There’s nothing more satisfying than developing and executing a game plan and the space of 4 days, Real Salt Lake managed just that. More impressively, one of those games was on the road where the whole league has struggled to pick up points. Those 6 points are even sweeter for how they came about, with a tactical approach that highlighted our strengths while hiding our weaknesses well. It was never going to be tika-taka or total football but it was everything we needed. Now, the plans weren’t executed to perfection, so where could Petke and Co have improved on things? Well, let’s take a look:
It was very clear from the outset that Petke realised that no matter what we did or who played there, we would be weakest in the full back position as always. We gave up more crosses in both games and defended them reasonably well for most of the game however the only goal we conceded over 180 minutes was from a cross, with Quioto and Elis linking up to score the easiest goal he’s going to get all season.
I don’t mind giving up crosses as part of a game plan; I don’t mind losing a battle to win the war at all. However, if letting teams cross and defending in the box is part of that game plan then we need to stay focused during those phases of play. RSL has had a habit of switching off from time to time and if we have to accept that this is a team that, through age, fatigue or whatever, are going to shut off for five minutes over the course of a game, it can’t be during one of the key parts of a game plan.
I will hold my hands up now and say that counter-attacking play is my favourite kind of football. It’s because I grew up watching late ‘90s English football which was all about long balls and playing as fast as you can for as long as you can. There’s several Twitter accounts for crap ‘90s football that define my childhood, so it brings me great joy to watch RSL sit back, absorb the pressure with gutsy defending and then try to break with its youth and pace. It’s like a warm blanket or nostalgia for my cold, black heart.
So, the flip side of this is we’re giving up the game in tackling. Going back to my point about a game plan, if we are wanting to give up on the tackling then that’s fine by me, but we need to actually make them work when we do commit. We gave up more fouls and made less tackles in both game which isn’t ideal for a team who’s struggled to keep clean sheets. Like I said, I don’t mind giving up something to win the game but that doesn’t mean we should settle for poor performances in those elements that aren’t important.
Are we ready for a hot take?!?!
Right. Bofo has two assists and a goal in three games. That’s excellent form for a young player and a testament to the academy. But.....
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here with praise. Bofo is better suited to the left winger role than Plata and I feel this idea is starting to get more visibility. That means Bofo is going to look better because he’s playing a role that’s better suited for the team and better suited to his talents. What we need to do now is not thrust him into being the next huge superstar. Baird, Acosta, Glad, Besler and Ruiz have had good and bad games this season which is to be expected for a young player, Bofo will be no exception to this rule and his form will dip. This isn’t a disaster, this isn’t a deal breaker or a sign that he’s not good enough, it will be part of his development. Let him play bad, let him stink up the pitch for a few games and it will build his character and teach him. We learn through out failures and when Bofo fails, we need to make sure we support him as much as we have done in the good times.
Man, it’s been a wild ride to see Real Salt Lake start a game without Kyle Beckerman in the first 11. It’s our future for sure, but what a rough ride for fans to see us line up without him and do well for a time. Then, of course, he comes off the bench and saves us like the hero he is and reminds us how we need him to keep taking trips to the fountain of youth with Nicky. Just keep sending them out until 2035 and wait for them to get those 1000th appearance.