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RSL vs. San Jose preseason preview

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Expect a defensive focus from Petke’s men, but can RSL also find attacking success again?

MLS: LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The joy of preseason is, I think, that you get to see things you don’t normally see from Real Salt Lake, while at the same time, we’re seeing things we hope to see integrated into the team throughout the season.

That’s why, in watching our first preseason match, we didn’t see a complete match, but we did see some interesting things. We saw, for instance, 24 players, and we’re only likely to see that many players during the season over, say, six-to-eight weeks.

It’s also why we saw an RSL team that, to be honest, didn’t attack with much vim and vigor, despite our 3-1 win. We were good, but we weren’t amazing, and we didn’t need to be. We focused (rightly, I suspect) on integrating pieces of the playing style. We saw a more defense-minded RSL, and I think that’s what we’re likely to see again, given we’re still in the first leg of preseason, and it’s only been a few short days since the last match.

So expect to see a defense-minded RSL, and expect to see a team that’s looking largely to find a little bit of defensive consistency. By the same token, I’d be interested to see something approach a “starting lineup” for opening day, not because I think it’s a good idea, but because I’m just curious.

Free-kick awareness

If there’s one thing we missed — and we saw this in the goal we gave up — it was a concrete defensive plan on free kicks, and we saw that evidence laid out in the corner we conceded from.

If we’re to be successful in 2018, we will need to make defending free kicks a primary focus. If we turn off or lose concentration and focus during that time, we will find success very difficult to come by. That’s absolutely not what we need, and I think we are set up properly to handle this, so I’d just like to see it happen.

New players

We should have an opportunity to see a few of our new folks in play, like Adam Henley and Shawn Barry. Both of them played on Saturday, but will we see them again? I’d like to see how they combine with the players around them.

As far as Barry is concerned, we saw some work from him on Saturday that was impressive, but I’d like to see how he fares next to a Marcelo Silva or Justen Glad. Can he put himself in line for the third spot, or is he going to end up behind David Horst?

With Henley, I’d like to see him moving forward a bit more effectively, but this goes right back to the focus of the team in preseason — and that’s going to be on defense. Still, a quick right back can really open a game up, and I want to see how he can do that.

Finally, I’d love to see Alfredo Ortuño with our strongest team. I know he’s still acclimating in many ways, and he almost certainly will require some time to get match fit, but I want to know who we’re dealing with, what he can provide, and what it is about his play that makes him a valuable player for us — not for another team in highlights videos. I’m optimistic and excited, but I’m also feeling antsy.

Does Yura Movsisyan still exist?

We’d heard that Movsisyan would be involved in camp with RSL in Arizona, but is he there, and is he training? Or is that plan no longer the case? This is still the biggest mystery of preseason, and I think we need to reach resolution on this before the season starts. If he’s going to stay (and I know some Armenian publication will quote me on this, because it keeps happening, strangely enough), then I want to know why, and I want him to perform. If he’s not going to stay, that’s fine, too. I just want to know.