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RSL looking to shake point-dropping ways, beat Montreal Impact

Can RSL’s young center back duo keep the team in this one?

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

If you spent much time around RSL commenters and social media, you might have been under the impression that the team has been dropping points with reckless abandon.

Certainly, the team has dropped winnable matches this season, and it’s worth exploring that notion a little bit. Let’s mark out which matches RSL held a lead in, then went on to lose. We’ve had five losses this season.

  • May 28: RSL opened the scoring against Columbus, then lost 4-3
  • April 23: RSL scores first against LA Galaxy, who goes on to win 5-2.

Let’s also take a look at our draws in the same situations. We’ve had four draws — and you’ll note four draws below.

  • July 1: Despite leading 1-0 in stoppage time, RSL draws 1-1 with D.C. United
  • June 18: Burrito Martinez puts RSL up 1-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium; team later rescues a 2-2 draw through Yura Movsisyan
  • March 19: RSL travels to Portland and leads 2-0; two red cards later, the team scrapes out a 2-2 draw.
  • March 6: RSL leads 2-0 in stoppage time, then draws 2-2 with Orlando City SC.

With all that in mind, we can see 14 points that RSL has dropped from winning positions. The remarkable part isn’t that, but that the team has held the lead in all but three matches this season — that’s the sign of a team that can do it all. That they haven’t done it all reflects a certain proclivity toward error, which is exactly what we’ve worried about.

So what’s next? Without signing another center back — which we have no reason to believe the team will or won’t, such is the paucity of information — we will rely players improving. Our more recently dropped points have hardly been indicative of systemic problems; rather, they are because of individual errors.

That’s the biggest contrast with 2015, of course. That was the season of systemic breakdowns, and this, well, isn’t. Lucky us, right?

We’ll need our young center back corps to keep concentration and awareness for the full 90 minutes, and that’s not just about them. It’s also about ensuring that they are leading the defense organizationally. They’re certainly capable.