When I think of the things Real Salt Lake need to do better when they head to Toyota Park on the 11th of March to take on the Chicago Fire, I think of this quote from Andy Graff in his "What We Learned" piece:
Chicago are another team who opened with a draw, The Fire drew 1-1 away at Columbus which makes this game their home opener of 2017. It was a good performance from them despite the result with David Accam getting the equliser while Dax McCarty, Nemanja Nikolic and Jorge Bava all made debuts for them, looking pretty good in the process.
Real Salt Lake are taking their first away trip of 2017 off a physical 0-0 draw. With no update on Maund yet and Glad still away on U-20 duty, one tweet we didn't want to see was this from Stephen "Sunny" Sunday:
Getting the legs back#PuffyPant#SOS pic.twitter.com/hJfBve2To5— Sunday Stephen Sunny (@Stephen4Sunday) March 5, 2017
After taking an awkward tumble he was replaced by Luke Mulholland in the 78th minute so it can't be all bad, but it may be we see some rotation in the middle of the park. The good news is the makeshift duo of Horst and Schuler came good in defense with Rimando doing Rimando things already. With Chicago historically lacking in the goals department we may be looking at a second clean sheet if they can both perform as well again. Still, we need to tidy some things up so here are my three things RSL can do better after Toronto.
I was going to go for Attacking Play here but in all honesty, we created chances against Toronto. They are a strong team so that we got 17 shots away (only 3 on target though) shows we were creating. It's the actual finishing that let us down and that's key when you're playing on the break. You have to take your chances and I can't think of a moment that shows this better than Plata on the 77th minute. After some good play between him, Rusnak and then Beckerman looping the ball over the defense, Plata uncharacteristically took his shot over the bar. You have to finish those chances when you get them if you're going to be a playoff team and looking at our chances from the game, we need to finish better.
That's a look at our shots. Three green lines, all outside the 18. The rest were not on target or blocked. We're making them, now we have to get better at finishing them.
RSL left The RioT on Sunday with a 66% passing accuracy. That's lower than the season average passing accuracy percentage of 76% we finished with in 2016 (by my math at least: Passing accuracy % of average first 11 added up and divided as standard. Showing my work like a good student) and we will be looking to improve that. I won't link an image to the Successful vs Unsuccessful passes because it's a visual mess but over on the MLS Boxscore Recap you can take a look. From my point of view, most of our losses came on the left hand side, close to the half way line. Wingert, Luke and Beckerman looked to be the main offenders out there but it's easy to understand given Kyle has not had a full preseason & put together more than he lost and Wingert, while a club legend, is our backup at this point. Our success game on the right attacking side with Beltran taking an attacking stance on things, passing more than Allen did in the final third and Rusnak floating around to connect the dots. There's a bunch of reasons why we overlapped more on the right than the left but when it comes down to it, we have to tidy up that passing and be aiming for at least a 70% completion rate.
17 fouls were recorded by RSL this weekend in a very hard hitting game. Were some a bit soft? Perhaps, and I include the penalty call in this one. However, we broke up the flow of the game so much with these fouls that it stopped a lot of rhythm for the team. When you're defending so high up on the idea of a quick break, you can't give your opponent the chance to send a deep ball in from a set piece. It's easier to break from the middle of the field than it is your own area so we have to keep aggressive but not to the point where it's detrimental to the teams style of play. We did great at stopping the shots and stopping the goals but we need to now get those turn overs without causing the official to blow the whistle.