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Match Preview: RSL kick off road trip hoping for improved goalscoring, chance creation

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

It seems a little odd that Real Salt Lake is already taking on Colorado Rapids for a second time this season — after all, this is only the ninth match of the season.

That's twice in the first 26 percent of matches, if you're interested in a bit of a raw number. How much does that really mean, though? Really, it's just an interesting blip in a long MLS season.

After all, the Rapids side we faced a few weeks ago is already looking a bit different. Maybe that's down to the presence of Jermaine Jones; maybe that's a result of significant improvements as a team. But when we last met, nobody was talking about this as a meeting of two of the best teams in the league.

Seeing as there's still plenty of time for that to become truth-bearing (or not, I suppose), we should probably be more interested in what Real Salt Lake has to do to secure three points.

The road trip begins

Nobody really wants to go on a long road trip, do they? Of course, that's only true if we're talking soccer — I would hardly establish that as a general rule otherwise. But for as long as this one seems, it's not like Toronto's semi-annual eight-game road trip they opened 2016 with. (To be fair, in 2015, it was only seven matches.)

Still, starting out our trip on the right note will be important as we consider the longer-term impact of this five-game run. It's 15 percent of our season all in one away run, and it won't be particularly easy. But if you win the first game, suddenly, it all seems a lot more manageable.

Feed the Movsisyan

It's an interesting conundrum that Yura Movsisyan only has two goals but could have had three more, but for an offside flag improperly raised and two thwacks of the post or crossbar. But his goalscoring rate isn't exactly at its best yet, so it seems like something that could be improved.

Although he's second on the team for shots taken (behind Joao Plata), he's not yet at two shots per match on average. He's recorded as having taken 14 in eight, and that's hardly going to be enough to see him join the Golden Boot race.

Compare that 1.75 shots per match to other players around the league and it does start to look a bit stark. David Villa is at 6 per match, Giovinco is at 5.5, and Fabian Espindola is at 4.8. Movsisyan sits at 55th in the league.

We've seen he's an excellent finisher, and we should start to wonder what it'll take to get him the opportunities he needs to succeed.

Heightened creativity

If you take a look at the best passers in MLS and sort it by key passes per match, only two teams have two players in the top 10: RSL and Orlando City. Javier Morales (3.0) and Joao Plata (2.67) are creating a fair few chances on their own, but it's not enough to elevate RSL's chances created beyond the rest of the league.

As evidence, consider that RSL are 12th in the league in chance creation — that's something fellow Soapbox writer Weston Jenson has been harping on. But by the same token, RSL are hardly bottom of the pack in goals scored, so maybe there's nothing wrong — but it surely does seem like a few more chances created could have an intensely positive effect on the team's chances this year — and in this match.