When Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman was sent off against LA Galaxy, a big part of me wondered if there was a way we could have avoided putting ourselves in that situation.
It was a situation that turned a once-good game on its head, and it ultimately will receive some blame for the final result.
Let’s take a look at the card, starting with the most proximate possession from RSL before the card.
There’s a significant disconnect involved here between the midfield and the attack, not least of which is because RSL, through its desire to press, has been put in a bad position.
And sure, you can see here the weak clearance from Demar Phillips — that’s a problem — but there’s more going on here. Immediately preceding the clearance, LA Galaxy have possession of the ball. We’re still stuck in this weird 4-1-4-1 setup that we simply don’t need to be in. Just before this, we had just conceded a throw-in.
That’s the real kicker here. We were properly set up for the throw-in, but Luke Mulholland rushes in — sure, we don’t want to just give away a pass in the middle third, but at the same time, it’s not like were weren’t in a position to deal with that. Instead, they get a pass away anyway, and we’re left in a bad position.
From here, let’s ask the tricky question. Does Kyle Beckerman need to make that tackle? Does it actually help the team?
If he doesn’t make that tackle, it’s a potential five-on-four situation — but I think that’s one that RSL could have dealt with. If he were to have a chance to re-read the play, I suspect he’d make a different decision. But he’s smart enough and experienced enough to read this play right the first time, so I’m left wondering if there’s something I’m missing.
Whatever the case, one rash act — rushing forward to challenge a defending player — led to considerable disorganization in the midfield. Up a goal already, it would have been preferable for Mulholland to remain in a more defensive stance than to attempt to win the ball, especially as halftime was nearing.
In the end, it’s easy on repeated watches to see where things went wrong — and there are plenty of places. Let’s recap.
- Demar Phillips could have made a better clearance, removing the situation entirely
- Kyle Beckerman didn’t need to make that tackle, letting his defense deal with it while rushing back himself
- Luke Mulholland could have stayed in position, helping the team retain a defensive stance
Put it all together? That’s an immensely avoidable red card for Kyle Beckerman.
Of course, we should also ask a question about the first card — but given we have no witness of that, we’re left making too many assumptions about the validity of the card. Whatever the case, it’s not as if Beckerman was unaware of the first yellow card, so it’s purely academic to wonder about it separately.