Eugene Rupinski, Brotherly Game) Real Salt Lake has lost five of their last six and sit next to last in the league table. What happened?
Matt Montgomery, RSL Soapbox) Well, um... I don't know, actually. A lot of things happened. To really figure out where things went wrong, you probably have to go back to 2014. Things were not good then, even though we had a winning season. We kept the squad together, and we survived that way. 2015 hit, and we got bad. 2016 was us improve and then decline significantly. 2017 saw us start poorly, do OK after bringing in Mike Petke, then do poorly again. I think all of these things are connected. We can't easily just separate them.
That being said, injuries have been a bigger concern than that should be. We saw injury after injury disrupt the start to Petke's coaching reign here. It made it difficult to really get a sense for what he wanted to do. I don't want to blame injuries, so I'm blaming the timing of those injuries. A good team can get by with injuries, but a bad team can't be re-coached when literally half the players are missing.
tBG) RSL has scored eleven goals in eleven games, and only the Colorado Rapids and D.C. United have scored fewer goals. Is it something other teams are doing to limit the chances, or are the chances being wasted?
RSLS) Wow! Eleven! That's actually surprising to me. I didn't realize we had that many to this point. There's one thing teams are doing to limit chances, and I hate it: They're scoring early in the match. The latest we've conceded in a while is a 42nd minute goal against Seattle. Before that, we'd conceded in each match since April 22 inside the first 15 minutes, and usually inside the first five. It was messy.
Obviously enough, when you give up a goal inside the first 15 minutes, you're not going to be in a situation to control the match — not really. You might have the ball, but that's about it. It's really not fun, and if you can avoid it, I'd recommend steering clear.
tBG) Kyle Beckerman is suspended for the match due to violent conduct against the Seattle Sounders. What does his absence mean for RSL, and who replaces him?
RSLS) The clear answer for replacement is Stephen Sunday, who is the most like-for-like on the team with Beckerman. But we've seen repeatedly that Sunny's best tactical position is as a ball-winning central midfielder, not as a steady defensive midfielder. That makes it hard for us to have a concrete replacement strategy, because we're forced to either adjust our style or to put players in positions that don't necessarily suit them.P.S. Thanks for beating Colorado. Now we're not always last in the power rankings.
Suspensions: Kyle Beckerman
Injuries: Chad Barrett, David Horst, Jordan Allen
International duty: Danilo Acosta, Justen Glad, Brooks Lennon, Sebastian Saucedo
Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Aaron Maund, Chris Wingert; Stephen Sunny, Luke Mulholland, Omar Holness, Albert Rusnak; Joao Plata, Yura Movsisyan