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RSL on the brink: Team posts worst away record in 34-game MLS era

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MLS: Real Salt Lake at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake’s home form is going to end as one of the best in the league.

With 11 wins, two losses and four draws, the team’s home record (11-2-4) equaled that of Atlanta United FC and was slightly behind New York Red Bulls (13-2-1) and D.C. United (13-2-2).

It’s also the best home record in the Western Conference, tied with our last opponent Portland Timbers. With a record like that, something must have gone seriously wrong for us to be on the verge of playoff elimination.

Interestingly, our home record is the second-best its been in the 34-game era — 2011-forward — while our road record is the worst its been in the same period. Moreover, it’s the worst away record we’ve seen since 2009, when we earned just eight road points. (The full record is at the end of this article.)

This is why I’m refusing to see our home record as our downfall. Yes, we gave up a couple easy points at home, and we could have and should have done better. But we had our second-best home record ever — 2014, our first year under Jeff Cassar, was better. 2010 was better on average, and with two more home games, it’s distinctly possible we’d have had 12 or 13 home wins.

I don’t know immediately how to get into the whys and wherefores of all this, but I do think it’s worth calling attention to these numbers. We can be rueful of the matches we should have won at home, and I would hardly dispute that. But soccer is a game where results will, at times, betray how good you are, and outside of two distinct matches at home — terrible losses, to be clear — we were very good at home.

On the road, we were not. I don’t think we can really spend too much time rueing our very good home record before you absolutely have to look at how bad we were on the road. We finished with a -17 road goal differential over 17 matches. If you take away a 6-0 win over Colorado Rapids as an outlier — which I’d argue it was, though it was a fantastic outlier — that’s a -23 goal differential over 16 matches. We averaged a goal-and-a-half loss over 16 games. It’s not nearly good enough.

We’ll talk more about this soon from a statistical and tactical perspective. For now, let’s just soak up the facts.

Historical home record vs. away record

34-games era

  • 2018: 11-2-4 | 3-11-3
  • 2017: 9-4-4 | 4-11-2
  • 2016: 8-1-8 | 4-11-2
  • 2015: 7-4-6 | 4-11-2
  • 2014: 11-1-5 | 4-7-6
  • 2013: 10-3-4 | 6-7-4
  • 2012: 11-4-2 | 6-7-4
  • 2011: 10-3-4 | 5-8-4

30-games era

  • 2010: 11-0-4 | 4-4-7
  • 2009: 9-1-5 | 2-11-2
  • 2008: 8-1-6 | 2-9-4
  • 2007: 4-7-4 | 2-8-5

32-games era

  • 2006: 6-4-6 | 4-9-3
  • 2005: 5-8-3 | 0-14-2