Real Salt Lake embarrassed 5-0 at San Jose

Awful.  No excuses.  Nothing more to say.

RSL vs PDX

Real gets back on track with a 3-0 trouncing of the Timbers

RSL vs SEA 7/4/12

Real ends their losing skid with a scoreless draw

Expectations bringing RSL down?

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Photo Credit:  Taylor Fugate (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)

Jason Kreis said it himself, when the stakes are high and everyone’s watching Real Salt Lake seems to fumble and fall.

Humor me as I check out some of the statistics.  Real Salt Lake is dominant at Rio Tinto.  They always have been until lately.  But look at the games in front of record crowds:  Attendance of 20,382 two weeks ago against LA, 3-2 loss;  Attendance of 20,415 against Chivas USA earlier this season, 1-0 loss;  Attendance of 20,463 against Cruz Azul in a very neutral atmosphere with plenty of fans for the Mexican side, 3-1 win;  Attendance of 20,507 in the 2011 season opening victory against the Galaxy, 4-1 win;  Attendance of 20,738 for the CONCACAF Champions League final against Monterrey, 1-0 loss;  Attendance of 20,762 at the game in which Javi made his return at the end of the 2011 season, 3-0 loss.  What can be said of that?  Four losses out of the six most popular games?  From the team’s view it’s pretty bad.  From the club’s standpoint, it’s awful.  Winning in front of big crowds is what gets you a lot more fans a lot faster.

So why does this happen?

It’s hard to point a finger at one thing in particular.  But if you were to choose the biggest reasons behind Real’s stage fright, you’d have to look at overconfidence and frustration.

Real aren’t a cocky team.  They don’t go around getting themselves in the press for saying things they shouldn’t or talking bad on others or blaming poor games on anything but themselves.  But when Real is playing well and forget to check themselves, they sometimes drop a few bad ones.  Look at the Chivas USA game played at the RioT earlier this season.  Real was coming off of an unseen spectacular start to their season and were coming home heroes.  I don’t think their minds were too worried about a measly Chivas side that had struggled to start off the season.  They played a strange game.  Real Salt Lake was going through the motions, made a mistake, went down a goal and never recovered.

Frustration has been a killer against Real Salt Lake similar to the way it plays against the Men’s US National Team.  They’re cruising along and come to a game in which the world seems to combine against them.  They let in silly goals, and they cannot score for the life of them.  While RSL’s frustration hasn’t reached to the level of the USMNT before the Jurgen Klinsmann era it’s still a major factor.  Take a look at the CCL finale against Monterrey in which Fabian Espindola rushed himself a bit as he squandered an early chance and wasn’t able to play to his full potential for the rest of the game.

So what can you expect from a Real Salt Lake squad on a three game losing skid?  A rebound.

There won’t be as many fans packed into Rio Tinto Stadium, the expectations will be lowered.  Real will be taking on a Seattle squad that has been struggling tremendously as of late.  It puts RSL in a prime position to overcome their opposition and really throw things back together!

GO REAL SALT LAKE!!!

What’s going wrong for RSL?

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Photo Credit:  Taylor Fugate (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)

It’s time to point fingers.  It’s time to figure out exactly what’s going wrong for our troubled Real Salt Lake. After losing three straight matches at home in all competitions, what can fans expect?  Real seems to have fallen into a very unpredictable funk.  Look at their last four games: 1-3 loss to MN Stars, 3-0 smashing at Chivas, 3-2 giveaway to LA, 1-2 drop to San Jose.  Honestly, I can compare our play to that of an expansion team.  We’re losing frequently, disappointing fans, having random confidence boosts with unpredictable victories.

Fortunately, it hasn’t been this way all season, but signs have been hinting in this direction for quite some time.  Real has a lot more inexperienced players this season and that may have influence over the naivety of the club’s on-field performance.  But that isn’t all.  Here’s my list of what’s going on.

The team is not playing defense as a team.  

One of the biggest parts of the RSL Way is that EVERYONE plays defense.  It starts with the forwards and ends with Nick Rimando between the uprights.  At the beginning of the season, this really wasn’t an issue, but as confidence has grown players don’t feel the urgent need to get back on the defensive side of the ball.  Forwards haven’t been doing awful, in fact, they’ve been pressuring the opponent’s back line quite well as of late.  I believe the issue in defending can be found in our midfield and outside back positions.  The outside backs have been encouraged to attack up the flanks and for a good reason, thanks to them the claret and cobalt have created several goals.  But they need to track back more than any other player on the whole team.  Throughout the last several matches, there have been gaping holes on the wings that the opposition have exploited on the counter-attack.  Look at the last two goals Los Angelas put in on us! It seemed like it was the Galaxy counter against our lonesome centerbacks!  The rest of the members of the RSL squad got caught watching the turn of events from midfield.

Nick Rimando is playing slightly tentative.

