As Real Salt Lake took on Minnesota United, we witnessed a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses we’ve seen in recent friendlies.
It’s still a preseason game, and between all the subs and having players like Rimando, Beckerman, Beltran, and Glad out, it’s hard to take away many absolutes from this match. The attack looks strong, but the midfield and defense aren’t where we want them. We see glimpses of chemistry, but it’s not sustained for long periods, as evidenced by our poor passing in much of the match.
As the game kicked off, we saw a team closer to the starting eleven that will take the field on March 4th. They played until the 75th minute, exiting much later in the match than we’ve seen in previous preseason games; hopefully that allowed them to gel more. It’s exciting to see the substitutions (Barrett, Holness, Schmidt, Velazco, Hernandez, Brody, Dunk) take the field because they look hungry and had a more effective attack than in the first 75 minutes.
The defense is getting better, but is still leaking goals. We still haven’t seen our starting backline, and the defense has been the biggest concern in this leg of preseason. The midfield looked better, but also some improvement is needed. Silva had some really fantastic individual moments, but I’m not convinced a defensive midfield spot is the right role for him. He looks like a player that wants to be up top. Sunny brought more stability to the midfield when he came on in the 62nd minute.
The attack looked mostly good, but the Rusnak/Plata/Movsisyan/Allen combination didn’t deliver the results we wanted. Allen looked fantastic. He owned his wing (started on the right, then he switched with Plata) and offered both shots and crosses. Rusnak always looked calm and composed. When the subs came on in the 75th minute, Barrett delivered. He had one solid goal and another shot that Brody finished. If that’s the Chad Barrett we’ll see in the regular season, then he’ll be an impact sub with goals to his name.
What we’re seeing overall is a team trying different things, some of which are working and some that are not. It’s fun to see the youngsters do so well. It’s concerning to see a defense that doesn’t quite know how to operate. RSL’s attack is one of the best it’s ever been on the field and off the bench.