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The Salt: RSL’s successes against LA, Kreilach’s shooting, and anything but Zlatan

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A good game packed in a loss can be a bitter pill to swallow.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at LA Galaxy Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

So a weird thing happened on Sunday.

We lost — and I felt legitimately good about the game. And that’s happened before, certainly, and it’s happened this season. But this? This felt different. In part, that’s because there are times in the game that I felt pretty lousy about how we played.

Let’s start with the first 15 minutes of the match.

The first 15 minutes of the match

(See, I’m starting with what I said I’d be starting with. I’m trying to practice “organized writing.” Asides are part of that, right?)

Anyway, the first ... yeah, you get it — we were pretty level. Level on touches (114 vs. 110), level on shots (2 vs. 2), and we tended to control the match. We gave up a goal right after this, but honestly, it wasn’t the way we gave it up that was truly concerning. Could we have been better? Absolutely, and we should have. But that’s an incremental-progress thing, and I can’t complain too much.

Minutes 16–45

In this period, we were significantly pretty bad. Rather, the way we were pretty bad was significant. I think. Anyway, a few minor statistics follow:

  • Interceptions: 8 vs. 2
  • Shots: 6 vs. 2
  • Touches: 313 vs. 148
  • Passes: 246 vs. 99

So, yeah. Grimacing emoji, indeed.

Minutes 45–90

So, we were pretty good here, actually. The way we came out of the locker room was significantly better than the way we went into it. It’s no coincidence that we scored during this period.

Some statistics with comments follow.

  • Shots, 3 vs. 18: So, that’s a heckuva lot of shots we’ve put out here. We peppered their goal, and six of those were on target. Should we have scored more than one? I dunno, probably. But we didn’t, so this looks profligate. Were we? Ah, ask me later.
  • Touches, 297 vs. 344: A lot more even than shots and fouls — and that’s interesting.
  • Fouls, 9 vs. 1: So ... I actually think this made a bigger difference, and it’s not about any single foul — especially not from Zlatan Ibrahimovic — but more about a general thematic point. These were generally smart fouls. Take a look.

Look at that — they’re fouling wide, and they’re fouling outside their defensive third. Smart fouls. Good fouls. I don’t like it, but let’s face it — that was probably the best course of action.

Even with those fouls, though, we still had 18 shots. That’s a whole lot. I’m curious where they came from — were they mostly outside the box? Let’s check!

A shot and a goal

but only one goal, not two or three or four, sadly

Of the 22 shots...

  • 17 were from open play
  • 13 were from outside the box
  • 9 were blocked
  • 8 were in the penalty area
  • 7 were on target
  • 6 were off target
  • 7 were from Damir Kreilach alone

Waiiiiit— really?

Yeah, Damir Kreilach took seven shots. That’s fascinating. Five of them were blocked, which, well, tells you something about how we were shooting. I will say that I’m moderately concerned that Albert Rusnak took only one shot, given we’ve seen that he’s fantastic in difficult shooting conditions, but that’s probably neither here nor there.

One other thing I’ve noticed digging in a bit is that Sebastian Saucedo had three key passes as a substitute. It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that he can be an impact player, even if he’s not quite there in his development yet. Close? Yeah, I think so.

Final thoughts

I don’t really have anything else to add. It’s just interesting to look at this game and see a team that pushed in the right areas, and that had a good chance to win. It’s even more interesting for me to see an LA Galaxy team that was playing basically regressive soccer in the second half of the game. They’re 7-1-1, and they’re playing a very defensive game. That probably says as much about us as it says about them.

Off-topic

Hi, it’s been a while since we talked off-topic here. How are you? Are things well? Have you read any good books lately? I’ve been re-watching Breaking Bad, and I do think it holds up — but as a show that sort of changed the face of top-tier TV, it’s clear too how much has changed.

I’ve also been reading more Star Trek books — I’ve finally made it to the Destiny trilogy, which, well, has been a real ride. I’m on book three. Maybe I’ll finish it tonight. I don’t know.

Finally, I’m looking forward to getting back to Rio Tinto potentially twice this week. Is that off-topic? I guess it’s not. Oh well.