Here are three things we learned from Real Salt Lake’s 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes.
1. RSL needs to capitalize early in the game
Real Salt Lake held 72 percent possession in the first half — 64.2 percent overall — yet the home squad could not find a way to score. With four shot attempts in the box in those first 45 minutes, RSL needs to take advantage of those early opportunities to mount more pressure on whoever it’s facing. With such lopsided possession, Real Salt Lake should have come out with a win, but San Jose fought hard enough to earn a point on the road.
With 28 shots and eight on target, this sort of performance seemed gutting to both the players and coaching staff.
“Like a handful of games this year already, we just couldn’t find the back of the net,” RSL coach Mike Petke said.
2. Rusnák adds a spark to RSL
Albert Rusnák played with the Slovakia national team for a two-game stint, keeping him out of the Real Salt Lake lineup for about a month. He showed fans on Saturday why he is an integral part to this team.
Rusnák had plenty of opportunities to score — he had six shots, one of which was on goal — and more important he was the mastermind behind the point RSL came away with on Saturday night. By virtue of a precisely placed corner kick in the 54th minute to Corey Baird, who then headed the ball to Damir Kreilach for another header, this one into the goal Rusnák made sure his placement was exact. Real Salt Lake had been working on set pieces in training leading up to this game, so though there weren’t many positives, Rusnák was pleased to see their practice pay off.
3. It’s not because of a lack of quality
Petke felt like his players did everything they could to earn three points after not competing for a couple of weeks. And while Rusnák argues the team could have performed better in the final third, Petke thinks his team is made up of quality players, they just happened to run into a bit of misfortune, rushed a few things and perhaps even took a touch too many. And while he mentioned that this draw felt like a loss, he is glad his team prevailed with a point.
“We left ourselves open for the counterattack, but we did a good job of recovering … we had opportunities,” Petke said. “Frustrating night, but a point nonetheless.”