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Six losers, two winners from RSL’s 3-1 loss to LAFC

It was a night to forget for Real Salt Lake — a feeling that’s become all too common.

Los Angeles FC v Real Salt Lake Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

Loser: Erik Holt

It is clear at this point that Erik Holt is not an MLS-caliber player. He can be reckless (though he was not particularly tonight), he is bad one-on-one, and he is slow. These factors combine into making him a very poor choice for Real Salt Lake at the back.

Now, it sounds like Nedum Onuoha was injured with a hamstring strain, and we know Justen Glad was out with yellow card accumulation. I guess you can’t plan around that. Still, it is clear that he’s not good enough, and it’s also clear that we probably don’t have a better option. Maybe we should put Nick Besler back there next time we need an option.

Winner: Pablo Ruiz

It is not unusual that Ruiz makes the winner column on this here website, but once again, Ruiz was a bright spot in a dim match. He was given a terrible job — in the second half, I’d argue he was basically the only midfielder as Kreilach pushed up a bit into the attack — but he coped well enough. Despite being left on an island, he remained involved, he kept play moving, and he was very good from set pieces.

Loser: Douglas Martinez

The first half saw Martinez make some great runs after RSL won the ball. It, however, did not see anything approach good finishing or a lethal touch. He was often let down by his first touch, and especially before RSL went down 2-0, a bit more tactical awareness from him could have changed the game in a more positive way.

It must also be said that he had a pair of very, very nice crosses in to Sam Johnson, who he actually seems to play quite well with. That’s an interesting thought, isn’t it? I dunno. Start Sam.

Loser: Corey Baird

Corey Baird is not a playmaker. He should not be playing in that position. (I don’t mind trying him out there, all told.) Also, somebody needs to take Baird to some sort of finishing school. Not that old, antiquated, sexist thing. The one where he learns to keep his shots on target.

Winner: Aaron Herrera

It’s the usual story. Aaron Herrera is playing at a high level right now. Long may that be the case, and I hope his teammates eventually catch up to him.

Losers: Justin Portillo, Kyle Beckerman and Nick Besler

Real Salt Lake was overrun in the midfield. I will share a screenshot from the match to illustrate.

RSL is in possession here. Pablo Ruiz is completely alone. RSL has just one safe pass and one risky pass. We are well and truly outnumbered in our midfield, and sure, we have players in wide positions, but we’ve got some pressure that’s cutting off longer options.

We have three defensive midfielders on the bench who aren’t seeing time. I don’t care which of them plays, but against a team like LAFC that will choke out your play in the middle, any of those are probably good options.

This is important because we’ve shaped ourselves as a possession team. It has been what has brought us the most success. We are not a team that can thrive without a strong midfield. Albert Rusnak, while nominally a creative midfielder, is mostly a possession player at this point, and we replaced him with Corey Baird, who is anything but.

Further: RSL players are clearly exhausted at this point. The schedule has been hard on everyone. We have almost refused to rotate. While I do know things can certainly get worse, at this point, a loss is a loss. Let’s give people minutes.