With only two more preseason games before the regular season, we’re looking at what Real Salt Lake needs to set it’s self up for a successful season. In this match, RSL play against LA Galaxy, one of our oldest and greatest rivals. But LA have seen a lot of changes recently, such as the loss of Robbie Keane, so it should be fun to see how each team does.
The Whole Back Line
There are two different issues with the back line, and on the whole this is the biggest area of concern. These problems are in some ways interrelated, but lets look at them as separates before we look at them together.
In regards to our outside backs, we have very little depth. Tony Beltran is a pillar of defense for the club and Demar Phillips is a fairly solid player, but if they’re gone, I don’t feel confident about the options available playing that position.
It would be great if Danilo Acosta stepped up and did the job, but he’s been with the U.S. U-20s for most of the preseason. He’s also recently moved from the midfield to outside back, and that doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence for reliable depth. Max Lachowecki and Reagan Dunk need to show more if they’re going to be called upon for the first team. Look to see how each of those two perform in this match.
Our center back issue is different, as we do have more depth. Between Justen Glad, Aaron Maund, and Chris Schuler, we have three solid starters. David Horst is a veteran who can get the job done, even if he’s not the most inspired player. For this match, I would love to see Maund and Schuler start, since they are likely to be the starting CBs for our opening match. The pairings we’ve seen so far in the preseason have been fairly ineffective and it’s time to get the starters starting together.
As we unite, we want to see the defense connect with the attack effectively, while still doing their number one job. That’s a lot to ask, but as the entire league improves, this needs to be the standard for our team. In preseason so far, we’ve allowed too many goals that could have easily been prevented.
Making Those Plays
We want to see more fluidity and connecting of meaningful passes in this game. LA is a tough team, even without some of their biggest names (wonder what this would be like if Landon Donovan had come to RSL). We want to see our attack put their defense to the test. Watch how we’re connecting passes and getting the ball up field. I’m hoping to see Rusnak really take the reigns in the playmaker role, and direct how we move towards goal.
After RSL’s disappointing end to last year’s season, it’s no secret that Cassar is under pressure to get better results. There hasn’t been a lot said about his position in the off-season other than he’s here. I want to see how he interacts with the bench, officials, and what he does on the sideline. If he does a post match presser, is he addressing specific issues or giving vague statements (see his comments about the MNUFC)? He is one of the biggest question marks of this team and I’ll be watching how he preforms as well.