RSL Not 'Done and Dusted'

3 things need to happen for RSL to regain the lead in the Supporters' Shield race this Saturday
by Whitney OBannon   |   Thursday, September 19, 2013

Kingdom of Salt - column on Real Salt Lake (RSL) & the Salt Lake City Utah soccer scene

Following Real Salt Lake's shell-shocking loss in Seattle last week, Nat Borchers reminded everyone that there are still plenty of reasons to play.

After holding onto the most points and No. 1 spot in MLS for the last 2 months, a loss of that nature surely brought on a flood of emotions for RSL. Disappointment, frustration and possibly even anger to name a few. But despite the result, hopelessness was not an emotion evoked last Saturday.

“Everything is still there for us,” Borchers told the Deseret News. “We now are going to have to go back to work next week, and we still have got some opportunities to get some points. I think if we finish strong we’re going to have an opportunity at that Supporter’s Shield.”

Manager Jason Kreis also reiterated the fact that his team is determined, despite falling behind in the Supporters' Shield race.

“I don’t think it’s done and dusted; it’s far from over yet,“ the coach said.

RSL is not done fighting for three trophies, and the war continues in full force on Saturday. Several things will need to go right in order for Real to reclaim No. 1.

Unfavorable results for Sounders, Red Bulls

Each week there will be teams that need to lose or at the very best tie in order for RSL to stay afloat. This week those teams are the Sounders and Red Bulls.

With a win against San Jose, Real Salt Lake will have 51 points. However, if Seattle beats the Los Angeles Galaxy this coming weekend, it will stay atop the standings with 52 points. If the Red Bulls defeat FC Dallas on Sunday, they will stay dead even with RSL. Therefore the best RSL can do is bring home a win against San Jose and hope for unfavorable results in Seattle and New York.

That last paragraph was a bit of a no brainer, but at least it's out there that RSL fans will need to cheer for the Galaxy this weekend. Despite L.A. playing a couple of doozy games in recent weeks and the possibility of playing without star Landon Donovan, RSL needs the Galaxy to pull one out in Emerald City.

Tactical improvement

Real Salt Lake is known for playing a certain way; it's expected to play a crisp, clean and organized style. Playing with that kind of knife-like precision stems directly from executing tactics, something RSL failed to do against Seattle.

All night long RSL was one step slow and one pass short. A series of connected passes was a rarity. Communication between players was an obvious reoccurring mishap. And even the simplest concepts of defending were missing. These are only a few of the issues Real Salt Lake dealt with last week.

San Jose should prove to be a much less threatening opponent, but if RSL is tactically unsound, the Earthquakes have plenty of talent to capitalize on mistakes.

The Claret and Cobalt desperately need to figure out the troubling transition between the midfield and forwards, as well as accurate passing in the final third. Real Salt Lake will need to make sure the RSL disaster train was a one-hit-wonder. The play individually and collectively last Saturday mustn't define RSL, and certainly cannot linger any longer.

Offensive production

Real Salt Lake is known for the most potent offense in MLS this season. All 5 forwards that have seen 1st-team action in 2013 are dangerous, and the combinations of the different skill sets usually puts teams in defense mode fairly quickly.

This was not the case against Seattle. The Sounders scored early, which in turn put RSL on its heels instead of vice versa. The forwards were ineffective and the midfield consistently failed at serving up accurate passes. Overall, the offense was just not there in RSL's 1st scoreless match in 23 straight games.

After an uncertain beginning to the season with so many question marks at the forward position, RSL has since managed to score a league high 52 goals in 29 games. Alvaro Saborio, who was absent with a calf strain last Saturday, is RSL's leading scorer with 10 goals this season.

RSL will need a little of this goal-scoring magic in order to win this weekend. San Jose typically gives up a large number of goals to top opponents, such as the Galaxy and the Sounders. RSL should hopefully be no exception to this.

It wouldn't hurt if RSL managed to score 3 goals for the RioT this weekend, considering when Real scores 3 or more goals it is 9-1-1 on the season. Regardless though, with San Jose in town Real Salt Lake needs the full 3 points.

NEXT UP: September 21 – Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes, Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah. 9 p.m. EST, CW30, MLS Live.

Whitney OBANNON

Nationality:
USA
College:
University of Utah
Club Domestic:
Real Salt Lake
Club Foreign:
Manchester United
Although a Colorado native, RSL stole Whitney's heart. She played soccer since age 4 and after attending a RSL match, she fell in love with the game all over again. Also writes for Deseret News and is nearly a black belt.
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