Real Salt Lake making atypical defensive errors
Sandy • Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando and Ned Grabavoy were locked in an intense conversation as they left the Rio Tinto Stadium field at conclusion of the first half of Saturday's 2-1 loss to San Jose.
Actually, it was more one-sided, with Rimando doing most of the talking. One didn't have to read lips to know the speaking points were most likely about defensive errors.
While the first half was scoreless, there were signs that all was not right with the normally reliable RSL defense. These were the same indication that came right before Los Angeles' goal explosion during Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Galaxy.
"We've had such a good defensive record over the years," RSL midfielder Will Johnson said. "Right now we're making really poor decisions and it's costing us. We got to dig deep, stick together as a team and find a way out of this quickly."
That RSL is at Columbus on Saturday might be a blessing in disguise. For Real is not the same team that was 6-1 at home prior to its first back-to-back MLS home losses.
Add in the U.S. Open Cup loss to minor-league Minnesota, and that makes three defeats at home in a row.
For RSL coach Jason Kreis, it's back to square one.
"We've told our players now for a very long time, that we will give away goals in a couple of ways," he said. "One will be on dead balls; tonight we had the evidence of that. And the other will be on counter attacks when we give up possession cheaply, and we had two instances of that on Wednesday."
A San Jose long free kick into the RSL 18-yard box and an Earthquake throw inside RSL's half of the field finished with the ball in the net.
Bad luck may have played a role in the first, as Nat Borchers got tangled with goal scorer Alan Gordon. The ball bounced right to Gordon, who headed it past Rimando.
The second was the result of two 50-50 balls that saw RSL not in proper defensive position.
"If you keep a zero every game, you're not going to lose," Johnson said simply. "You'll find a way to get a goal. We're a team that's always going to find a way to get a goal. Tonight, we should have had five or six. The important thing to remember, if we keep the zero we'll be in good shape. We're not doing that at the moment."
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RSL outshoots San Jose 19 to 12, but allows two goals on defensive errors.
For the first time, RSL has lost back-to-back home games in MLS competition.