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The Salt: RSL, a draw, and setting new standards

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RSL remains one of the worst road teams in the league.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at San Jose Earthquakes Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that was certainly a weekend.

No Utah Royals action, less the U.S. Women; Real Monarchs won; and Real Salt Lake — well, let’s just start there, shall we?

Drawn and Quartered

OK, so we drew on the road. I have a few thoughts about this, and I’d like to lay them out in sequential order.

  1. This is only the fifth point we’ve earned on the road.
  2. This is only the 13th point that San Jose has earned all season.
  3. We’re not great at this road thing.

I don’t really have too many other thoughts than that (this is a lie), but I just want to ruminate on that. Sure, we should be happy with a point on the road. But it also shouldn’t be so rare an occasion that we have cause to celebrate, and it especially shouldn’t be that way when we’re playing against literally the worst team in MLS.

San Jose hadn’t managed a shutout all year.

All year.

But here’s something I found interesting. This was just the fifth shutout that San Jose had been kept to all year, too. That’s ridiculous. And it was the fourth shutout we’ve been kept to all year. I have this weird feeling that we’re two sides of the same coin, and you know what? That scares me a lot.

After all, our road performances set us as one of the worst road teams in MLS. Our home performances have been so good that we’re in a playoff spot, but if you take our five road points, you’d be hard pressed to find a team worse. It’s quite remarkable, really.

Tactical flexibility and injuries

AHHHH. OK. Albert Rusnak going out injured early isn’t good. Being a non-contact injury is worse. I don’t know yet if he’s OK, and I sure hope he is. Being without him might sink our season. But it does bring to mind something about our tactics that I’d like to talk about.

Chiefly, that our tactics are fairly one-dimensional, and that’s sort of in our blood. If you think back to the Kreis years, you’ll remember a team that played in a 4-4-2 diamond and not much else. We occasionally would try a new shape, but we also spent part of the summer of 2011 playing JEAN ALEXANDRE AND LUIS GIL as forwards. Sure, it was something different, but I don’t think it was particularly good.

And that’s sort of what we have now. Mike Petke isn’t really revolutionizing the tactical approach out there. I started this section wanting to be upset about that, but I think it’s just the sort of coach he is, and I think I just sort of have to be OK with that. Besides, there’s not much option there, is there? Mike Petke is our coach, and I think he’s a pretty good one, too. It’s just that I have some points of confusion.

(Seriously though. Jean Alexandre and 16-year-old Luis Gil. Think about that next time you complain about Kreilach as our forward.)

I said this on Twitter, but I’ll say it again here. I really would love to see us have one or two tactical approaches we can add to our rotation when things aren’t working. That’s hard in MLS with our limited roster construction guidelines, but it’s also hard when you have approximately one million injured players.

I really want to list them here, so you’ll just have to deal with it.

  • Tony Beltran (GAH)
  • Demar Phillips
  • Luke Mulholland
  • Alex Horwath
  • Jordan Allen
  • David Horst
  • Ricky Lopez-Espin
  • Luis Silva
  • Connor Sparrow

Throw in players that might as well be injured — Adam Henley, formerly Alfredo Ortuno — and you’ve got a recipe for not being very flexible. It’s sort of amazing that we’ve made it as far as we have on the backs of so few players. I’d love to see this list clear up, but I think we’ll have to wait until 2076 to see that happen. Depressing.

Acosta, Herrera and our left back situation

So, uh, Danilo Acosta isn’t starting again, but I’m not actually panicked about that fact. I think Aaron Herrera has done pretty well at left back, and I think we can see that he’s just working his tail off to get the minutes he has so far. Unlike earlier in the year, when Acosta’s absence was super weird and he should have been playing (much to our detriment as a team), now we have Herrera stepping up well.

I do still think that it’s weird, but you know what? I’m not the coach. (Good thing, too.)

But the other thing we might consider is that Mike Petke has been sidelined by his own rant, and maybe this is Freddy Juarez making his pick. I don’t know. I wish I did.

The Off-Topic

What I’ve been watching

My wife and I just finished the first season of GLOW, which has been a great wrestling drama-romp. I’m glad I waited to watch until there were two seasons available, because it’s much more entertaining to not have to wait. (I hate having to wait.)

What I’ve been reading

I’m still reading The Left Hand of Darkness, so that’s something. I’ll get through it eventually. Aside from that, I’ve been wading through my backlog of comics, slowly but surely. I just finished up Infidel, which was fantastic, but it’s not for the faint of heart.

What I’ve been playing

I’m still in the deep rough, which is to say, I’m still very much enjoying Golf Story. As far as board games go, we played another game of Charterstone last night, and that remains a very compelling legacy experience. I’ve also been putting in some Carcassonne on my tablet, which is always good.