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Three things to do better after being blown out by The Union

RSL are making conceding three on the road look like too much of a habit.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Philadelphia Union Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

When do we start the conversation about some of the other problems Real Salt Lake are having? We’ve talked a lot about the full back issues and those issues still exist and are a very prominent weakness, especially the issue regarding left back and the long term aim for that spot. But after this Union game it feels like some of the other issues stood out much more than the full backs and yet we’re not giving them the attention they need.

Picking three things to do better is hard sometimes because there’s so much to pick from, sometimes it’s hard because their aren’t three things. At other times, it’s hard to pick them because, well, they are focused around the same people who keep making mistakes and giving up goals on a regular basis. Having looked back at the goals we gave up it’s easy to point the finger at the full backs however considering the goals in a tactical context, I can only point the finger at the centre backs.

Yes, I am sure Keenan. Hold on to your orange soda, because I’ve got proof to back it up!


The first goal was a sign of how weak we can be defensively and how our mistakes are easy to exploit. Marcus Epps timed his run to perfection to create distance between himself and Pablo Ruiz to slide home a cool finish but there’s another question to be asked on this.

You can see here that Justen Glad has made the choice to stop the cross coming in. He’s positioned himself between the ball and the striker rushing into the box. However, he’s running into a space that’s about to be occupied by Silva, who has picked up the same player Glad has half an eye on, and Kreilach, who is tracking the late runner. If Glad is going to stop that cross, why isn’t he coming in closer to shut the angles out? Why doesn’t he allow his team mates to mark the men they are in charge of? When the cross comes in he does a very poor job of stopping it coming in and end up missing the ball altogether. Everyone else is tracking their man leaving a young and inexperienced left back to be taken advantage off. We have to make better choices when the break is on and we need to commit to them too.


The second goal showed the lack of chemistry this team has at times with Glad and Silva having a bit off a miscommunication in terms of coverage.

Glad has seen Dockal moving into space and points to the hole to cover at the same time Dockal signals where he want’s the ball. Glad is tracking his man and sticks to his role, a safe choice and one he does stick to. Silva either doesn’t hear him or doesn’t get what he is asking because he leaves his position to close the ball down, opening up the space ever wider for Dockal to exploit. Krealich can’t keep up with him (would Luke have made it?) and it’s a one touch finish to double the lead. A defence that can’t communicate is a defence that will give up goals and this game showed it. There is a distinct lack of leadership and experience in this defence and that’s not something that comes easily. There’s a lot to be said for a guy like Horst retaining a role in the line up to help galvanise the team and I think Real Salt Lake need to stop focusing on youth and line up a little experience in defence.


The third goal is a classic issue for a team chasing the game who are down a goal. Silva gets caught behind Rimando trying to defend and both guys end up stuck and unable to get to the ball.

It’s just simple stuff at this point now. Silva has no business being stuck there when Rimando has closed the ball down and the organisation of the defence in this goal is really shocking. Don’t lose sight of defending when you’re chasing a win, guys.

Glad had a poor game this week but Silva was especially bad. I’ve already said Nick Besler should keep his job for a little longer as Silva doesn’t add anything that Besler hasn’t and I stand by it after this game. I also can’t understand how Acosta can’t get a shot with Ruiz struggling. A little rest and a chance to watch the game from the sideline might go a long was for the young defender-who-is-actually-a-winger. There’s a piece of this team missing right now and I really believe that it’s an MLS veteran in defence. Somebody who’s been around the league for a long time and can lead against the teams we are facing. Tony Beltran offered a lot to this team and we’re missing it like mad right now. Do we go to market to fix this? My gut says yes.

Also, for a head coach who is in charge of team selection, roster composition, coaching sessions and almost all other aspects of the first team, Mike Petke put’s an awful lot of what happens to this team down to luck. I mean, eventually it’s got to be our fault and something needs to change, right?

We’re on the road again against Seattle next week and I’m not really feeling it. We need some answers and we need them fast otherwise we’re going to get steamrolled again by a team far stronger than The Union. Or we will blow them out by 4 goals. There’s no in between with this team. We’re either the 1972 Miami Dolphins or the 2017 Cleveland Browns. There’s no middle ground with us right now.