Real Salt Lake’s rescued 2-2 draw against Portland Timbers came with a bit of drama and intensity.
Unsurprisingly, there are some things we learned from tonight’s match — about both teams and the fans.
Justen Glad’s still young — and learning on the job
Real Salt Lake’s inability to sign a center back during the offseason meant that Justen Glad would be thrust into significant action sooner rather than later; it’s led to him impressing repeatedly and earning a first-team spot. He’s also formed a formidable partnership with Aaron Maund, and that’s been easily one of the highlights of the season.
But one of the risks you face when your starting center back is only 19 is that they won’t always know how best to handle certain situations. Portland’s first goal is a great example of that. Of course, there’s a lot more that happened in the build-up to this one that doesn’t reflect on Glad at all, but he does play a role.
We’ll break down that goal soon — this was entirely preventable.
RSL’s finishing could use some work
There were too many instances against Portland where RSL simply couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. The most glaring? Burrito Martinez’s failure to finish after Yura Movsisyan won the ball back from Jake Gleeson. Now, Martinez, having scored the opening goal, can hold his head high — but this underscores a larger point about the team simply not finishing with the precision needed.
The same can be said for Movsisyan, who dispatched his penalty perfectly — but when a perfect cross came in from Tony Beltran, he was found wanting. I don’t know that there’s a simple solution to all of this, but it does get a bit on the annoying side.
We lack a game-changing substitute
RSL is in a tricky position right now where there’s simply not a game-changing substitute available to join the game. Jordan Allen is a good player, and he did reasonably well after coming in (getting a good shot off certainly helped), but he struggles to insert himself into games.
Olmes Garcia was saved for the 91st minute. This does not enable him to change a game — it simply wastes a bit of time and gets a player into the game.
At the same time, it’s tricky in MLS — teams will typically put salary cap resources toward their starting XI and try to spread the rest out across a good bench. That means finding game-changing players is often a trial-and-error sort of thing rather than a “sign a sure thing” approach.
After warm receptions basically every time he came to visit, the tide turned against Nat Borchers. It only started after he rushed up to confront Sunny and the referee, and this enraged the crowd.
Now, Borchers gets some credit here: He rushed up, but he didn’t significantly escalate a fray. He was taking concern for a teammate (the fallen Diego Chara, whose head Sunny zipped a ball past), and that’s not a bad thing. The response was a bit surprising, but on one hand, it’s nice that we can put our heroes behind us sometimes.
Now, about Ned Grabavoy...
Lucas Melano can cut this right out
I don’t get the point of this from the Portland Timbers attacker, and frankly, it has no place in soccer. Embellishing contact is one thing, but this is just ridiculous.
I can't stop laughing at Melano's dive here. pic.twitter.com/tTSxouLdqA— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) June 19, 2016
Jeff Cassar on rotating not players against Portland
Listen these are professional boys. You don't have to rest them after playing one game. You look around the world and they are playing Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Wednesday for pretty much the entire year. If you have to sit out a training session to play in a game, then absolutely. I felt that we were doing good things during the game. We were still dangerous; we were limiting their chances. At times you will give up some things with their speed and the quality that they have. But I thought that we were the aggressors in the second half. We were creating and I didn't think any changes needed to be made.