In a year where times have changed for some teams the Real Salt Lake team simply hasn’t.
Even with a new Head Coach the system continues to work as RSL continued their winning ways against the Portland Timbers.
How you might ask? Nick Rimando – full stop.
When Caleb Porter indicated his team had done everything he asked he was pretty much telling you the truth.
To illustrate let’s not forget some basics about this game; here are some facts so far in 2014 that also held true in 2013:
Teams that have historically higher passing accuracy percentages do better. Portland had the second highest overall passing accuracy of any RSL opponent this year (77.17%) versus (77.43%) for LA Galaxy.
Teams that are more patient in their penetration into the Final Third in creating Shots Taken normally do better. In other words quality beats quantity. Portland generated just 15% of their penetration into shots taken – percentages indicate there was patience by Portland as this was the lowest amount of shots taken per penetration by any opponent this year.
Teams that win, given that patience in penetrating and creating shots taken, on average, score 2.19 goals per ~5 shots on goal versus teams that lose who score roughly .58 goals per five shots on goal. Again, Portland were in top form leading up to scoring the goals – they had 44.44% of their shots taken on goal.
The difference, the huge difference was 0% goals scored from some clear shots on goal. Thank Nick Rimando for that and perhaps feel a bit lucky that a better striker than either Urruti or Powell wasn’t on the end of that ball… otherwise RSL might very well have lost this game.
If you wish to read more about Possession, Passing, and Penetration with Purpose suggest you read my latest article about Expected Wins.
So why mention that sort of information after a 1-nil triumph over Portland?
Here’s why: There are better strikers in this league on a number of teams – that slack approach in limiting quality leading up to a shot taken needs to get better if RSL intends on making it back to the MLS Cup Final.
For now, RSL is in top form compared to other Western Conference Teams, on their Defensive Possession with Purpose (here is a link to what PWP is) Index.
But when looking at the Composite PWP Index (The differential between Attacking PWP and Defending PWP) RSL have other competition in the Western Conference performing much better — FC Dallas and Seattle; with LA Galaxy on their heals.
So… Portland came into town and pretty much did what they needed to do – apart from bury the bloody ball into the back of the net.
If I were an RSL supporter take heed – the season is long and as Sporting KC proved last year – Defensive teams are more likely to win Championships as opposed to those who try to out-score their opponents.
Best, Chris Gluck