Real Salt Lake is unlikely to make the playoffs this year, there simply have been too many losses overall and too few wins at home, with 10 matches remaining they would likely need to double their points per match from 1.08 to better than 2 per match to even have a realistic chance and to me that is simply unlikely.
If there is anything close to a silver lining to the remainder of the RSL season it is that their schedule is soft as 6 of our remaining opponents are below the redline and unlikely to make the playoffs as well. That starts with a trip to face off with the worst team in MLS, at least statistically, DC United. DC is one of just two teams with more losses than RSL, one of the two teams with a worse goal differential than RSL, and one of just two teams with fewer home wins than RSL. If there was a road match made to pick up 3 points in it would be this one, DC has just 3 wins in their 11 home matches, have scored just 8 goals at home while allowing 15.
I have watched about a combined 60 minutes of DC United matches this season and none of it has looked good, for DC fans the only thing that comes close to a positive is that they finally see a light at the end of the RFK tunnel. They are not a very good team but they did sign a few folks in the transfer window but it is unsure if the additions of Paul Arriola, Bruno Miranda, Russell Canouse or Zoltan Stieber will be ready for action on Saturday but they clearly were the most active team looking to salvage some self respect this season and start building the squad that will open that new stadium next year.
RSL’s move to bring in Marcelo Silva was the only real transfer window move, and while many probably expected more moves from the team, I didn’t. RSL has the pieces to be successful, now with most starters healthy and ready to go the team has looked better on the pitch then at any other time all season. Now they need to get wins, if you can’t beat the top teams like SKC and Houston at home, then you damn sure better beat up on teams like DC United & Montreal even if you are on the road.
For me the biggest question remains how does Petke deal with the Yura vs Luis drama? I get it Luis is a different kind of player, he adds a new dynamic to the RSL attack, but I also get that he isn’t anything close to a consistent goal scorer. Yura has a big ego, few top strikers in any league don’t have a big ego and while I am not sure what started the spat with Mike Petke, it has to end. It was funny to hear so many online rant against him missing his one chance in 12 minutes of action, but glance over the other 20 shots taken by others that resulted in not a single shot on goal. Yup, Yura is clearly the problem.
Playing well is fun, not winning matches isn’t. RSL needs to score goals and the harsh reality is winning ugly is always better than a pretty loss or draw. RSL will have a chance to punish a team they have never beaten on the road, but to do so they will need to score goals, where will they come from? Joao Plata has been a burst of energy the last 6-7 weeks of the season, showing the edge that made him a fan favorite, but his inability to even try shots with his left foot leave defenders empowered to simply cut down angles on him. Luis Silva has scored a goal, yup a goal, if he wants to be that starting forward he is going to have to do better than that. The bright spots are still newcomers Albert Rusnak (5 goals, 7 assists) and Jefferson Savarino (3 goals, 3 assists), we need more of them taking chances and putting shots on goal. I remember back when RSL had a nasty habit of passing the ball to death while looking for the perfect shot and the result was often defensive players being able to recover and get in position before a quality shot was taken. Yeah Houston played a very defensive formation and style last week, but RSL did little to prove they could break such an effort down.
Without knowing which, if any, of DC’s new signings might see action it is a bit tough to predict what might happen, but the reality is they don’t score many goals, just 19 all season, the lowest total in all of MLS. The recent signing of Deshorn Brown who RSL fans will remember from his Rapids days, could indicate they may just play long balls over the top and hope guys run onto them or defenders make mistakes. Not a style that leads to exciting matches but desperation will call for desperate actions. If RSL simply play within themselves and find a way to finish a couple of their chances they should walk away with a much needed 3 points. I am going for a 2-1 RSL win in this one, but as we have seen all season anything can happen.
That’s How I See It