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The Knee Jerk: May 2022

We’re fourth in the Western Conference

MLS: Austin FC at Real Salt Lake Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

RSL’s holding strong in the top 10 on points in MLS with the lowest payroll of all teams right now in 2022. We’re fourth in the Western Conference and sixth in the Supporter’s Shield race; four points from first place, two points from second.

I love this league.

What I’m seeing is a disciplined group playing as a team. We’re fifth lowest in fouls committed. RSL. Fifth lowest in fouls committed. Zero red cards. Ask me a couple of years ago if RSL makes it through 13 games with no red cards and in the bottom fifth of the league in fouls committed and I’d probably have laughed at you. Yet here we are. Disciplined.

The F word: Finishing

The F word has reared its ugly head once again. Finishing. We’re eighth worst in goals scored at fourteen. We’re not conceding a ton at seventeen (thanks again, Castellanos, with nearly a quarter of those), but we’re also not dropping a lot into the net.

Goals are fun, dammit! We love goals. We want to see goals. They’re exciting and energizing and they often mean that we win.

Finishing.

It needs to be better. Scoring chances are there. We play our strange version of ignore-the-midfield soccer, and it’s working.

We’re fourth in offside calls, which makes sense given how we’re playing. Spring the attack with long balls away is going to result in a lot of offside calls. I’m alright with that, but we need more goals from those moments when we get the timing just right and attack without an offside call. If we can figure out finishing, we’re going to continue to power our way through this season.

What’s still missing?

Savarino, I hope.

If we look at the other side of the fouls stat at fouls suffered, RSL has the second least. Remember when Javi was the most fouled player in the league? That was because he was dangerous. All the time dangerous. We don’t have anyone out there who needs to be hacked apart to keep them from destroying the opposition.

I’d say Pablo Ruiz is making a case for himself by taking his play to another new level. It’s fun to watch, and I’m excited to see how he and Savarino link up.

Will Savarino bring out the best in Bobby Wood, Sergio Córdova, and Rubio Rubin? I love that we’re scoring goals across the roster with ten different players ticking a notch, but Wood, Córdova, and Rubin need to step it up. It’s as simple as that. We’re thirteen games in and they have four goals among them (Wood: 2, Córdova: 2, Rubin: 0). Hopefully Savarino will be the key that unlocks the attack.

Who’s the man?

Chang has a shots-on-target percentage (47%) right there with Wood (47%) and Córdova (53%), has one goal, and four assists. In attacking stats, Chang’s the man right now.

Pablo Ruiz is right there with him at one goal (from a PK) and four assists, but with only two shots out of eighteen on target (11%) I’m looking for him to put those rockets in line.

How about Glad and Silva? They’ve got our back line locked down and they’ve scored three goals between them. Glad is easily having his best season, and the maturity level of his play is top notch.

Then there’s Brody and Herrera. What I’d like to see most from them is better accuracy in their crossing. Enable those forwards.

The truth is that I’m having fun this season. We’ve had some downs, but our ups are proving to be exciting, shocking, and unexpected. And really what are we here for if not for fun?