It is with great sadness that I report that, once again, Real Salt Lake has lost a home match. And it’s with similar sadness that I report that it’s by a two-goal margin, and that they’ve lost 3-1. It hurts my fingers to write that. Not — not literally, of course. Of course! I’ve been typing for most of my life (which, at my age, isn’t a feat), but I started typing young. I remember vividly typing away on my Tandy 1000, but that’s really neither here nor there.
Although, if I can be frank with you: That computer let me down less than this team has this year. Six home losses — six! I usually don’t try to use exclamation points in my work, mostly because I have a (potentially misguided) bias against them as lazy writing. But wow. It’s the worst home record for RSL since 2007. It’s inexcusable, really.
I would try to break down this match against FC Dallas, but you know what? I don’t know what we’d learn doing that — at least nothing we don’t already know. Could we discover a root cause? Absolutely not, unless it somehow happens to be “players who were good have become bad,” but that seems both unlikely and unsatisfying. I can say that RSL was extremely lucky to get out of that match with 11 players, with Damir Kreilach spared a red card by what was to me a very unlikely post-review call. You know what? I’d rather that outcome. I’d rather watch an individual mistake put a team in a struggling position than to watch a team simply implode.
To give you a sense of my process: I’m waiting for the post-match press conference with Pablo Mastroeni to see if he has anything particularly interesting to say, and I’m afraid it’s going to be the same thing, which has already been repeated ad nauseam. And while I wait, a few things giving me pause for thought:
- Diego Luna getting just six minutes (well, 14 minutes, if you consider stoppage time) feels bad. He’s back to generally being a bench figure, and at least he’s playing, but he was so good when he was starting. This team built through him. And now? I dunno.
- The only player more adept at sitting offside than Damir Kreilach: Anderson Julio.
Oh, he’s here. (On the radio, I mean. I’m not at the game.) Pablo Mastroeni is flustered. He’s talking about the team switching off, “thinking so much about that moment that they’re not dialed in those moments.” Ah, it’s a confidence thing. He calls himself “100% responsible,” but he clarifies that he’s responsible for “everything off the field,” and that the players are responsible for the result.
“The game is made for the players. What makes soccer unique is that the coaches during the game is the least (important) of any sport. The leadership has to be such that, in those moments, you pull those players together.” … “It was just three or four moments that we were tuned out, and it cost us the game.”
I don’t know. I just don’t know. It’s definitely not a “the buck stops here” attitude from Mastroeni. It’s sort of a “well, my part’s fine” attitude.
I guess I’ll leave it there.