Real Salt Lake – San Jose Earthquakes: Persistent Salt Lake Turn Over Tired San Jose (1-0)

A blistering start between two high intensity sides produced a captivating spectacle before tired legs and a lack of defensive discipline led Real Salt Lake to a well-deserved win in front of a tense home crowd.

Tactical analysis and match report by Tom Quartly.

Tonight’s main event saw two top Western Conference sides go head-to-head in a game that placed a major impetus on the final season standings. Real Salt Lake sat just behind the visitors San Jose Earthquakes in sixth spot, however a win could see them rise as high as second. A loss for either side would put them at risk of slipping out the play-off spots altogether. Tensions riding high at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, and a solid argument in favour of a play-off structure.

Real Salt Lake’s manager Mike Petke has cultivated a highly structured side capable of stumping opposition teams with a relentless high press. What we still do not know is if they can transfer this aggressive defensive style into three points on a consistent basis. A loss to ten man Portland last time out meant that Petke had changes to make within his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

Croatian attacking midfielder Damir Kreilach was the only player to keep his place from Salt Lake’s front four, whilst a change in the double pivot 4-2-3-1 is one of the most frequently occurring formations in football. The two most defensive midfielders are called a ‘double pivot’. saw Kyle Beckerman come in for Kelyn Rowe. On the other hand, San Jose manager Matías Almeyda had the luxury of retaining the majority of his starting eleven; Valeri Qazaishvili . . .

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