Real Salt Lake visited the Chicago Fire Saturday and came from behind to win 3-2. Here are 10 tidbits I picked up from the match.
1. A Come From Behind Win
Before this match, Real Salt Lake had not spent much time this season trailing its opponents. It hadn’t trailed in the second half of a match at all. But Salt Lake went down two early goals in this match. When it happened, my immediate thought was… “We’re about to learn a lot about this team.”
Give them credit. They continued to attack. That culminated in things finally breaking through in the second half and a brilliant come-from-behind win for Salt Lake. I’m less concerned with the result than with how they continued to fight, how Jeff Cassar went all out for the win, and how they consistently created chances. The three points are nice, but the way the Claret and Cobalt played will endure.
2. Narrative Flips
Last week I wrote about how Real Salt Lake giving up late leads had become a troubling storyline to start the season. That appeared to work in the squad’s favor in this one, as RSL clearly believed they could come back.
“Every weekend there’s something that happens and last week, it happened to us where we were up two-zero in the 82nd minute,” captain Kyle Beckerman said. “I think that was what our feeling was. Look just what happened last week. Why not, why can’t we do it the other way around this week?”
3. Plata Scores Again
Joao Plata was magnificent in this one. He scored twice, including the game winner. He threatened on other occasions as well. He contributed on the defensive end as well.
“[Plata’s] energy on both sides of the ball is what’s really fantastic,” coach Jeff Cassar said. “He’s always energetic on the offensive end but I was really pleased with how he was holding up the ball and tracking and defending. He ended up playing the left side of our midfield at the end of the game. He’s doing everything right now.”
Plata is quickly cementing his spot in the starting lineup, as long as he stays healthy.
4. Alvaro Saborio
Plata wasn’t the only RSL forward to have a good match. Saborio scored the equalizer and then assisted on the winner in this one. The Costa Rican has looked fantastic these last two weeks in the run-up to the World Cup. Hopefully he’ll come back from Brazil looking this good.
5. Unbeaten Streak
Real Salt Lake extended its unbeaten streak to nine matches this season and 13 regular season matches dating back to last September. RSL has started the season on fire despite playing a brutal opening stretch. That’s a good sign and sets the Claret and Cobalt up to contend for the Supporter’s Shield this fall if they can continue at a reasonable pace through the World Cup.
6. Anatomy of a Goal Conceded
RSL gave up two goals in this one. Both were good plays from the Fire and neither were the howlers that the side gave up last week. Still, two goals is two too many, so let’s break them down.
The first goal came when Nick Rimando’s diving save of a Harry Shipp shot left a rebound right in front of the net. Mike Magee timed a run at the net perfectly, pounced on the ball, and finished it.
This goal is a good play by Chicago and even better play from Magee. Still, it could have been stopped if a Salt Lake player (probably Beckerman) was in better position to close down Shipp, if Rimando punched the ball away, or if Nat Borchers followed Magee rather than watching the shot. I’m inclined to put this one mostly on Borchers as Rimando did a great job just to save the first shot. However, it is really on the Salt Lake defense as a whole for allowing such a good first shot from Shipp.
The second goal started when Tony Beltran came forward to challenge Jeff Larentowicz. The Ginger Ninja cut both Beltran and Beckerman out of the play with a nice pass to Benji Joya. Joya found Greg Cochrane on the wing, and Cochrane’s cross was finished by Juan Luis Anangono.
When the cross was first sent, Chicago had two initial runners into the box. Nat Borchers had charged out at the cross, leaving Chris Schuler to cover Mike Magee and Chris Wingert to check Patrick Nyarko. Anangono came into the box late, and Beckerman cut off his recovery run, presumably thinking that Wingert had the Chicago DP. That miscommunication proved to be costly.
This was a great play by Chicago, and the Fire deserve most of the credit for the score. Beckerman needed to do a better job following Anangono and Beltran needed to recover in a way where he could influence the play. Neither did so and Salt Lake gave up a second goal for the evening.
7. Consistently Creating Chances
While the box score doesn’t indicate it, Real Salt Lake managed to threaten throughout this match. In fact, the stats show a match which Salt Lake dominated. The visitors attempted nearly twice as many passes as Chicago, outdid the home squad in shots on target and total shots attempted, and were far more accurate with passes (both overall and in the attacking area).
Some of that is due to Chicago bunkering, but Salt Lake won the possession battle in the first half as well. On the whole, this seemed like a fair result and bodes well for Salt Lake moving forward.
8. Interesting Attacking Subs
This match had two interesting subs. First, Cassar pulled Chris Wingert for Abdoulie Mansally. Brian Dunseth labeled this an attacking move. It does add more attack, but it was a different way to go about it. Then Cassar pulled Nat Borchers to put in Olmes Garcia.
Just looking at the result, these risky plays worked. I suspect Cassar will try them again.
9. Rimando Shutout Record Watch
With a clean sheet Saturday, Nick Rimando would have tied Kevin Hartman for the all-time MLS record for most shutouts (112). Unfortunately, that record will have to wait at least one more week.
Obviously, you’ll be hearing about the record again when he breaks it in a week or two. This won’t be the only record Rimando breaks either. He is on pace to break most of the league’s all-time goalkeeping records before he’s done.
10. Gil Out Injured
After making the 18 two weeks ago, Luis Gil was again left out of the lineup with a hamstring injury. He might not make the 30 man pre-World Cup camp at this point as he won’t even be 90 minutes fit by that time.
Category: Five Thoughts