On any other day, a 6-2 result on the road to LA Galaxy would usually mean Real Salt Lake took another hiding. But this is Independence Day, which to my understanding as a Brit is the day Jeff Goldblum rises from the sea to take another American town down to his lair so that he can consume it and remain forever young. Real Salt Lake decided today was the day for a revolution and turned on the style and bag three huge points. All it needed was a slow motion explosion with a cigar in mouth from Mike Petke.
So, three things to do better? I actually don't know! But three things to repeat? We can do that.
Do this again
So, this is the obvious one, right? The big thing to point out is Real Salt Lake only did one thing differently and that was take their chances. We fielded was was probably the strongest starting line up we have with every player in their best position and each player being the number one in the depth chart and it showed. We dominated the performance again with more shots, crosses, passes and marginally better possession. That's not new in any way for us because we've managed that in almost every game this season, especially since Petke has been in charge. Breaking down the Whoscored.com stats show RSL have an average passing rate of 399, shooting rate of 11 and possession rate of 52.3% per game. Against LA Galaxy we managed 405 passes and 51.9% of the possession which gives us our season average but we hit 23 shots this time with 12 on target. So to be clear, our average total shots per game is 11, and yet against LA, we managed to double that.
If you take that many shots eventually something goes in and it certainly did at LA with 6 goals coming over the course of 90 minutes. They were all good goals with highlight real stuff in there, especially the account opener of Jefferson Savarino! So let’s repeat the shooting volume and accuracy!
A few good men
Like I said, we fielded what was on paper our best squad tonight with Plata, Savarino and Yura up front, Rusnak, Beckerman and Mulholland in mid and a back line of Philips, Glad, Maund and Beltran. We don't get better than this right now and a loss would have all but confirmed that some of these players aren't good enough to keep a first team job. There are still questions to be asked I feel about some things such as why we needed heroics from Aaron Maund 15 minutes into the game or how that goal from Jamieson IV ended up in the net (which Nick Rimando seemed to be asking even though the win was in the bag,) but all in all, that was a complete performance. We had 15 key passes according to MLS.com which is makes the 7 LA Galaxy took look small-time. Our crossing volume was good but the accuracy was the only downside, with only 1 open play cross coming through. But our passing web was fantastic, with a clear shift to playing out from the back and moving the ball up and around the field.
That shift has been part of the Petke ideology for the last few games, and we've seen that come to life, just without success. The issue with playing a make shift team or playing young players without experience is sometimes it doesn't work as we've very well seen this year. We had our best guys in each slot tonight and suddenly it all clicked. Of all the people who were left out I think I would only be fine with Lennon being added to the line up and when Silva joins up with the team I'd be ok with him coming in, but keep this line up until the wheels fall off because it worked.
I can't say this one enough. No, we are not out of the woods yet. This is a clearing in the woods where the sun is pouring in and the breeze is flowing and we all feel great, there's still a chance we're going to get mauled by a bear or Fox Muldered by aliens. Freak results happen all the time in sports and with Real Salt Lake having a season from hell it could easily go off the trail one again. You play until the final whistle and that isn't exclusive to the 90 minutes you're on the field but the 9 month slog that is Major League Soccer. We have a big rest now until the 19th when we travel to Portland and taking our focus of being as good as this against them would land us right back in the woods running from a bear again.
I will say that I'm very happy for Bradford Jamieson IV to have a goal. He's a player who I actually like and would like to see do well so it was nice to see him score. I'm happier that Salt Lake got a win as well to keep this season exciting and keep us off the floor of the west. We move into the transfer territory now, and a result like this will scratch so many heads. How can you justify dropping anybody after that, even if it was the exception rather than the rule to make room for new players coming in? How can you not put new players in when over the course of the season most of the players in that first 11 have underperformed? Mike Petke is the man who will answer that question on the 19th, so until then we can keep watching this gif and smile..
July 5, 2017