Yes, I know.  It’s surprising isn’t it?  I’ve never seen Nick come out so hesitant in a game.  Against San Jose, he and Nat Borchers miscommunicated which caused Rimando to stutter his approach to the ball and consequentially get caught in no-man’s-land between the ball and the open net.  Then you’ve got the goal the Galaxy scored in which Rimando came sprinting off his line way early and was beat quite easily by the LA attacker on the edge of the box.  This is almost definitely just a stutter in his usually good form.  Let’s hope it gets fixed sooner rather than later.

High expectations are overwhelming for RSL.

Real Salt Lake has quite a history of being overwhelmed by high expectations.  It seems that every time the stadium is at capacity, the team falls apart on the pitch.  You’ve got the CCL final last season that RSL dropped at home, then you have the situation in which Real is cruising at the top of the standings, more and more fans are attending matches, and they choke at the RioT, in front of everyone.  It’s a sad statistic for any fan.  The world’s best teams can win games on the big stage with big expectations on the line.

There is no confidence booster.

This is an interesting one.  It really hasn’t been an issue until lately.  A good example of it was the LA game.  Real was up 2-0 and cruising.  I for one expected RSL to hand the Galaxy a beating for the second year in a row at Rio Tinto.  The Tony Beltran made a mistake that handed LA a goal.  No big deal.  It was a fluke and Real still had a goal advantage.  Then LA took advantage of another mistake.  This time, the heads of every RSL player hung in disappointment and shock.  They didn’t pump themselves up and look to go for goal.  The level of their play consequently fell and Los Angelas found the back of the net completing the come-from-behind upset.  Real need to rediscover the fire in their eye that was present in games earlier this season against Portland and Toronto FC where they were able to pull out big time results with the odds stacked against them.

So there you have it.  This has been my bleak analysis on Real Salt Lake’s form.  Up next is how RSL and its fans alike are going to find a way out of the current situation.

WE BELIEVE IN RSL!!!

RSL vs SJ

Real drops another big match at home to the Earthquakes

RSL vs LA 6/21/12

RSL drops a two goal lead in loss to LA

Preview: RSL prepares for major tilt against LA

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Photo Credit:  smackdowntay (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)

I’m back again after a week long vacation and I’ve come with a bad case of RSL fever!  Real completed probably its best full performance of the season last week with an incredibly solid 3-0 win against Chivas USA on the road.  Real has had bigger wins in bigger games, but that was the most complete for sure.  Salt Lake dominated possession and scoring opportunities and kept a clean sheet.  Now how does one build on that?

Real Salt Lake have a chance to really dominate tonight with a full-strength squad if they can string together a complete performance with 90 minutes of soccer the RSL Way.  The stars are starting to realign in Real’s favor as big players are making their way back from surgery and other players are really getting their game on.

Will Johnson is an epic example of a player priming at the right time.  His fantastic work rate has really shown throughout all 90 minutes of the last several games and it was really nice to see him cap off his outstanding showing against Chivas with a well deserved first goal of the season.  Will is no doubt one of the scrappiest players in the league if not the scrappiest.  His work rate is outstanding.  He will chase every ball down the field and throw his body in the way of the ball and opponents in order to shut down a cross or impede on an opponent’s progress down the flanks.

Another player priming right now is forward Alvaro Saborio.  The guys been scoring a lot lately and it was disappointing to see his ONSIDES goal called off during Real’s last game.  The guy just scored a hat-trick for Costa Rica against Guyana a few weeks ago.  His ability to make perfect runs through the center of the box has been on show lately and hopefully will continue tonight against the Galaxy.

Returning we have Javi Morales.  Javier’s been an interesting player this season.  I believe he’s yet to last an entire match.  However, his presence if nothing else is a big confidence booster.  He made an immediate impact earlier this season in Los Angelas when he came into the game and scored a goal with one of his first touches.  Since then though it seems as if he’s been holding back.  Tonight’s as good a night as any to have a standout performance.  The RioT’s already been sold out for about a week.  Hopefully Javi can have the kind of game he had against LA last year at home.  He created the first three goals en route to a convincing 4-1 smashing.  He’s set to start tonight!  May the force be with him.

Now you’ve got our much hated opponent, the LA Galaxy.  Their season has been terrible so far.  They struggle defensively.  Our fans hate them.  Our players seem to play very well against them.  So what’s to fear?  First off, the Galaxy just got their first win in a LONG time against the Portland Timbers.  They’re feeling pretty good about themselves at the moment.  Also, LA doesn’t like Real Salt Lake at all.  The two have become bitter rivals since the 2009 MLS Cup final that Real eventually won in a penalty shoot-out.

That’s all for the preview folks!  Enjoy the game!

LET’S GO RSL!!!

RSL vs CHV

Real rolls out a dominating 3-0 road victory thanks to a Fabian Espindola brace.