Possibly the most notable story from the Chicago Fire–Real Salt Lake game on Saturday afternoon was the resurgence of Chicago being made official. It was a statement win for the hosts, who looked more cohesive, creative, and threatening than they have in a while. For RSL, though, it was a worrying display that puts them at zero goals through two games.
Real Salt Lake Lack Possession With Purpose in Loss to Chicago Fire
The visitors fell 2-0 in a game where they failed to put together almost anything significant on goal. Yura Movsisyan received precious little distribution from the players around him, and Chicago keeper Jorge Bava was all too quiet. The main issue for RSL was their ability to translate possession into real attacking opportunities, and if they don’t get this solved, they will continue to stay off the scoresheet.
Albert Rusnak, the 22-year old Slovakian midfielder, has been tasked with being the team’s primary creator, and while he’s been able to get on the ball a lot, he has been unable to adequately distribute to Movsisyan and the wingers. That means RSL is left creating opportunities solely via low-percentage crosses and set pieces.
Looking at Movsisyan’s pass and shot map, you notice the lack of touches in Zone 14, the central area between the 18-yard box and the center circle. Movsisyan did not complete a pass in the final third once, and was eerily quiet around the box. The shot on target at the penalty spot was a light tap that fell to the feet of Bava, not anything evident of a real attacking opportunity.
Last year, Salt Lake based their attack around 1v1 ability on the flanks, rather than the center forward, so we usually don’t see Movsisyan involved in build-up. But the wingers were ineffective as well.
Jordan Allen (who came off injured early), Ricardo Velazco, and Luis Silva were active, but there was a prevalent amount of red (indicative of incomplete passes) on their passing map closer to the goal.
Chicago full backs Brandon Vincent and Michael Harrington were able to shut down Silva and Velazco, negating much of RSL’s ability to get their attack going. Number eight Sunday Stephen, usually a constant for Jeff Cassar, struggled and was subbed off at halftime.
It’s important to note that their best player, Joao Plata, wasn’t feeling well and was left out of the starting lineup. But this doesn’t excuse their impotent nature going forward.
Rusnak and some of the younger Americans will begin to settle in eventually, but right now, they’ve failed to find any sort of cohesiveness across the starting XI.