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Year-Over-Year: Defense starting on the road (1)

How true is the RSL mantra of improvement every year?

MLS: MLS Cup Conference Semifinals-Real Salt Lake at Seattle Sounders FC Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Year-over-year is a frequently used comparison in the financial world where the performance of the previous year is compared to the current year in an attempt to see how performance has changed.

This series of articles has adopted that phrase for our own use as we attempt to see just how the 2020 version of RSL compares to the 2019 version.

Outwardly, much has changed in the past year, as Elliot Fall has replaced Craig Waibel as general manager, and Freddy Juarez has replaced Mike Petke as head coach.

Nick Rimando, Jefferson Savarino, Sebastian Saucedo, Joao Plata and Brooks Lennon, among others, have left the team. Jeizon Ramirez, Giuseppe Rossi, Alvin Jones, Ashtone Morgan, Milan Iloski and Christopher Garcia have signed with the team.

Are the top starters within the squad playing better in 2020 than they did in 2019? As a team plagued with frequent soft tissue injuries, has the depth off the bench improved in 2020 over the depth in 2019? Are the youngsters signed by RSL as the future of the team receiving playing time and stepping up when needed? These are the question we will examine.

Defensive midfield

Defensive midfield, or the ‘2’ area in a 4-2-3-1 lineup, has remained fairly stable over the past two years. Kyle Beckerman did not retire, while Everton Luiz, Nick Besler and Justin Portillo also returned for the 2020 season.

In the 2019 opener against Houston Dynamo, Beckerman and Everton started in these two postions. Due to injury and suspension, Besler and Portillo started against Orlando in 2020. Each of these matches was the first of the season and on the road in essentially defensive struggles. Each ended with a draw and one point taken back home by RSL. This gives us a good opportunity to see just what our depth chart for this position looks like and what each of these four players bring to the table.

Heat Maps

Here are the single game heat charts for each of the four players in these two games. Please vote on which you think represents each player. Please note that the white arrow at the top represents the direction that RSL was attacking forward.

Heat Map A
SofaScore.com
Heat Map B
SofaScore.com
Heat Map C
SofaScore.com
Heat Map D
SofaScore.com

What type of positioning do you want to see from the RSL defensive midfield? Please rank each of these heat maps in an order representing that player’s rank in your own personal depth chart.

Poll

Which player would be #1 on your depth chart?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Heat Chart A
    (3 votes)
  • 23%
    Heat Chart B
    (6 votes)
  • 57%
    Heat Chart C
    (15 votes)
  • 7%
    Heat Chart D
    (2 votes)
26 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which player would be #2 on your depth chart?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Heat Chart A
    (4 votes)
  • 42%
    Heat Chart B
    (11 votes)
  • 23%
    Heat Chart C
    (6 votes)
  • 19%
    Heat Chart D
    (5 votes)
26 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which player would be #3 on your depth chart?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Heat Chart A
    (7 votes)
  • 24%
    Heat Chart B
    (6 votes)
  • 4%
    Heat Chart C
    (1 vote)
  • 44%
    Heat Chart D
    (11 votes)
25 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which player would be #4 on your depth chart?

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    Heat Chart A
    (14 votes)
  • 15%
    Heat Chart B
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Heat Chart C
    (0 votes)
  • 30%
    Heat Chart D
    (8 votes)
26 votes total Vote Now

This poll will close at 12 Noon Mountain Daylight Time on Wednesday, April 15. At that time we will post the individual stats of the four players from these two matches in a similar blind fashion. This will give you an opportunity to see if those stats cause you to change your personal depth chart from that set by looking at the heat maps.