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RSL tactical changes not rewarded by woodwork

On Saturday night Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando moved into third place for the longest shutout streaks in MLS history as his team faced FC Dallas. His 567-minute stretch without giving up a goal stands just 114 minutes short of Tony Meola’s all-time league mark. 

However, the story in this match was that the streak finally came to an end in 2-0 loss at Pizza Hut Park. It was not the only streak that came crashing down.


The loss ended a 10-game unbeaten run and the two goals conceded by RSL marked the first time a team has scored against them in the last eight matches. And it was also the first time Real Salt Lake had given up multiple goals since mid-April.

Salt Lake brought a different tactical approach into this match. RSL employed a 4-5-1 formation, dropping Fabian Espindola back from his usual advanced position, and leaving striker Robbie Findley as the lone option up top. 

The game plan was to employ five midfielders and to keep their own outside backs at home while using Findley’s speed to keep the opposing back line honest. The strategy appeared to prove effective in the first half, as RSL gave up only a couple of chances in the extreme heat and with 45 minutes left to play.

Things began to unravel in the early moments of the second half, as Real Salt Lake allowed themselves to be stretched along the right side of the defense on several occasions. RSL also struggled to maintain possession during this stretch.

This may have precipitated the double change that RSL manager Jason Kreis made in the 61st minute as he brought on more attacking flair and switched back to the familiar 4-4-2. Substitutes Andy Williams and Alvaro Saborio came on for Findley and Jean Alexandre. However, shortly after the moves were made, FC Dallas were able to make their mark and opened the scoring.

While the final result could suggest to some that FC Dallas comfortably managed Salt Lake, the result very nearly could have gone the opposite way. 

This RSL team enjoyed some luck a week ago, as the posts helped them keep a clean sheet in Chicago. This week, the posts became the enemy as two Real Salt Lake shots were negated by the hardware in each half – one from a low angle shot from the left by Javier Morales, and the other from a shot near the top of the area by Will Johnson. 

RSL will hope that luck comes back to smile on them next week against Chivas USA at Rio Tinto Stadium.