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Points of Obvious Refinement: RSL vs. Nashville SC

Coming off a loss, what does RSL need to improve?

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Real Salt Lake Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake is coming off their first loss of the 2021 season, and it was at home...and totally avoidable. But we are going to be reliving that goal for a long time... So, what are the obvious points of refinement? Let’s break it down:

Defense

COVER THE ALL-TIME LEADING MLS GOAL SCORER...and after the first goal, let’s repeat: COVER THE ALL-TIME LEADING MLS GOAL SCORER...nope? Well, first things first, RSL has to do better on defense. There were some bright spots (not looking at you Holt...) but overall, the first point of obvious refinement is to make sure the defense is flexible and communicating, and goodness sakes, cover the most dangerous player on the pitch.

Now, RSL will most likely be without Marcelo Silva. So, who starts at center along side Justin Glad? Do we think that Erik Holt will start again after the awful showing last Friday night? This will be a test for the defense that is very thin in the middle. Does Nick Besler get the nod? We shall see if the adjustment can be made.

O Captain, My Captain...

Well...where is Rusnak? No assists...5 shots but only one on frame and no goals...and he is almost 1 million more per season than the next highest player. He did not fire up the team the way that Beckerman would have in the second half...and while the team did win two matches with him as captain, it is time for him to step up and really take the reigns of the team. He looked a little more hungry against San Jose, and seemed to actually hustle on defense and that will be what the team needs more of moving forward. Beckerman knew when to lost just enough control to fire up the team, and I get it, not easy to fill Beckerman’s boots, but for the price tag, Rusnak has to be involved and fueling the team. He cannot go silent or disappear for large stretches of the match.

Back of the Net

Last but not least, RSL has to score when they have open chances. Justin Meram has to finish those goals. While Rubin Rubio has been brilliant, more players have to finish. Had Meram finished one or two, or even all three he should have, the team walks away with three points. It is not just him, there were also multiple good looks, and some of that is just San Jose playing some good defense, and making saves. Some was probably just bad luck, but at least one or two of those shots had to go in. You cannot expect to get open looks like that, not finish them, and still win matches. This is an area that if RSL improves on versus Nashville, they should do just fine.

So, will David Ochoa be up for some big saves on Saturday? We might need him to be if we don’t take care of the above three points.