So, this is going to be a thing I guess. Blame Matt. Also, listen to the podcast if you like this stuff cause it’s what I do.
During matches I get to see a lot of the fan reaction on social media about the game and how it’s going from their viewpoint. Sometimes it makes me scratch my head, sometimes it makes me want to throw things, sometimes I’m really proud. Tonight I saw a lot of talk about how bad Real Salt Lake was playing; how we needed to do better. I love these sentiments (SARCASM).
Knee jerk reaction: RSL still played pretty well
My knee jerk reaction tonight is that RSL played pretty well, but Montreal played just as well if not better and that will happen now and then.
It’s hard to look at a game like tonight’s and think outside the frustration of going down a goal incredibly early to see what your team is really doing, or what their opponent is doing. Step away from your passion for a moment and look at the game as an observer. Think about it tactically and without the emotion of wanting every single shot to be on goal or into the old onion bag (yeah, I know). What I hope you can see is that the game is a little different when you’re not invested to the point of anger at every imperfect touch.
Montreal put on defensive clinic
After the early goal Real Salt Lake looked really good through most of the match, controlling possession and imposing style of play on Montreal. The cold hard truth of it is that Montreal was up to the task tonight. Period. If you go back and watch that match again, and I hope you do, you will see that the back 4 of Montreal is good (read that as really, ridiculously, amazingly good). It was a clinic. They were ready for us. I know that’s probably hard to read, but it’s just true.
Watch the game again and look at how fast they transitioned back into their defensive shape. Notice how they immediately find their zone and are aware of which passing lanes we are trying to run into. Focus on how they delay the play until it’s the right moment to tackle. That’s a clinic on defending. That’s going to make it hard for any team in this league to put a dangerous sequence together.
Themes of the season need to be addressed
All that said, similar to the Wilmington and Seattle matches in U.S. Open Cup, RSL need to find a way to break a team down outside of the normal/traditional means. There were a lot of the themes of the season that were present again tonight and we really need to address those if we are going to make that last little jump in the standings or be ready to go on a hot streak in the playoffs.
What I hope we all see from a game like this is that there was more good than bad; but that we’ve still a ways to go.