RSL’s Defense Can’t Withstand Impact Attack

Two away goals doesn’t give RSL much-needed 3 points at Montreal
by Chris Enger   |   Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Taylor Fugate Photography

Soccer is such a fickle sport. One day, you feel the jubilation of a come-from-behind victory only to feel the same sort of defeat just days later.

Real Salt Lake suffered from this pattern. After a comeback win against New England during a mid-week match up, the claret-and-cobalt fell, 3-2, to the Montreal Impact, who came back on a pair of occasions to get the win.

The team can all learn from this. Real Salt Lake needs to learn from the experience of losing in the final moments Saturday. Manager Jason Kreis has to understand that it may be OK to keep an attacking midfielder on the field, especially if he’s been the best player on the field. And the defense should learn where gifted opposing strikers are, even if they appear offside.

[Side note: as I have mentioned on the Kingdom of Salt podcast many times, I will never blame a loss on officiating. Calls tend to find ways to balance out as the season progresses. I completed an interesting experiment on Saturday by muting the game during the second half. I found I wasn’t nearly as critical of the officials as those listening to the match play by play. When someone keeps saying, “that’s a bad call,” over the airwaves, chances are fans are going to be swayed by that commentary. Try it next time. You’ll be surprised.]

Sebastian Velasquez has proven that he not only needs to be on the field more, but that he needs to be starting every week. The kid creates chances with his feet that no one on the team does. He may turn the ball over occasionally with his attempts, but when he breaks through it is always worth it.

If Luis Gil and Veasquez are healthy, they need to be starting. Once Velazquez came off the field the dynamic changed. Yes, Real Salt Lake went on to score 7 minutes later, but the midfield wasn’t the same once Velazquez was substituted.

Keep your best player on the field and take off the tired Olmes Garcia to create a 5 midfielder formation, switch Ned Grabavoy for Khari Stephenson or keep the team the same. Once you lose the most creative player on the field, the chances almost stopped for the rest of the match.

Defender Chris Schuler is such a different player when not surrounded by Chris Wingert and Nat Borchers. With Borchers out with the flu again Saturday, Schuler played well, but he had several mistakes that could have cost RSL even more goals.

One habit I’m beginning to notice is his constant lunging at players as the opposing player is streaking down the sideline. If – and it was when several times on Saturday – Schuler misses that lunge, the opposing player has a free trip to the penalty box.

Yes, Marco Di Vaio was offside when he scored, but the defense needs to know where he is at all times and when you lose him, he will make you pay.

It's frustrating that for that final Impact goal, 3 RSL players had attempts to clear the ball and all of them whiffed on the try. Ned missed on a dive to head it out, Olmes Garcia left eventual goal scorer Matteo Ferarri to try and clear it and missed it. It was just a terrible late goal to give up.

Hopefully RSL learns from this mistake and it helps Salt Lake during the rest of the season.

NEXT UP: May 19 - Real Salt Lake vs. Chivas USA, Home Depot Center, Los Angeles. 10:30 p.m. EST, MLS Live.

KOS PODCAST: Be sure to listen & subscribe to Chris & Brandon Fleming’s new SN podcast Kingdom of Salt, every week!


Univ. of Utah
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KoS & SN Podcast co-host & self-proclaimed funniest man in Utah. Mormon by faith, Ute by geography, Gooner by accident & proud RSLer. Father of 4, husband of 1, brother of many. Bilingual by day, quasi superhero en la noche. There's only one "Fuegote".