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Three things RSL can do to improve after Chicago loss

Don't worry, it's only three things.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Chicago Fire Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

On the day, I was tempted to just write "EVERYTHING" on this and then run away crying but a two days removed I'm feeling much more reasonable about things. Now I'm ready to analyse the game and then start the crying.

Last week I quoted from Andy Graff in his recap of the Toronto game and I'm going to make a habit of going back to read his work on each game before writing this because I tend to agree with most of what he says. This week, The Grafter (I think that's what he wants to be called forever and ever) said this:

That one sentence could apply to any point in last season so the fact we are saying this again now is a worry. It's too early in the season to really break down where the rot is in The RioT but for now, let's look at what we need to do better next time.

Team Selection

With our depth chart taking an early hit, it was a gamble putting rookie Justin Schmidt in at CB in an away game so early in the season. I had him as a first round pick but was still cautious about his ability. However, he played great for us which has to have felt like a weight off everyone's shoulders given Glad looks to be out for a little while longer. Horst had a bad day but last week he proved to be dependable too. What worries me is what comes after that back line.

I don't think Sunny will want to remember this game in a hurry but to be honest I didn't get why he was out there. Sunny and Beckerman perform the same sort of role, breaking up play and protecting the back line. You don't need two guys doing the same job on the field and I'd have like to have seen Mulholland or Holness start in his place.

Mulholland is nice foil for Beckerman because they play different styles, Beckerman breaks it up and Mulholland gets forward, leaving Kyle better able to stay back. Holness has managed to score yet another excellent goal down with Real Monarchs and I'd like to see him get some minutes in that pure central midfield role where he can help the team on the front foot.

Decent strike, but an even better result @realmonarchs #AsOne #RSLFamily | @sjaxn with the awesome edit!

A post shared by Omar Holness (@omarholness) on

Last year it was late subs. This year I feel like it's going to be player selection giving Cassar a headache. How long does he keep faith in Yura, especially with Lennon available? What is the right midfield combination because we have so many first team quality players there? It's easy to do it from this position so I know he's in a tough spot, but next week I'd like to see a more balanced midfield that can break up a play, pass the ball and then finish the chances.

Tactical Formation

Cassar has made it his mission to switch to a 4-3-3 and that's well known, long gone is the diamond. Now, with the player selection we talked about above, we aren't really playing a 4-3-3. It's a 4-2-3-1. See, we get this basically:

I know the communications from the club insist this is a 4-3-3 with Rusnak playing deeper but in the games it isn't. Rusnak come forward and leaves Sunny and Beckerman holding the D-mid position. Here is a heat map of the three from Saturday

There's no even distribution here. The light green areas are where Rusnak and Beckerman were (far up) or Sunny and Beckerman (lower down). Nobody is living in that space apart from Dax McCarty, Juninho and Leeuw:

That light green right on the circle is those three exploiting the hole. You can't give that kind of space to veterans like that. If Cassar want's to really play 4-3-3 then I don't see where Rusnak fits in because he isn't playing in the middle of the park and once again either Sunny or Kyle need to sit out because you need central midfielders to play that formation. With so much focus on wide play (check the crossing stats below!) you can't leave a gap in the middle because good times will kill you, which is what Chicago did quite regularly.

Attacking Play

12 shots, 58% possession, 41 crosses, 77% accuracy in the pass and 500 total passes. These are the stats of teams winning three points. What isn't is 1 shot on target. That's what RSL looked like over 90 minutes in Chicago. I go back to the quote at the top of this article, we played very well but we just didn't finish. What I don't understand anymore than I did last week is who are we looking at to score.

Is Yura a target man or is he the finisher? Plata has been an extremely consistent goalscorer for us but he's been tucked out wide where he's crossing the ball in. Should Rusnak be scoring goals here or are we looking at him to set the play up? Everybody has a part to play in a system and I can't seem to see where the attacking players are supposed to be contributing.

In the last two games we've had more shots blocked than on or off target which gives me the impression we're snatching at chances and firing them off instead of getting the ball to players who can get it in the net. On top of that Yura seems to have left his shooting boots at home.

I'll be honest with you all and say he didn't impress me last year and he's not doing well now. 41 crosses and 77% accuracy means that service isn't lacking in quantity or quality. Let me put it like this: In the preseason, Movsisyan scored 2 goals - a penalty at Minnesota and one in the final game against Alashkert FC. Backup veteran Chad Barrett got the same amount against the same two teams but both were from open play. I'm not saying Barrett should start here, I'm saying that somebody who can score goals should be, even if that's 2009 Movsisyan!