Real Salt Lake’s Latest Humiliation Leaves Fanbase Pondering
Mar 26, 2023, 4:31 PM
SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake was humiliated by the MLS newcomers St. Louis City SC who remain the only undefeated club in the league.
Manager Pablo Mastroeni was limited with the players that he had at his disposal due to an extended injury list and an international window. Colombian international Brayan Vera debuted alongside Justen Glad at the center back position while recently drafted full-back Emeka Eneli also debuted at right back.
Concerns For Real Salt Lake
The concerns for Real Salt Lake are severe. The side, albeit depleted, struggled to put passes together in the attacking third. They looked confused with very little chemistry. Simple passes looked difficult, and heavy touches remained frequent.
The final third was bleak. Very few opportunities were created by Real Salt Lake. There is no creativity, there seems to be no motivation or belief.
Mastroeni said it best in his post-game press conference, “if you score the first goal, you have confidence, you have belief and you double down on what you’re doing. If you concede, now you have a little bit of doubt.”
When Real Salt Lake conceded the opening goal of the game against St. Louis in the 47th minute, doubt ran riot across the faces of those wearing the Claret and Cobalt. Arms raised, shoulders slumped, and heads spinning.
Conceding the opening goal of the game clearly took its toll on Real Salt Lake.
Worse yet? Those playing for the crest failed to respond in front of their home fans, on the pitch they know better than anyone.
Real Salt Lake remained stagnant, uncreative, and lacked a sense of urgency.
Throughout the opening four games, Real Salt Lake has conceded nine goals while only managing to score three of their own. Two of which came in the opening game of the season.
Changes Must Be Made, Additions Acquired
The 2023 season is far from lost, however. The season is only in its early stages, and the front office has constructed a roster that includes many talented pieces. Andrés Gómez and Jefferson Savarino on either wing are dynamic, and Damir Kreilach playing as the attacking midfielder is a boost. Brayan Vera looked to be an upgrade on Marcelo Silva in his debut against St. Louis. Andrew Brody will continue to fly up and down his respective side of the pitch. Braian Ojeda, Jasper Löffelsend, and Pablo Ruiz can complement one another in the heart of the midfield.
But Real Salt Lake also lacks key players and if the front office does not address those issues prior to the conclusion of the transfer window then the side will likely continue to fall down the Western Conference standings.
Real Salt Lake does not have a capable striker. Rubio Rubin, Axel Kei, and Anderson Julio are players that can show glimpses of brilliance, but they are not players that Mastroeni can comfortably rely on to score goals. The front office must spend money on a dynamic striker.
The front office must also aid the midfield with a fierce defensive-minded player. Ojeda, Löffelsend, and Ruiz all enjoy getting up the pitch and helping in the attacking third. Naturally, they are all attacking-minded midfield players. The club needs an enforcer, a leader, a Kyle Beckerman-like figure. It has become far too easy for opposing teams to cut through the midfield of Real Salt Lake.
Those additions should have come during the offseason, they didn’t. So now the club and its fanbase hold their collective breath for the front office to amend its previous mistakes. The transfer window shuts on April 24.
The other alternative is that Mastroeni changes the shape of the lineup. Instead of playing offensively in a 4-2-3-1, he could consider returning to playing three across the back. A 3-4-3 could work to help try and solidify some of the midfield’s inability to track and cover while playing three across the front will provide the striker with additional help.
Regardless, something has to change. The first four games of the 2023 season have proven to be a struggle and therefore the front office, coaching staff, and playing group must all work cohesively to come up with a solution.
Up next Real Salt Lake will travel to Colombus for a date with the Crew. That fixture is scheduled for Saturday, April 1, at 5:30 p.m.
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