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Three things RSL can improve after Rapids win

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A win for the fans, but it’s a performance the coaches won't be celebrating as much.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Colorado Rapids Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Look, it's 6 p.m. on Easter Sunday and there are four kids in my house right now who have all eaten FAR too much chocolate. I spent an hour making soup to be told that it was "too liquid" and this morning my smoke alarm woke me up by slowly dying. What I'm saying is if you're looking for somebody to tell you that our performance in the 2-1 win at Colorado was the turning point then you're in the wrong place my friend!

I said on Twitter that beating Colorado was so important to us right now because they are a team who have transformed themselves while we've languished or even regressed in certain areas. A win would prove we could contend with a team that has all the potential to make a decent run in the playoffs and we got that win but we can't rely on Brooks Lennon deciding he is going to turn easy mode on and score bombs every game, so here are three things we need to fix ASAP.

Discipline

I'm really glad they uploaded Chris Wingert getting carded on the 51st minute to the MLS site because it contained a line of commentary I wanted to draw attention to.

Beginning to mount up, those free kicks, the referee's patience has worn a little thin.

This has come up time and time again but our defense can't be a continuing series of self sacrificing. Eventually, you're going to pull the wrong man down and be taking a long walk back to the shower. Even in the first few moments, Chris Schuler lost Kevin Doyle and his first reaction was to try drag him down. Doyle shook him off and Nick Rimando came up with a big save for us. This is the kind of thing that will cost us in the end. In a game where we had 60 percent of the possession, we still managed 15 fouls and those numbers just can't go on. I'm not saying don't be aggressive to win the ball back but just try not to give away needless fouls game after game.

Defensive Positioning

Colorado picked a side they were going to attack from very early on and made the most of the ball from the right of the field. Whether that was down to the talent of Marlon Hairston or a perceived weakness in Danilo Acosta is something for Colorado to know but they worked the ball from there. That should have forced the defense to play deep on the right and high on the left to try and keep them from crossing the ball but the heatmap shows that we were deeper on the left hand side, which I am guessing we were happy for the ball to get there and more confident in clearing the ball once it came in, which didn't work out well in the 29th minute when Hairston and Doyle linked up for a very simple goal.

Schuler and Wingert are names that at one point were dead cert to be on the starting sheet but right now both are back up players, and they are really playing that way; they’re dependable but not something to build around. Sure, Wingert is out of position, but we're all over the place with Doyle finding more space than he should have. Defending sometimes come down to individual battles sure and making sure you're marking your man or even just making sure your defensive assignment has been done but every aspect of football is a team game and our defense needs to work as a team. To paraphrase; "The left hand needs to know what the right hand is doing".

Colorado (left) attack vs RSL (right) defence
Whoscored.com

We need to have a cohesive defense that works together, covers each other and doesn't rely on desperation to keep the team winning.

Team Selection

Brooks Lennon needs to start up front as soon as possible. Saucedo and Silva/Plata on the wings. Rusnak behind him. Let them play that ball around and run the opposition into the ground. When players are in form you start them. When they aren't you drop them. If you discount the penalty he scored, Lennon, Rusnak and Silva (who only had 26 minutes) are above Yura in the Audi Index. I know they take a small chunk of points off for a penalty but you don't get a penalty every game. In open play, he's too inconsistent. Nothing personal, I've no agenda against Yura, but it's time for a change.


So there we go. Feels like we are back to where we were about 8 months ago. Winning games but by heroics rather than by being the better team. Still it's 2 games in for Mike Petke and it's 2 wins so he maintains the 100% record so far and his attitude and desire for accountability has spread to the team which is nice to see. High scoring Atlanta come to Rio Tinto next week and they will be looking to continue their high pressure attacking style against us so it will be interesting to see if that's a test we can pass. For now, I'm heading back to my Easter weekend which will now consist of washing the dishes, helping my son finish the neon sign he is making that says "BUTT" and then perhaps sitting down with an egg for 10 minutes!

Happy Easter!