With the season now a third of the way complete for the defending champs, MLSsoccer.com’s Randy Davis takes a quick look at where Real Salt Lake stand, and what’s coming their way.
Overall Position: Real Salt Lake have 19 points on the season, with a 6-3-1 record. They boast the third most points in the league despite a rough start, but they still trail the LA Galaxy in the Western Conference (9-0-2, 29 points).
At Home: Just as in 2009, RSL are nearly impossible to beat at home, and they tend to score goals in bunches while in the comforts of their own surroundings. They are unbeaten at home (4-0-1), and have reeled off four straight wins at Rio Tinto after opening the home slate with a 2-2 draw against Seattle. They’ve scored a whopping 14 goals in five home matches, and have a whopping plus-9 goal differential to show for it.
Away: Last season the champs had a gaudy positive goal differential at home, but struggled scoring away from Rio Tinto Stadium. The tide has turned, as Real Salt Lake finally have a positive away goal differential (7-6). They still have a losing road record at 2-3-0 on the season, but those two victories equal their road wins for the entire season in 2009.
Offense: There’s no doubt that RSL is one of the league’s more exciting teams, boasting perhaps the most attractive and aggressive approach in MLS. Real Salt Lake have shown that they can score goals, and they again lead the league in scoring with 21 goals on the season. They’re also taking only five shots per goal scored, which is tops in the league. Unlike years past, they’re in the middle of the pack (7th) when it comes to shots. They have only generated 108 shots, slightly over 10 per game. Eleven different players have scored: three forwards, five midfielders, and three defenders.
Defense: RSL have given up 11 goals on this season, which again puts them in the middle of the pack. Of the team’s 11 goals allowed this season, six have come on the road. Coach Jason Kreis has challenged his team to earn a shutout recently, but they’ve failed to make it happen. They have only two shutouts this season, and only two teams (Philadelphia and D.C. United) have fewer.