Real Salt Lake came out with a different look on Friday, employing a 4-1-4-1 formation in their trip to Philadelphia, but the scoresheet showed more of the same as their road struggles continued.
Though RSL got a result with a 0-0 draw, the Claret-and-Cobalt once again failed to score a goal on the road – they have scored only once in their last six road games in all competitions.
By placing Alvaro Saborio up top alone, and putting both Javier Morales and Luis Gil into the midfield, it appeared as though coach Jason Kreis and the team were going against their attacking mentality, getting more defensive and playing for a point. But that is not how the coach envisioned it working.
HIGHLIGHTS: PHI 0, RSL 0
"We changed our shape tonight, and it was meant out of actually trying to be a little bit more offensive and trying to cut the runs in half," head coach Jason Kreis explained. "Playing with the two attacking midfielders and one forward I thought it might be a little easier for our outside midfielders to get to their outside backs and close things down.
"I thought we did an excellent job of that in the first 10 minutes or so and created a couple things in the first half. But then I think it just became a matter of we didn't have the legs to play well enough tonight as we typically would."
Real didn't exactly bunker, but they also didn't put numbers forward like they usually do, and the scoring opportunities were few and far between.
Saborio never had a clear scoring chance alone up top and the team's best scoring chances came from the midfield. Gil had a shot from the top of the box in the first half that he fired wide and probably should have done better with, and Jonny Steele broke free after a great ball from Kyle Beckerman and dribbled past 'keeper Zac MacMath only for his touch to let him down, allowing MacMath to recover and claim the ball.
But while the offense was hard to come by, the visitors did play good team defense to get what it wanted most out of the match.
"The whole team just really had a mindset that they needed to get a shutout tonight. Typically, when we are very, very focused on doing that, we get it," said Kreis.
One other key factor in evaluating the new formation is the fact RSL were playing their third game in six days – fatigue was definitely something to keep an eye on.
"Tuesday night was so emotional with our backs against the wall, and we expended a great deal of energy to make sure we got the win there," said Kreis of RSL's 2-0 win over Panamanian team Tauro FC in CONCACAF Champions League play. "…(We) come out and play a team that is as emotional as Philadelphia and team that obviously felt like, as you read everything, they had to win that game. It was a difficult task for us, and I was pleased with the result."