Real Salt Lake settle for a 3-3 draw vs New England in Tucson

So Let me start this by explaining that while I understand there were huge issues with the online stream of this match, first know that had nothing to do with the RSL front office or media team they were not in charge of any of the technical side of the feed.  Second know issues were had on the feed of the Colorado match as well, and there was no feed of the SKC vs Crew match. Finally for all of you who watched the second half via my periscope, thanks that was kinda fun.  If you want to check that out, it is here.

I expect the lineup we saw in this match is what the team is expecting to go with in the first leg of the CCL series with Tigres:

Rimando, Beltran, Olave, Maund, Phillips, Beckerman, Sunny, Morales, Plata, Movsisyan, Martinez

That is depending on injuries, based on what I saw last night both Luke Mulholland and Chris Wingert on the bench in non-uniform outfits and neither took part in warmups.  I expect we will see a much more second team based lineup on Saturday knowing that the team will then travel to Monterrey in front of their match next Wednesday.

So the Revolution came out with their foot on the gas pedal and while RSL didn’t give up a goal in the first couple of minutes, we did go down 1-0 in the 13th minute on a goal from Michael Gamble, the Revs 2nd round draft pick. The rest of the first half was rather uneventful as neither side really looked overly impressive.  However, a couple of things that stuck out to me, first the positive one, over the years one of the telling signs of the difference between elite players and others is their first touch.  When I watch the EPL or La Liga most passes are completed with the player getting the ball being able to bring it down or gather it in and move based on a single touch, in watching our new midfielder Sunny Obayan I was very impressed with his first touch on the ball.

The second may just be me, but I was always impressed with how well RSL kept their shape in the diamond 4-4-2, so while the 4-3-3 is more supposed to be more dynamic and allow for more freedom, to me it just seems chaotic most of the time with our defenders often pushing too far forward and opening space behind them, and with our midfielders all over the place, switching sides or chasing the ball.  Last night the first half looked messy from my vantage point, and I don’t think RSL is at their best when things are messy and frantic.

Now the second half is where things got interesting, first was the mass subsitution by New England as they did a complete swap of their team to a lineup that included a mix of expected starters and bench guys. As I was setting up my phone to do the periscope that fans requested, I saw a quick break to the south end of the field, then I heard a cheer, a whistle and then saw a red card. As I go back and watch the highlights it all makes sense, Charlie Davies, who looks really good and quick, made a run that brought out Rimando who went to ground a bit early and left Aaron Maund on the goal line as Davies took a shot, a hand ball call and out comes the red card and down to 10 men goes RSL.  This is the point when many fans get frustrated and give up, for me I have been amazed how well RSL often plays after going down a man, and how often it leads to a decent result.

So Davies steps up finishes the PK and the Revs are up 2-0, but then the additional space or unseen motivational factor kicks in and RSL start to fight back harder than at any other time in the match. So a great run by Yura Movsisyan on a long ball ended with him on the ground in a ball after what looked like a foul in the box, but no whistle for RSL, just a minute or so later RSL players cried for a handball call but no whistle (it was incidental at best), but then a great run by Joal Plata into the area is broken up by a foul and the third time was the charm as the whistle was blown and a PK issued. Javi finished off the PK to cut the Rev’s lead to 2-1 in the 54th minute.

For the vast majority of the second half it was RSL with their foot on the gas pedal and a lot of playing a high line and applying a lot of pressure, to be honest this is what I expected from our 4-3-3 or in this case 4-2-3 as we had brought in Justen Glad for Sunny to replace Maund who had been sent off for the handball in the area.  If RSL can play like we did in the second half then I think RSL fans will be excited, speaking of which RSL’s second goal was a result of that high line as a great ball into the area by Javier Morales found the head of Jamison Olave who put it past the keeper to level the score at 2-2 in the 68th minute.

RSL made their second sub of the night in the 69th minute as Olmes Garcia came in for Yura Movsisyan in move that we probably will see a lot of this season and it made an immediate impact.  The tempo seemed to change a bit as the trio of Morales, Plata and Olmes really seemed to click and put a lot of pressure on the Revs, in the 77th minute it was a ball that had bounced around the area a bit that was placed on a platter for Olmes by Justen Glad and Olmes finished it nicely to give RSL a 3-2 lead despite all 3 goals coming as the side was down a man.  I thought last year that Olmes really struggled a lot to figure out what his role was in the new formation and if the 20 minutes or so of action from last night are anything he doesn’t seem to have those issues anymore.

So speaking of teams doing better when they are down a man, it was time for the Revolution to prove that point, in the 83rd minute they went down a man as London Woodberry picked up two very quick yellow cards and was sent off and then within a minute it was a ball turned over in a bad area by Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales that left Charlie Davies one on one with the keeper and he was too good to miss that chance and he leveled the score at 3-3. RSL probably should have had another PK in the closing minutes as a run by Tony Beltran was broken up on the edge of the area, looking at the replay it easily could have and probably should have been called for being inside and a PK issued. Instead the free kick was given just outside of the area and Javi put a great ball in but Burrito’s header was just a few inches over the crossbar and the end result was a 3-3 draw.

So my thoughts are really simple, the first half looked a lot like last season as RSL struggled with possession and purpose, everything seemed chaotic and reactive. The second half RSL looked like a team with a mission, they took charge of the pace of the match, looked very dangerous and despite being down a man were the much better side. I was impressed with the speed of Yura who had a couple of great runs (including one that should have been a PK), I think we are still a few matches away from seeing the rhythm established between the midfield and the trio up top of Joao, Burrito and Yura but they looked much better in the second half.  RSL has to find a way to get better on the defensive side, Nick was “left out to dry” several times and that can’t happen or we will end up playing from behind way too much.  Had it not been for a very flukish turnover by Beckerman/Morales RSL likely pulls out a 3-2 win despite being down 2-0 and down a man.

That’s How I See It

 

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