On Friday, I said to myself that this week was going to be great. I've got a family holiday to the coast with a week off work, it's Wrestlemania on Sunday and Real Salt Lake will pick up their first win against expansion team and Chivas USA cosplayers Minnesota United. What a glorious week ahead, I thought.
Then I woke up on Sunday morning and...
Yeah, it was that bad. We were pretty much outplayed on every front, apart from fouls, which we were clear leaders in! I want everybody to keep in mind however that Minnesota are not as bad as their first four games showed them to be. It was a bigger shock they had that four game run of big losses rather than beating us and they had to break that streak at some point. Add to the fact that we were down some big name players, playing of turf and Nick Rimando was possessed in the second half by the spirit of England's Goalkeepers and well, maybe it’s not time for a total meltdown yet!
Whatever is happening up front for RSL, it's time for a change. Yura has two goals to his name now, but he should have many more by now and I think even the most ardent nostalgia fans can see he's not playing at the level he once was. See, sometimes forwards don't score because they are getting poor service but in this case, Yura is playing in a style and position where he should be the one finishing the chances off. As the chart below shows, he's getting the service:
Yura is no. 14, so you can ignore one of those green passes, but these are successful (green), attempted (red) and key (yellow) passes in the final part of the field. Notice how many get into the box and yet we are still on 3 goals for the season? The service has been there and now we need somebody who will finish them. Yura is struggling to do that right now for whatever reason and so a change is needed. It's hard when we're low on numbers but Lennon, Velazco or even Rusnák could start up top and provide a youthful charge in the forward line.
We're top of the league when it comes to fouls now with 72 over 5 games. Montreal have 70 and the next team behind the two of us? Philly on 61! We're atrocious right now when it comes to fair play and it's starting to get frustrating. I understand as much as anybody that having a battling central midfielder or a commanding centre back is entertaining and creates a passionate response from the fans but when it's at the expense of flowing tactical play it's just counter productive and we need to knock it off. Not only are we losing games thanks to this, we're losing players to suspensions at a time where we need every able body on the field.
It's such a cop-out answer, really, and I feel bad for putting it — but I don't know what else I can put without ignoring a hole elsewhere. We need to be better than this all over the field, no excuses. Defending, Organisation, Possession, Off the Ball, Everything. The players need to take stock of themselves and decide what they want their legacy to be. Perhaps we are relying on youth too much but Rimando, Beltran, Beckerman, Sunny and Yura are experienced heads here. Maund and Plata are not kids either and yet we're not getting the performances we are used to.
If I'm Mike Petke, first thing on the list is a team meeting to discuss the recent form. Then I'm looking at the market and seeing if Khiry Shelton is still on the block so I can put Lennon in the middle of the top 3. Finally, I'd lock our defence in a room and have them talk it out so next time they are out on the field they work together rather than against each other. It's going to be interesting to see what effect he has on the team in our next match as we look for our first win of the season.