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Let’s Talk: Why is RSL good at home, bad on the road?

The statistics don’t tell the whole story.

MLS: Seattle Sounders at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Tomorrow’s RSL match day, which should bring you no small amount of joy: Real Salt Lake, after 21 days, has a home match again.

But before you get all negative on me, hear me out. We’re actually, like, good at home. It’s not something you would have expected after LAFC dropped five on us in our home opener, but it’s true. We haven’t just not lost at home since then; we haven’t not won.

I could talk about how we play with more joy at home, but I don’t think that’s particularly meaningful, nor do I think it’s useful. Instead, let’s take a look at some of the things we’ve doing better from a statistical perspective.

  • We’re shooting more when we’re at home. No surprise here — that’s a normal thing between home and away performances, even when a team is successful. (15.9/g home, 11.8/g away)
  • Our passing between home and away matches is actually very similar from a high-level perspective. We attempt around 465 per game at home and 461 away. We do attempt more long balls at home than away — 73 to 69 — but, again, it’s a surprisingly close thing.
  • We score an average of two goals per game at home and 0.6 away. I know we’ve been bad about conceding goals, but that’s actually less concerning to me than our inability to score.
  • Interestingly, we average more interceptions on the road, with 16.4 compared to 12.1 at home.
  • We end up with more yellow cards for fouls at home — nine to our five away.
  • Jefferson Savarino is the only player on the road with more than two shots per game averaged — he’s at 2.4. Six players have done so at home: Damir Kreilach (2.1), Sebastian Saucedo (2.3), Savarino (2.3), Pablo Ruiz (2.5), Joao Plata (2.6) and Albert Rusnak (3).

In isolation, none of these statistics mean anything particularly meaningful. To really dig in, I’d like to understand where our passes are taking place. Are we passing more in the final third at home than away? Is it more about defending? Those statistics are not so easily revealed through the readily available tools, but might it be something? Again, I don’t know — I’d like to know.