Real Salt Lake Must Eliminate Conceding Late Goals
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake has played well through the first chapter of the 2021 season, however, one element remains questionable; depth.
Eye Opening Numbers
Five of the seven goals conceded this year have occurred in the final 15 minutes of games. That is 70% of goals conceded this year have occurred in the 75th minute or later.
RSL has only conceded two first-half goals. So, why is it that the majority of goals being conceded are occurring when RSL is required to be at its strongest defensively?
Depth & Fresh Legs
The short answer is depth. Manager Freddy Juarez has had a difficult time finding players to come off his bench that will have an impact. Maikel Chang, Douglas Martinez Jr., and Justin Meram have been the likely candidates to come off the bench for RSL. Outside of those three players, Juarez does not have much to work with.
However, that is likely going to change with the additions of several key playmakers following the primary transfer window.
Croatian center-back Toni Datković will fight for playing time but will likely be used off the bench while he acclimatizes to the altitude and style of Major League Soccer. His addition is monumental for the depth of the RSL team, Juarez can now throw him into the game for a tired Marcelo Silva or Justen Glad or throw him into the backline to create five along the back.
Either option is promising and adds depth to a much-needed position group.
Attacking Third Options
Then, the additions of Jonathan Menéndez and Bobby Wood puts pressure on current starting forwards. Rubio Rubin is hopeful to keep his starting position, captain Albert Rusnak is under pressure to find form while Anderson Julio has impressed throughout the opening month and a half.
The moral of this story is simple, regardless of what Juarez opts to do as it relates to the starting XI. The players who find themselves on the bench will be better than what Juarez has had at his disposal thus far.
Hopefully, the depth of the roster can provide Juarez and RSL relief as the final minutes of games tick on by. Closing out contests has been troublesome for RSL, but, the newly signed acquisitions can help provide some comfort, hopefully.
RSL will host Vancouver Whitecaps at Rio Tinto Stadium on Friday, June 18 with kickoff expected for 8 p.m.
The match will be available to stream for free via the KSL 5 TV app or on KSL Sports dot com.