In their last 10 games, Real Salt Lake has not won a game in which they conceded a goal — and they’ve done that six times in that period.
Following a conversation with Tom Hackett on Twitter (it’s about 3-5-2s and whatnot), I wanted to get a better sense of how those conceded goals were coming — so I took my lunch to watch highlights of our last 10 matches. Notably, RSL won three matches and drew three, losing four during that period — not a great record, but it could be worse, I suppose.
Here’s my take on what’s been happening, game-by-game.
I’ll let you draw conclusions.
Portland 3-2 RSL, Aug. 7
Portland 1-0 RSL: Toni Datkovic concedes a handball, perhaps a bit unlucky — hardly a tactical thing
Portland 2-0 RSL: The midfielders don’t follow the runs of players into the box, Toni Datkovic steps high to nobody,
Portland 3-1 RSL: Blanco sends in a great cross completely unchallenged from the right wing, with Everton Luiz stood like a statue. Neither Donny Toia nor Toni Datkovic communicate about who’s tracking the run of the player between them — Datkovic is goal-side, Toia is not. Communication makes a difference here.
LA Galaxy 1-0 RSL, Aug. 4
LA Galaxy 1-0 RSL: Nick Besler stops following Efrain Alvarez as he slashes down our left, and Donny Toia switches to the player on the ball — rightly assuming that Besler should have been following Alvarez. Alternatively, Besler may have stopped in attempting to play an offside trap, but if that’s the case, Justen Glad knew basically nothing about it.
RSL 2-2 LA Galaxy, July 21
RSL 2-1 LA Galaxy: Pablo Ruiz loses out on a challenge in the midfield that he should absolutely have done better with, the ball gets out to our right side, and Aaron Herrera is not tight enough to his mark to prevent what is a stunning shot. (Stunning shots are fine and good; blocking them or preventing them before they happen is a better approach.)
LAFC 2-1 RSL, July 17
LAFC 1-0 RSL: LAFC attacks down our right side, and we’ve shifted huge numbers over there — Marcelo Silva is basically in the right-side center back position at this point, Justen Glad stabs at a ball, and we just look silly.
LAFC 2-1 RSL: Anderson Julio has naively abandoned the left wing, leaving no winger there to offer any competition for a cross sent in for Carlos Vela. Donny Toia is strangely on the right side, but that’s not really the cause of this one, although Vela takes a shot from a really difficult angle over David Ochoa’s shoulder. It was extremely naive from RSL, particularly from Julio, who bears a lot of responsibility for the ease of the cross in to Vela. Still, tremendous skill from one of the best strikers in the league.
RSL 0-1 LAFC, July 3
RSL 0-1 LAFC: What doesn’t go wrong here? We’re weak at the top of the box, weak on the left, and we allow a cut-back ball to the top of the box. Pablo Ruiz completely falls apart defensively and fails to track his runner, and we’re made to look very silly.
RSL 1-1 Houston Dynamo, June 26
RSL 1-1 Houston: Maxi Urruti gets the ball at the top of the box for a wicked shot, but how? Let’s rewind. Justen Glad blocks a shot coming from our left, and the ball rebounds out to Joe Corona. He fools Pablo Ruiz with a deft touch over him, sends the ball to RSL’s left, and Urruti makes a run back into contention, nobody’s marked him, and we end the game in a draw.