Real Salt Lake weren't at their best in their against FC Dallas, but we can suss out some of the reasons why that was the case.
1. The midfield didn’t push into the attack quickly
Too many times, we saw one or both of Luke Mulholland and Ned Grabavoy in deep positions when we were in the attack. This left four or five players — the two strikers, Javier Morales, and one midfielder and sometimes a fullback on that side — with the attacking impetus.
There were simply too many times on the break when Mulholland, Grabavoy, Wingert and Beltran played in safe positions waiting for Cole Grossman to pick somebody out from his central position.
When we finally did start committing more in the attack, Dallas was committed to a draw, and it just didn’t do much for us. We’d lost our shot to grab a goal through the run of play, by and large.
2. We let FC Dallas dictate our defensive approach for most of the match
Perhaps as a mechanism for maintaining a strong stance against an FC Dallas team with some genuine speed, we often had one or both of our fullbacks hanging in more defensive positions.
We becomes focused on recovery and dealing with the speed of Fabian Castillo — this gutted our ability to push further into attack.
How do you deal with this? It’s hard to say. Borchers and Schuler are a good pairing, and they were both very good on the night. But neither is going to match Castillo in a foot race, so we kept Beltran or Wingert back. This helped, but it hurt in equal measure. Should we have taken more risk in this way? It’s difficult to say, but it doe work to explain our approach a bit.
3. FC Dallas adjusted to the Robbie Findley substitution expertly
When we brought in Robbie Findley, FC Dallas dropped their defensive line and their midfield. This killed their attacking movement, but it was the perfect foil to our play.
Robbie Findley still provoked dangerous moments, and it wasn’t as if the substitution was wasted. But whether his arrival in the second half coincided with a shift in focus or was the cause of it, the game becomes more difficult for Real Salt Lake.
By not pushing forward earlier, Dallas was left in a position where they were given the option to stay safe.
4. We opted for hopeful long shots
With FC Dallas defensively static, and with our midfield deeper than usual in the attack, we found options passing into the box lacking. Rather than getting more players into the attack and stretching the defense, we tended to just take a hopeful, low-probability long shot. None of them came particularly close to working.
There were solutions to this, but we lacked the patience necessary to execute.