Real Salt Lake lost 4-0 to the Seattle Sounders Saturday. Here are 10 tidbits I picked up from the match:
1. A Big Bath
In the world of finance, some businesses deliberately lower a quarterly result in a move called a “big bath.” Essentially, they take every possible hit in one quarter so that other quarters will appear to be better. The theory is that it is better to have one bad quarter and a few really good ones than to have middling quarters over and over again.
RSL fans will hope this match was the squad’s equivalent of a big bath. It was ugly. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
In a way, RSL coach Jeff Cassar seemed to play it this way from the start. He opted to keep a few key guys out of the lineup as part of normal rotation. That makes sense given the three-match week that was coming up, especially as this was the least favorable of the three.
2. Unbeaten Streak
Real Salt Lake’s unbeaten streak finally came to an end. Salt Lake’s run finished at 12 matches to start this season and 16 matches overall dating back to September 2013. The former ties a league record jointly held by the L.A. Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City (then the Wizards).
“It was a fantastic run that we went on,” coach Jeff Cassar said. “But I’m trying to make sure the team will react the same way I do – we have work to do and it’s on to the next game.”
3. Goal Responsibility
Aaron Maund got beat up pretty badly on Twitter over this one. He was part of each goal that was conceded, but he wasn’t the only one culpable on them.
The first goal came on a poor penalty kick call that should never have happened. Yes, Maund made a mistake in going so hard into Neagle where the Seattle attacker wasn’t in a position to score, but he wasn’t the only one culpable. Jeff Attinella needed to get a better handle on the ball, and Ricardo Salazar needed to blow the play dead when Neagle kicks the ball out of Jeff’s hands. Still, a slight mistake from Maund here allowed the first goal to occur.
The second goal came on a set piece strike that was set up by a Maund foul. No RSL player even bothered to complain on the foul call, so we’ll assume it was correct. That set up a brilliant free kick from Marco Pappa. Initially, it looked to me like Jeff Attinella cheated irresponsibly to the right side of the net. In watching the tape, it is just a remarkable shot. This one is more credit to Pappa than fault to any one player. Maund made a mistake in committing the foul, which allowed it to happen, but nine times out of 10 this free kick comes to nothing. The difference was Pappa.
The third goal came when Abdoulie Mansally was forward attacking and mishit a cross into the Seattle box. That opened up a channel on the left of the Salt Lake defense that Obafemi Martins could exploit. Maund needed to just foul Martins immediately, but he instead tried to keep with the speedy Nigerian. Lamar Neagle took the ball, drove forward and passed to Chad Barrett, but the play was already broken. On the post-game TV interview, Coach Jeff Cassar suggested Maund should have fouled Barrett. We’ll leave it at that.
The final goal came with Abdoulie Mansally cheating forward and Kenny Cooper getting behind him into space. That put Maund in a no man’s land he did little with; however, he didn’t have much of a chance. That allowed Cooper to take an open cross that Martins put away.
4. Carlos and Kwame Get a Chance
From the start of the season, Maund has had a strangle-hold on the third CB spot on the depth chart. Until Saturday, he had performed well enough to keep it. That obviously changed at CenturyLink Field. Carlos Salcedo (the presumed 3rd CB coming into the season) and Kwame Watson-Siriboe (finally recovered from injury) have both been fighting to get back into the first team with minutes. It looks like one of them will get a chance the next time Borchers or Schuler needs to sit. Maund is probably going to drop after a very poor outing.
5. So Does Luis Gil
A few weeks ago Jeff Cassar told us that Luke Mulholland had earned the starting spot. Another poor outing from the Englishman probably calls for a rethink in the shuttling role. Luis Gil has a much higher ceiling than Mulholland and plays better with the other guys around him. He still disappears from matches, but Mulholland’s poor match means Salt Lake’s prodigy probably gets a good chance to win the spot back.
6. Forward Pairing
With Alvaro Saborio and Joao Plata out due to injury, Devon Sandoval and Olmes Garcia got the start at forward. The forward pairing simply wasn’t threatening, nor was it able to get things done. RSL only put one shot on target the entire match. And worse, things didn’t improve when they went down a goal and pressed to get one.
As Saborio is going to be out for a while, Sandoval must learn to play better in the starting XI, no matter who he is paired with. Admittedly, it will be easier with Joao Plata or Robbie Findley, but the Salt Lake attack simply cannot sputter like this if the side wants to win a trophy this year.
7. International Absences
Salt Lake was again without Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, and Saborio. Sabo is now officially an injury absence (see point 10), but RSL will continue to be without these key players for a few more matches. Their absence was pronounced in this one as the back line faltered and the attack never got started. Things might have been different with these three in the lineup, but we’ll never know for sure.
8. Ricardo Salazar
Apparently the squeaky wheel gets the grease. After the Sounders beat reporter wrote a history of the Salazar-Sounders feud, the home side got the benefit of virtually every key call in the match. That’s disappointing for a number of reasons, but Sounders fans can no longer treat Salazar as a boogey-man. To be fair, they never really should have. Other than the penalty kick retake in the US Open Cup Final, I’m not sure they had much of a case to complain in the first place. But who am I to stand in the way of the Sounders victim complex?
9. Schuler’s Day Off
Chris Schuler missed this match as part of normal rotation. The turf at CenturyLink Field made this the ideal match for him to skip, but I expect he’ll play in one or both of next week’s fixtures.
10. Get Well Sabo
This week gave us news that Alvaro Saborio will miss the World Cup with a broken bone in his foot. First of all, we’re all gutted for him to miss his second World Cup. But Salt Lake fans will also miss him for an extra month or two as he heals and gets healthy. The goal will be to get healthy in time for the stretch run and round into form right as the playoffs start. It’s not ideal.
Dear Devon Sandoval,
It’s time to step up. Big time.
Category: Five Thoughts