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Inside the Six: The only cure is more cow bell

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pressure cookers, new acquisitions, and fading legends

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

RSL vs. Atlanta

So that wasn’t great. Nobody wants to give up three goals on their home field, but Petke’s perfect run was unsustainable (crazy, right?) and had to end at some point. Atlanta high pressed the pants off an RSL team that isn’t great at playing through pressure, and the solid play we have seen from Real lately seemed to disapparate. Despite the ugliness, I’m not that fired up about it.

The current incarnation of RSL is very much in a rebuild mode and the process matters more than the results. Process and the result were horrible in this one, largely due to Petke’s determination to play out of the back. Watch us do that poorly down below.

NYCFC went through similar growing pains when they instituted that philosophy under Vieira, including a 7-0 home loss to their cross town rival New York Red Bull, and yet they finished the season well and continue to perform in the upper echelon of the league. RSL is a work in progress, and it is going to be a long road to get where Petke wants them to go. As long as the right processes are in place and things are done the right way, a few setbacks are fine by me.

Sporting KC vs. RSL

Remember how we just struggled against a well executed high press? Lucky for us, Peter Vermes is the patron saint of MLS high presses, and his squad does not deviate from his previous versions. Sporting lead the league in fewest goals conceded at 3, and their stingy defense will be a tough test for Real’s struggling attack.

The good news is, Sporting’s attack has struggled even more than Real’s, tallying only six goals so far which is tied for second worst in the league (Rapids are dead last). Expect Petke to be pragmatic in this one, and the defenders to stay home for the most part. I expect a frustrating to watch 0-0 draw, but now that I say that I’m sure it’ll end 4-4.

Atlanta vs. DC United

As we just experienced, Atlanta is for real and are making a charge up the Eastern Conference standings. D.C. on the other hand have struggled to get much of anything going after a positive end to last season. A road draw would be huge for D.C. here, though it would be more encouraging if they could muster anything in the attack. This is the type of game Atlanta needs to consistently win if they want to contend. Should be a fun one down south.

Sweater Watch

I’m going to cheat a little and use a mailbag question here, as it has been a trend that needs discussing. This one came from the wise irondeepbicycle who rocked the RSL community earlier this year by admitting he is not an avid cycler and there is no such thing as an Iron Deep bicycle:

Who is the likeliest player to retire and/or move into a coaching role at the end of this season? Beckerman? Rimando? Wingert?

With the unceremonious ways we’ve parted with two of our most beloved legends in Javier Morales and Nat Borchers, I would love for all three of these players to dictate the terms of their retirement and for them to play their last game in Claret and Cobalt. However, sometimes as players age, their perception of their ability and their actual ability deviate to a point where you get a situation like this:

Last week when I read this question, my initial thought was that it would be between Beckerman or Wingert and that Rimando might outlive us all. Now I’m not so sure. The Wall of the Wasatch has shown a few cracks this season, despite still playing solid for the rest of it. The two turnovers against Atlanta and the failed Cruyff turn against Minnesota were low points, but at times we’ve seen the Rimando we’re used to.

I’d love to retain all three in coaching roles, and the time for that may be sooner rather than later. Rimando and Beckerman are still starting quality, though not the elite contributors they once were. Wingert is solid depth and a veteran locker room presence, but his play on the field has definitely suffered over the past several seasons.

My guess is that WIngert is done at the end of his contract. Beckerman will step down at the end of this year, fish for six months straight, then take a coaching role with the academy. Rimando takes a pay cut next year in hopes of making one last world cup roster, then hangs up his cleats at the end of next season. If they do continue past this season, they should receive fairly steep pay cuts. It’s a tough part of the business, but in a salary capped league, your performance and pay have to be on the same level.

However it all shakes out, they are three of the greatest players in club history, two of the greatest in MLS history and I hope their legacies are remembered the way they should be.

Mailbag

How do you think RSL should address the issue of the midfield? A lot of focus gets put on the back four and front four lately, but people seem to ignore the issue (at least in my opinion) of a middle two that are getting asked to do too much.

-15-2-32 (the question has been edited slightly, you can see the full version here)

The balance in the midfield doesn’t exist right now and I really hope RSL is done trying to make Mulholland a starter. I like Luke. He has a great personality, works hard, and is a valuable asset. He isn’t a starter on an MLS team that is serious about competing for silverware. Sunny was an answer last season, but has regressed to unplayable. Holness can’t get a look for some reason.

Ideally we play Holness in that #8 role and give him a chance to show something, as well as giving a healthy Sunny a chance to prove that last year was the real him. If neither of them step up I’d prefer to use our TAM on a solid box to box midfielder this summer.

As far as the shape goes, I think they are being asked to do too much due to our deficiencies in possession. I’m sure most have seen Mulholland’s passing graph, and while Movsisyan is scoring goals, his hold up play isn’t great and doesn’t give the midfield much opportunity to make those late runs into the attack. As a result we get stretched thin and overrun.

what do you think the likelihood of Javi playing when FC Dallas comes to town is? He hasn’t been getting incredibly consistent minutes. If Andy Williams can pick up one additional player before the deadline on May 8th?? I think. What position should that be?

-Wirtjo Von Leonard

I think Morales will play and probably score a hat trick, the last one deflecting in off Waibel’s face. No hard feelings though.

Our wishlist should look somewhat like this

  1. Starting level CB
  2. Starting level CM
  3. Depth ST
  4. Depth outside back

As for whether we get those before May 8th, this summer, or at the end of the season I don’t care, as long as we’re doing our due diligence and finding the right pieces. I’m of the opinion that our TAM should go to a midfielder and we don’t need to spend big on a center back. Most top level center backs weren’t necessarily top level signings, but if we do use the TAM there that’s fine. Injuries have kept us from really evaluating what we have in a lot of areas so I’m willing to be more patient with these signings and see if Petke can solve from within first.

Quote of the Week

"It's always good [better] to lose one game 7-0 than seven games 1-0.”

-Patrick Vieira

#perspective

The party never stops in the comment section! Let me know what you think, weigh in on the mailbag questions, and ask some for next week