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Three things RSL should do better after tough Atlanta loss

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Cracks in Real Salt Lake’s core are being revealed.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The honeymoon is over for Mike Petke after a devastating 3-1 loss to expansion team Atlanta United after two defensive giveaways gifted the visitors with a lead that we never really came back from. I know I wasn't the only one to say it, but I remember saying that beating Vancouver in the snow and coming back with a winning wondergoal against Colorado doesn't mean we are out of the woods yet, and it showed tonight.

Bluntly put, we fell on our own sword and I can't for the life of me figure out why. Rimando had a diabolical game by his standards and Van Oekel will no doubt be looking to stamp his mark on the starting spot now, our defensive line had no answer for the speed of Atlanta and as for Luke Mulholland and his distribution, well...

Midfield Distribution

In a moment, I'm going to say bad things about the core of Real Salt Lake which I am sure will endear me even further to our loyal readers. However before all of that let's cast our mind back to a quiet little midfielder by the name Ned Grabavoy. In the golden age of Real Salt Lake, Morales was the maestro, Beckerman was the rock (not that one), we had one rotating midfield player to add utility and then there was Ned, who went about quietly completing about a million passes per game. They weren't often fancy or cutting but he was widely known to be one of the top passers in the league. The truth is, we haven't replaced him at any point since he left the club. and now we are paying for it. Luke is good in that utility role to provide extra defensive help or extra attacking help, but he isn't going to be connecting the dots for us like Ned, especially now that we have a three-man midfield.

Mike Petke and co have hinted at imminent signings and while I think we'll all be happy to see more defensive units, a passing CM wouldn't go amiss. Speaking of defense...

Defending. All of it. Just, everything.

I mean, Atlanta are fast. Really quick. We all knew this. Everybody knows by now that Atlanta sunk their money up front and created a front line that could outrun anybody and could play high pressure for 90 minutes in hopes that they wouldn't need to defend too much. It's working too, just look at how quickly they respond to the stray passes that lead to the goals:

MLSSoccer.com
MLSSoccer.com

They didn't drop deep for goalkeeper distribution, they instead applied pressure to wherever the ball was to try and force a turnover and it worked, over and over again. Rimando and Wingert especially made thing so hard for themselves time and time again that I am starting to wonder if it's time for us to put some faith in youth in more than just the wings. If we're going to have a season of discontent, isn't it better to blood new players when we're having a rough time anyway rather than try them out when we don't have any other options?

The point is we knew Atlanta would play fast and with numbers and we just didn't react to that, instead passing up the middle and turning the ball over with no way to cover the sheer speed that Atlanta can move the ball. We need to be better at defending against a teams tactics, not just a one size fits all defense.

And once again, shooting

We had two shots on target out of 11. Did Burrito Martinez take all the shooting boots back to Argentina with him?


It's still early into the reign of Mike Petke but some things have changed and I echo the comments of 'King of the Soapbox' Matt Montgomery when it comes to owning your mistakes. Petke pulled no punches when it came to his assessment of the team and I'm glad to see that. Accountability needs to be at the center of this season if we are going to continue like this and with bitter rivals SKC on the horizon, every player is going to need to be accountable for their performance if we want to win.