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Three questions: Sounders vs Real Salt Lake

Matt from RSL Soapbox for stopped by for a lovely chat.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Real Salt Lake Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

We got the chance to catch up with RSL Soapbox about the ongoings surrounding Real Salt Lake.

Sounder at Heart: The last time we talked was amidst the craziest week in Real Salt Lake’s history. Have things calmed down for the club and the fans? What’s the latest with the sale of the team?

RSL Soapbox: It’s sort of an eerie silence at this point. I understand that in a tornado, there’s some sort of quiet in the eye of the storm. (c.f., Twister, 1996.) We still don’t know the state of the sale of the team — multiple suitors are apparently involved. We do know the investigation has turned over a few things. For example, the coach of Utah Royals, Craig Harrington, is “on leave” with allegations of sexual harassment. We have no official word there yet. The same can be said for RSL’s chief business officer, Andy Carroll, who was accused of harassment and abuse.

In a way, things have calmed down. We haven’t had any new allegations for ... maybe a couple weeks? But it also has me feeling a bit uneasy. I’d very much like these things to be taken care of, sooner rather than later.

SAH: Not to over simplify things too much, but it seems like RSL’s problems stem from allowing a lot more goals into their net than they put into the opponents net. Also this seems to happen against bad teams! Are there systemic defensive issues afoot? What’s the deal there?

RSL: Yes. In part, we have two good centerbacks (Justen Glad and Nedum Onuoha) and two less-good centerbacks (Marcelo Silva and Erik Holt.) One is an experienced player who makes terrible mistakes about two times a match; the other is a second-year MLS player who appears to be a little out of his depth. When our two best center backs play, we tend to do well. When they do not, we tend to play poorly. It is troubling, then, that one of the two good ones — Nedum Onuoha — is out with a hamstring injury. We’re left with Justen Glad and Marcelo Silva, presumably, which has not really been a great pairing at any point.

The other thing to consider is that RSL’s balance between the back line and the midfield is a bit out of alignment. Our centerbacks often drop deep, while our midfield often pushes high, and as a result, we leave acres of space wide open between the two. Please do not exploit that, though. I know I can trust you.

SAH: There’s a month left of the season and RSL sits just above the playoff life. What are your expectations for the rest of the season? What qualifies as a “good” 2020 season for RSL?

RSL: I dunno. I’d like a new owner this season. I’d also like to see us make the playoffs. But as much as a (hopefully former!) chief business officer at the club once said, playoffs are the goal. We’ve been run like the goal is making them, too, which is to say, we scrape by, at best. We have unearthed some gems, but for the most part, we’re subsisting on a diet of young academy players who aren’t ready to play, MLS castoffs, a small set of very good homegrown players, and the occasional international player who can hold his own.

But, you know, making the playoffs does mean anything can happen. I guess I’d take that as a good season, because really, there’s got to be something good about this terrible year.

Our exchange about the Sounders can be found here.