Mar 15, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Jose Earthquakes defender Victor Bernardez (5) controls the ball before scoring a goal in stoppage time against the Real Salt Lake during the second half at Buck Shaw Stadium. The San Jose Earthquakes tied Real Salt Lake 3-3. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake @ San Jose - 15 Thoughts

It was just one of those typical San Jose “Goonies Never Say Die” kind of days, wasn’t it. Here are my 15 thoughts / talking points from the game.

1. Without Chris Schuler, this team is mediocre (at best) in the air defensively. We aren’t terrible in the air, I wouldn’t go that far, but we aren’t at all the same team. It’s shocking how differently teams have to attack the center of the RSL defense when Schuler is there and when he isn’t.

2. Further along those lines, possibly the biggest point in this match was the Maund injury. This, to me, lost us the 2 points. Because Maund went down, Salcedo had to come in. His weakest aspect of his game is aerial balls. Moreover, Saborio had to play the full 90 because of this. We had no outlet late because Sabo was gassed. Garcia would have been the sub (I hope) for him had Maund stayed healthy. His speed would have relieved pressure.

3. Another massive point in the action was when Saborio hit his 1 v 1 with the keeper shot off the post. Had that gone in, the game moves to 4-2 and the wind is taken out of San Jose’s sails. I said it on twitter at the time “that miss is going to come to haunt us”. 95th minute, it sure did.

4. Luis Gil played a great 45 minutes. After the first half, like much of the RSL attack, he disappeared. He was having a heck of a night to start but faded. That’s one of his biggest weaknesses.

5. Joao Plata is setting himself up to have a RSL MVP type season. His work rate is astonishing but that’s not the selling point for me. What sets him above is his willingness to do the “dirty work” that other forwards for RSL tend to not do. He tracks back constantly and sparks attacks with his burst.

6. The Wondo goal was offside but wasn’t as big of a point as you might think. If we’re being honest, San Jose was going to score early in this game one way or another. The amount of service they were getting in early was equal to that they were getting late. It was just a matter of time. The AR should have flagged it, but it was a quick play and understandably hard to see. Hopefully we get one of those to go our way later this year.

7. Credit needs to be given to San Jose for their relentless nature. It’s annoying and frequently unattractive soccer, but it sure is dramatic. San Jose fought tooth a nail in this one to get a point. RSL was poor late, but it wasn’t as though San Jose didn’t put forth the effort to claim a point.

8. The first 45 minutes of this game were some of the best I can remember seeing from RSL. This might sound strange given we gave up a very early goal, but it was wide open attractive soccer after that. It’s sad that we couldn’t put some more of that out in the second half or we could have run away with this game.

9. The wing defense from RSL needs to improve. We can discuss how the center backs / defense should have been better in the air all night, but if the service isn’t allowed it’s not a concern. Crosses are going to be given up, I understand that, but the amount of crosses that were simply uncontested (especially in the second half) was something that has to be fixed.

10. Luke Mulholland had a great first start. The guy is everything we wanted  Jonny Steele to be and then some. I don’t want to get too high on the guy as we’ve had fresh faces come in here and be flashes in the pan (Paulo Junior, anyone?) but he is showing the skill set to be a long-term success. Garth Lagerway, your next round is on me.

11. After a week of solid subs, the subs this week didn’t come through. The Grossman move made sense on paper, but it actually hurt the team as it moved us to be even more narrow – giving up more uncontested crosses. Allen for Plata again made sense on paper, but Jordan struggled to find space on a very small pitch and became ineffective. In hindsight, it might have been better to put Garcia in right here. Lastly, Salcedo was asked to come into a game he was always going to struggle with. He has to get better in the air, plain and simple.

12. The claims of being a more offensive side under Cassar aren’t just hot air. This team plays more free under Jeff than it did under Kreis. It hurts us as we get more exposed, but it’s a lot more fun to watch this team attack than be worried about defense like it habitually was under Jason..

13. The killer instinct that RSL habitually lacked under Kreis doesn’t look like it has been fixed. This is not a good thing and hopefully something that can change. A more offensive side should be more lethal and able to kill off a game. A goal in the second half for RSL would have all but won this match.

14. 4 points out of 6 after two road games is something nobody really expected. I felt we were already playing with “house money” after a win in LA. To get a point in San Jose was awesome – just the way it played out wasn’t. Still, expectations need to be tempered on this team.

15. These next 3 games for RSL will really show the character of this squad. The home opener is against the LA Galaxy. A good side that will test us. That is followed by Toronto and their new look side. Are they as good as they looked in Seattle? Then after that we make a trip to Kansas City to try to exercise some MLS Cup demons. It’s a brutal 3 game stretch that could stamp Cassar’s label on the team.


Tags: 15 Thoughts Jeff Cassar Major League Soccer MLS Real Salt Lake San Jose Earthquakes SJ Quakes Soccer Week 2

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