With a quick turnaround following their game against SKC on Wednesday, RSL return to the RioT tonight to take on FC Dallas, who also won their game on Wednesday to vault them to the top of the Western Conference standings. With this being the first meeting between these two teams since the 2018 season opener, a few things have definitely changed for each team. What might we see from each team tonight? Let’s talk about it!
Real Salt Lake
The game against SKC didn’t start out the best for the Claret and Cobalt. For the first 20+ minutes the team looked disjointed and frankly a little slow. So when SKC scored in the 20th minute, things didn’t look optimal. But the team proved everyone wrong and played they way they are capable of playing, scored three goals and walked into halftime with a 3-1 lead.
Of course, now everybody wants to know exactly what RSL did to be so dominant during that stretch and how we can replicate that style of play across a full 90 minutes and from game to game each week. The simple answer? For those 25 minutes, and through much of the second half, the team simply played Mike Petke’s system to perfection. They got forward, pressured the ball, and stayed balanced. Check out the player position chart below:
The player position chart tracks all players movements throughout the entire game and then shows each player’s average position on the field over the course of 90 minutes. As we look at this chart from RSL, we can see how well balanced the team was both front to back and side to side. If the team can continue to put in performances like this, we should continue to see success.
So what might we see from the Claret and Cobalt against FC Dallas tonight? I expect to largely see the same lineup on the field, with the exception of Kyle Beckerman coming back for Damir Kreilach in the midfield. The good news is that both teams played Wednesday, so heavy legs are something that both teams will have to deal with. And with FC Dallas coming here to play at altitude, you have to feel like that gives a slight edge to RSL as the game goes on.
Through 17 games so far this season, FC Dallas have compiled a 10-2-5 overall record, good for 35 points and 1st place in the current Western Conference table. It is good to note that both of the losses FC Dallas have suffered so far this season have been on the road, so that is at least some good news to hold on to for RSL fans.
This season FC Dallas’ attack is being led by MF Roland Lamah and FW Max Urruti, who have combined together for 13 goals and 6 assists so far in the 2018 campaign. It should be noted that no other player on the team has scored more that 2 goals this season, so a lot of the focus will be on Lamah and Urruti.
Also a big point for FC Dallas is that they recently sold #10 playmaker Mauro Diaz, without a clear replacement for him. How exactly the team will play and function without him is something that definitely remains to be seen. The departure of Diaz definitely leaves a hole in the side, as he had contributed 2 goals and a team leading 5 assists so far in the 2018 season. FC Dallas are going to have to figure out who is going to step up into that playmaker role and be the creator for them. They were able to eke out a win against Atlanta on Wednesday largely by just catching them on the counter, so that is something RSL is definitely going to want to be aware of.
DF: Lennon, M. Silva, Glad, Acosta
MF: Beckerman, Sunny
MF: Savarino, Rusnak, Saucedo
RSL’s keys to the match
- Continue to play Mike Petke’s system. Stay balanced, press well, and always be ready to spring the counter attack. We have seen time and time again that playing this system creates good scoring opportunities. As our young players continue to gain experience, we will start seeing them score more often when they have those opportunities.
- Control the movement and opportunity given to Urruti and Lamah. Keeping tabs on those two players will definitely put a damper on anything that FC Dallas is trying to do offensively.