Joao Plata the Predictable
In the first half, Joao Plata looked reasonably motivated, albeit underserved in receiving the ball anywhere. Once new signing Jefferson Savarino entered the match, Plata switched from an under-the-striker role to a left-wing role, and there he stayed.
There’s nothing wrong with that on its own. Plata’s good on the left side, largely because he can cut inside and wreak havoc on defenses. What we got from Plata? Well, we certainly got him on the left side cutting in — over and over and over. The amount of variation we saw from Plata was basically nonexistent. He’d take the ball on his right foot, dribble a little, and then one of three things would happen.
Plata would lose possession, or he’d attempt a pass toward the middle, or he’d take a tame shot at the goalkeeper.
Mike Petke the Organizer
That first half from Real Salt Lake had to be one of the most defensively organized performances I’ve seen from the team all year. That doesn’t mean it was the best, of course — we still conceded in that half, and we nearly did so a few more times. We simply weren’t passing well.
It led to some terribly lopsided statistics — like our 25 percent possession number. That was clearly purposeful, as we looked to keep things level in that first half, but who knows what we might have tried in the second half, given we conceded anyway.
The big difference, for me, was that the team looked prepared to give away passes. Instead of being caught out every time a pass didn’t go our way, we simply got back into defensive positions. Now, maybe that’s not what you want from your team, but it certainly was organized.
Kyle Beckerman the Interceptor
RSL’s captain finished the match with six interceptions, all in the middle third. Of course, that number doesn’t mean much on its own, but it was clear that Beckerman was picking things off, and that helped to propel the RSL attack in the second half.
I really do think it’s been obvious how much of a difference Beckerman makes when he plays, and even if he can’t get up and down the field like he might have five years ago, he’s crafted his game in such a way that he doesn’t need to. Mike Petke is giving him the proper role now, and someday, that might translate to results.