Ok, I think I'm done crying after that result...
Yeah, that was really bad. Chivas USA bad, which is not where you want to be! A hot night in Houston with an even hotter Dynamo leaves Real Salt Lake scrambling for answers at defence and clinging on to a the four point keeping them off the floor of the Western Conference. I can't tell if it's a tailspin or not, 2 wins and 3 loses in the last 5 isn't bad on paper but the way we've lost those 3 has been crushing. RSL are a bit like Nicholas Cage at the moment and are either putting on masterworks or being Ghost Rider and setting fire to their heads. Dallas are going to be a tough match for a group who will be at the lowest point of their season and so to come out with anything this weekend we're going to be the opposite of what we saw this weekend. So, here are the three things we need to do better against FC Dallas.
It's easy to just pick on the whole defence here but I there needs to be something a little more nuanced when looking at what's wrong. Firstly, I'm going to jump to the defence of rookie Justin Schmidt for that first goal. If he didn't at least try stop that ball, it would have been in anyway. He had to stick his leg out and it was unfortunate that it bounced in. The inquisition needs to be of Aaron Maund who first didn't stop the runner and then just switched off and jogged in the box leaving the ball to fly across to the back post. It's 3 minutes into the game and already we've got players just jogging about while we defend instead of playing to win the ball back or stop the cross! How is that in any way close to acceptable for a team that 4 years ago were an inch from the title and who should be fighting for play off places? The second goal, Schmidt did have a part to play but even the commentary team pointed out that Savarino, Yura and even Kyle Beckerman all stood still and didn't close the man down!
How is Plata beaten? Why has nobody closed the angle down? Who is everybody yelling at when the ball goes in? The responsibility is on all of them to put the work in to defend. Compare that to the chance for Plata just before where Leonardo blocks it. That's a player who's committed himself to stopping the shot. It's the difference between night and day and it needs to be dealt with, somehow.
Style over Substance?
Real Salt Lake dominated Houston. On paper. More shots on target. More passes. Higher passing accuracy. More possession too. Over all the key stats Real Salt Lake were ahead, sometimes by a large margin. How did we lose I hear you ask? Well, it's all well and good having those stats in your favour is useless if you don't do something with it and I can't quite see what Real Salt Lake are trying to do. We had several good chances and came up against a strong Tyler Deric (in another game we'd have won this one) and he was only beaten by a goal of the week candidate from Plata. We're attacking and playing some good balls to split the defence but there's no follow up when the shots don't go in. We're not really attacking in number and rather just breaking and hoping to do what Houston did and make every shot count. I'm not sold on this for a team that's low on goals scored and high on goals conceded. Defend higher and attack in numbers and you force an opposition to sit deeper which means they are less likely to score. I don't know, I'm no master tactician but sitting deep and inviting players in with this squad seems like a poor way to set up to me.
No, not those types of goals. I mean having a squad that's the envy of the league. I'm going to be blunt (shocking, I know!) and say this:
- Aaron Maund, in this form, isn't good enough to be in the squad (last weeks heroics be damned, it shouldn't come to heroics)
- Sunny isn't good enough to be in this team and hasn't been for a while
- Our bench has questionable depth as it's stocked with either rookies or players who have form that is up and down on a week to week basis
Basically, somebody has messed up when they put these players together. I don't care if Glad is out and Lennon is away and people are injured, that's what depth is for. There needs to be some drastic moves when the secondary window opens because this isn't a playoff team. There are weaknesses all over and a lack of leaders on the pitch and without fixing that, I'm going to be writing things like this a lot.
It's a long road when you're a team in transition and it's felt like RSL have been on that road for years now. I'm sure Cassar would tell you he was close to finishing the job and now we are starting it all over again with Petke. It's a draining process for fans but I think Soapbox regular and buffalo wing enthusiast Andy Graff put it best:
But we’re certainly in a place right now where Salt Lake Till I Die really means something. With a winning team, till I die is something you say. With a losing team, till I die is a mantra that bolsters your club. We’re not here for the fair weather. We’re not here because we want to be. We have to be. RSL flows through our blood, it’s stamped on our bones, it’s etched into our skin. We’re here for RSL. You can take my money, you can take my time, but you can’t take my heart. It’s with RSL.
For those of you still with us, we're on to the next one. Maybe we can win, if you believe...