Real Salt Lake not overly concerned about lack of scoring through first four games of season

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake hosts FC Dallas, MLS soccer at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Saturday July 7, 2018. Real Salt Lake forward Brooks Lennon (12) and FC Dallas defender Kris Reaves (32).

Herriman • Through four regular season games, scoring has come at a premium for Real Salt Lake. The team’s three goals are the second-least in the Western Conference behind only the San Jose Earthquakes, and two of them came off penalty kicks.

Whether the lack of production thus far points to RSL’s early commitment to defense or the fact that it has played strong defensive teams, it’s clear that so far, the team has had trouble finding the back of the net.

“I don’t think we’ve produced enough goals this season so far,” right back Brooks Lennon said Tuesday after training. “In terms of going forward, I think we need to work on our movement a little bit more and try and finish off plays better.”

RSL has tallied 25 key passes in the first four games of the season. A key pass is a metric that describes a pass that leads directly to a goal-scoring opportunity. Los Angeles FC and the Seattle Sounders, both of which have scored 10 goals to start the season, have respectively completed 40 and 28 key passes. The Sounders have played only three games this season due to the current international break.


When • Saturday, 7 p.m.


But some on the team aren’t too concerned with the lack of goals. After all, three of the club’s first four games have been on the road, and RSL has finished with less than 11 men in the last two outings.

“It’s not very easy to create chances on the road,” coach Mike Petke said. “But we’ve managed to score in two out of the three [road games], which is a positive.”

Midfielder Kyle Beckerman says the offensive side of the ball generally comes together after a team’s defense has rounded into form. He added that some teams in the league go into a season knowing at least one of their players will score 15-20 goals.

But for RSL, Beckerman said, the attacking players are still finding their way there.

“If we could score right away, we would. We’re trying to,” Beckerman said. “But it just seems like the offensive end is a bit harder until you get into form.”

Luckily for RSL, the next home game is Saturday against FC Dallas, and MLS teams tend to attack with more purpose on their home fields. Lennon said RSL can get better chances on goal if, when the opportunities come, those players exhibit confidence and patience, and make passes at the right times.

“It’s easier looking at it from the stands or wherever you’re from,” Lennon said. “On the field, it’s split decisions. But I think if we just take our time and be a little bit more composed, I think we can finish off a little bit more [on] chances and that’ll give us a better chance to win.”

Injury update

Justen Glad and Joao Plata were both on the training field Tuesday working on various drills that involved running, shooting and cutting.

Glad has been out since the start of the regular season with a broken toe, and Plata has been nursing an ankle injury for the past two-plus weeks. Petke said the two are progressing and he will have a better idea of when they can return to action once they begin participating in all aspects of training.

“For now, they’re not available for this weekend,” Petke said.