On Monday night, the San Jose Earthquakes eased past Real Salt Lake in a 5-2 victory to book their place in the quarter-finals of the MLS is Back Tournament. Here are three things we learned.
This encounter produced seven goals, two of which came from the penalty spot. The 5-2 scoreline might have reflected a little harshly on RSL in the end, but it displays how efficient the Earthquakes were in front of goal tonight in Orlando.
As Matias Almeyda leads his side to an unlikely quarterfinal appearance to face either Columbus Crew or Minnesota United, here are three things we learned.
3. Man-marking system exploited?
Real Salt Lake looked their most dangerous whenever they won the midfield battle, which often stemmed from Albert Rusnak or another midfielder beating their man and exploiting a space in midfield. That strategy resulted in Damir Kreilach’s goal as he outmuscled Judson, darting in behind the San Jose defense and sliding an excellent finish into the bottom corner.
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Watching San Jose Earthquakes defend sometimes is like watching a basketball game where the players are too slow to react the movements of their opposing player. With little cover, every man is accountable to mark their opposite number. One mistake and the whole system can fall through.
As such, while at times it proves to be effective, it needs some tweaks in order to remain a viable strategy. Communication is key, as is concentration. And RSL did find more openings against the man-marking scheme than previous opponents. Perhaps it is a chink in the armor.