Where do we go from here?
I mean, there's only one way to really go, and that's forward, but it's really the manner in which we move forward that matters here. Here are three things RSL can do to make sure their progress continues to be positive, as it was for the six games preceding that awful loss.
1. Sort out the midfield
A match where the team concedes five goals probably seems like it should be a concern for the defensive group on, but as I discussed on Saturday night, a bigger issue was that the midfield basically let themselves be passed over repeatedly. Too many times, LA was simply able to push their midfield beyond RSL's and find a simple pass through the midfield.
How is RSL supposed to do this? Maybe it's down to a tactical shift that would keep a midfielder more central to cut out that primary passing lane. Maybe it's down to narrowing the gap between the defenders and the midfielders. It's not entirely clear. One thing's certain, though, and that's that Sunny would have made a pretty big difference in this game. His ability to step to an incoming pass and cut off passing lanes makes a world of difference for this team.
2. Sort out the defense
Alright, so the defense isn't blameless here — that much should be obvious. They failed to adjust to a midfield that basically created an additional level of separation — they simply weren't on the same page. Again, we come back to how easy it was to bypass the midfield and hit right at the defense: A more aware center back might be able to step up a bit and solve that problem.
Of course, everyone's talking about the rotation of Justen Glad and Jamison Olave here, and while I don't think Olave is primarily to blame for any of the first four goals, a more cerebral center back might have spotted some of the issues earlier and attempted to correct for them.
That might mean keeping Glad in the position more permanently, or it might mean actually signing another center back. That's likely to come in the summer transfer window, and Craig Waibel has targeted at least one or two more positions that need upgrades. It'll be interesting to see what that means.
3. Heal the attack
No Joao Plata, no Burrito Martinez after 20 minutes, and no Javier Morales from the outset? That makes for a difficult attacking lineup to put together — and it's important to remember how involved each of those players is defensively, too.
If LA Galaxy were forced to contend with those three, they might have had to adjust their game — even slightly. Instead, their defensive game was only shifted once Morales came on, and even then, it was far too little, far too late.