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The Salt: Gambling, fouls, subs and RSL

Lucas Muller, RSL Soapbox

What a weekend it was. Real Salt Lake dropped points, Real Monarchs dropped points, and, yes, Utah Royals — you guessed it — dropped points.

I’m salty about that, and you probably are, too. Let’s not go too in-depth on the what, because we have plenty of coverage around that. Read it, if you want. We talk about the why, too, so I’m going to just talk about a few things that came to mind.


I completely understand why Mike Petke put three men up-field on defensive corner kicks — it led to the first goal, after all. But I think it led to Montreal’s equalizer, and he seems to agree. From the post-match:

(The goal was) to keep extra players back, with the pace and creativity of Albert, Plata and Savarino, it felt like we could catch them, and we did. Perhaps it’s on me, after it’s 1-0, I should have pulled one of them to the top of the box. Risk-reward — I’m comfortable 0-0, but up 1-0, I should have probably pulled Albert to the top of the box.

Fair enough. I appreciate it when a coach will own up to decisions that didn’t exactly go the way of the team. We gambled and won, and we gambled and lost. In the end, it came out even. That’s probably just about right.

Albert Rusnak wasn’t fouled

So this is something interesting. The MLS box score shows Albert Rusnak as not having been fouled in the match. Given we historically are used to Javier Morales there, who was fouled all the time, I thought I might go look through the stats and see if this is a common thing or a rarity that Rusnak isn’t fouled.

It turns out, it is. Rusnak has suffered just 16 fouls in 22 games. Jefferson Savarino has suffered 55 in 24 games. Damir Kreilach has suffered 38 in 24. I don’t think it’s necessarily a problem that Rusnak isn’t being fouled more, but it should open us up to some thinking about why that’s the case.

So, why? Is Rusnak less dangerous on the ball? Perhaps — Javier would try insane things, and Rusnak is more reserved at times. But it may equally be about how we’re utilizing him, too. He’s doing well enough in assists at six — I think he’d be doing better if we had some true goalscorers — but I think the real story is about how our midfield shape works.

I’d argue that Rusnak, as the primary distributor, is much more focused on getting the ball and spreading it wide than we are used to. Still, he’s leading the team in key passes, so I don’t think we have room to complain, but this is something I’ll be thinking about this week as we watch him.

Substitution patterns

If you think back to Jeff Cassar’s reign at RSL, you might remember that he was often reluctant to make substitutions, typically leaving them for late on. I think we’ve seen that same pattern from Petke, though not necessarily to the same ill effect.

I recall a certain general manager talking about how he showed Cassar the numbers about when players were substituted and correlated it with involvement and results. I’d love to see — or run — numbers like that, because I’m way too curious for my own good.

I just wonder — would fresh legs have made a huge difference for RSL in, say, the 60th minute instead of the 80th? Would Sebastian Saucedo have had more of a chance to get into the game, then influence it, rather than being thrust into the game late? I have more questions than answers.

One in nine isn’t good enough

Real Salt Lake, Utah Royals and Real Monarchs all failed in their bids for wins, and I don’t want to moan about that too much, because really, that’s what I’ve done the rest of this. But I’m disappointed, to be sure. Each team had opportunities to secure something, and we didn’t take it.

Other stuff

What I’m watching: I’ve been re-watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which remains an outstanding television series. I could watch through it every year and be happy. I’m currently in the middle of season six. Ah. It’s so good.

What I’m not watching: Real Salt Lake winning games. At least not that often. Sigh.

What I’m reading: I just finished I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, which I started a few months ago when Tony Beltran’s book club started. I took way too long with that.

What I’m listening to: The Alan Parsons Project, Eye in the Sky.

What I just finished playing: Golf Story. Fantastic. A bit short for an RPG, but it was also not expensive. I haven’t picked up another game yet. Any suggestions?

What I’m playing, part duex: Over the last week, I’ve played Sagrada, in which you build a stained glass cathedral window; Root, an asymmetrical affair in which you’re trying to gain the most influence in a forest as woodland creatures; Through the Desert, in which you make chains of camels for points; and Clank! In! Space!, which is a fantastic deckbuilder with an actual map. I’ll be happy to talk about any of these in the comments.