This is the scouting report of Real Salt Lake, which was written based on some 2015 matches and the recent CONCACAF Champions League play against Tigres UANL.
Formation: 4-3-3 / 4-2-3-1
Real Salt Lake has one formation that has multiple looks. The 4-2-3-1 looks more like a 4-3-3 in the attack and a 4-2-3-1 in defense. Kyle Beckerman anchors the defensive midfield and Javier Morales is their work horse in the attack. They look to use combination play within the midfield more so than using the width like Orlando City. RSL is at its best when it's dictating the play and moving the ball around the park. The times where Real looked weak in 2015 were when it sat back and looked for the counter attack.
This formation is what Orlando City saw last year in its 1-1 road tie on July 4. That game comes with multiple disclaimers, as the match was changed with Kaká's red card just before the half, and Real Salt Lake fielded some of its reserves because of injuries and international duties. The midfield likes to funnel balls into the center and allow Beckerman to clean up the opposing team's attack.
Kyle Beckerman (5) - CDM
He is an excellent tackler of the ball. Challenges every 50-50 ball and has no fear. He supports the attack, but isn't the goal scorer for the team. He will be a thorn in the side of your striker and has the capability to shut down your best option. He is starting to lose a step, but his positioning is keeping him relevant at age 33.
Nick Rimando (18) - GK
An MLS veteran goalkeeper who can steal matches from other teams. He is an excellent shot stopper and is always in the correct position to make the save. He is the goalkeeper you want on your team to be a leader and perform in pressure situations. He isn't easily rattled and reads penalty kicks better than anyone in the league, so much so that Jürgen Klinsmann was even going to sub him into the match for the shootout in a CONCACAF match against Mexico. His weakness is his ability to deal with crosses with his 5-foot-9 inch frame. He does well to make good decisions, however most end with him boxing the ball out of the penalty area, which can leave second-chance opportunities.
Javier Morales (11) - CM
Morales is the play-maker for Real Salt Lake. He looks to get involved with the attack and has great soccer IQ. He can read situations and find the seams in an opponent's back line. He also can find the back of the net, and he can be especially dangerous from distance and on set pieces around the penalty area. The best option is not to give him space to work with. His play is based on rhythm and getting involved in the match; if he goes missing on the field so, does the RSL attack.
Yura Movsisyan (14) - ST
Movsisyan rejoins Real Salt Lake from Spartak Moscow, and he brings a physicality that cannot be matched in MLS. He is an excellent target forward, and as he gets accustomed to the league again he will become one of the leaders in the league in goals. He plays well with his back to goal, allowing for his teammates to find opportunities. If his back is to goal, he will find Morales and both will punish you from distance.
What to take advantage of:
RSL surrendered two in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal against Tigres. They seemed to be lost when picking up marks and, combine this with a goalkeeper who sticks his line on crosses, and there are opportunities to get goals. The short corner worked very well in the first CCL match. Short corners can be dangerous as they take bodies out of the box and provide a better angle to whip a cross in with pace.
Below Average Back Line
The two center backs, Aaron Maund and Jamison Olave, are nothing to be scared of. Olave is 34 years old and is starting to show his age. The center backs should be attacked and exploited as much as possible. They do have the experience in playing alongside one another, but their shaky decisions allow opportunities to beat them with one-two passes.
If you are lucky enough to catch this team during a week with multiple matches, they don't have a lot of depth at certain positions. If Beckerman or Morales goes down, RSL is forced to throw young and unproven players on the field. If this becomes the case, exploit the youth of RSL.
Real Salt Lake made a couple of moves to try to improve upon its dismal 2015 performance, but it will go as far as Morales and Beckerman will take it. Rimando being able to steal a match might keep this team in playoff contention. If things go sour early on, Real Salt Lake might be a team that could spiral down the table.