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RSL vs. Portland Timbers, 3-3: What we learned

It’s preseason on turf — but there’s still plenty to take away from this exciting 3-3 draw.

MLS: Portland Timbers vs Real Salt Lake USA TODAY Sports

The hardest part about writing a piece like this comes from the fact that whether the team has a great or a poor showing, it is just the pre-season and kind of early to judge them too harshly. Fitness is a thing, turf is another, and playing a mix of veterans with rookies is always going to give us insight that we might not see otherwise. Still, it is important to write these things to decompress what we’ve seen and where we are heading from here.

1st Half:

  • The Good:

It’s hard to say for this half. I think we came out strong and pressed early, but that’s kind of where the good stopped. Just like we saw against San Jose, after about 15 minutes, we started inviting more pressure, but we were able to deal with it for long periods of time, which is a very good thing looking forward.

  • The Bad:

Sunny keeps getting his passes intercepted (a problem we faced against San Jose last week) and it is costing the defense. If you watched the videos Real Salt Lake posts regularly, you can sometimes hear Coach Cassar preaching attacking and defending as a unit—unfortunately, I am not seeing too much of that. We are losing the ball in bad places and not recovering it fast enough to prevent goals (see Valeri’s first goal and Mattock’s goal in the second half).

  • The Ugly:

There were so many fouls on both sides, it made me absolutely terrified about losing someone to injury. Please, stop beating the shit out of each other in pre-season games!

2nd Half:

  • The Good:

The kids are alright. Seriously, I cannot wait to see how the Monarchs perform this year under Coach Petke. We will no doubt be a force in the USL, and that can only mean good things for Real Salt Lake in the MLS. We also had two goals (on a former RSL man) from outside of the 18. That is huge for us and should excite fans who hate when RSL “tries to walk it in all the time.”

  • The Bad:

There were a few passes that were played behind the intended target. Turf will do weird things like that, but it is important to try to get that down and fixed before the season starts. I would also love to see us hold on to the ball for a bit more time. Our players don’t look 90 minutes fit yet and may benefit from some possession for now.

  • The Ugly:

Seeing Jeff Attinella in yellow instead of black. Miss you, man.