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What we learned: RSL vs Philadelphia Union

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A healthy defense helps. Who knew?

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Real Salt Lake Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Having a real backline helps and it is nice to have Beltran back in the lineup after ten matches away. He’s been so consistent historically that I think we lost track of just how strong a piece of our team he really is until he was missing. Match that with a choice center back pairing and Wingert in his most familiar position, and we have a good looking defense. We pulled out a clean sheet.

I used to joke that RSL would be an easy team to coach. I would have one simple rule: if your name is not Javi, pass the ball to Javi. I’m a bigger fan of assists than I am of goals. The game hinges on guys who make plays and set up the strikers for goals. Are there some amazing goals that players create for themselves and execute individually? Certainly, and those are incredible to watch. But I want to watch the playmakers in action and it looks like we’re finally getting there. The interplay between Plata and Savarino on that goal was gorgeous. Our attacking front needs quality service and Savarino brings that. I would like to see more of our attack funnel through Rusnák; that guy is quality.

Petke’s getting this team where it needs to be. And let’s be clear, we’re still going to struggle this season. His tinkering is not done. This team is not a finished product in any way. There is still a long way to go, but we’re moving to where we need to be. I wonder if there are players who they don’t see as best fits for Petke’s system. Are there players on the market that fit his vision? Will we see some moves this summer to fill out this team to his expectations? I think there are some moves that could be made, but I also won’t be disappointed if we do little. A DP or TAM level center back would be nice.

Overreactions

RSL goes unbeaten for the rest of the season, Nick Rimando finally wins Goalkeeper of the Year, Mike Petke earns Coach of the Year, Plata gets the Golden Boot and knocks in a record amount of hat tricks, and Rusnák becomes the Landon Donovan MVP. RSL is subsequently promoted to The Bundesliga.

Maybe a bit much there. RSL makes the playoffs?