Pablo Mastroeni to work on Real Salt Lake defense during international break

Real Salt Lake have conceded the fourth-highest number of goals in MLS this season.
Real Salt Lake have conceded the fourth-highest number of goals in MLS this season. / Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake interim coach Pablo Mastroeni says he'll use the upcoming break to work on his side's discipline out of possession.

Ranking fourth in the league for goals scored (45) and goals against (44), RSL are arguably one of the most entertaining sides in MLS for the neutral.

The Utah team currently sit fifth in the Western Conference but with just two points separating them from the Vancouver Whitecaps in eighth, a place in the playoffs is by no means assured.

Playing their seventh game in just under a month, RSL lost 2-1 to Austin FC on Saturday with a goal in either half from Cecilio Dominguez consigning Damir Kreilach's 64th-minute strike to consolation status.

But with the busy schedule over, RSL now have a two-week break before they return to action. Mastroeni intends to use that time to work on his side's out-of-possession shape.

“All of the basic principles," he responded when asked what the focus will be over the next fortnight.

"In this formation, because we are so expansive, the cover positions and the shape behind the ball has to be better when things turn over so that we can get pressure on the ball, but we’re not also getting beaten with one pass through three players. The attention to that part of it needs to be better."

Mastroeni continued: "I thought we improved with the ball from our last game, but in saying that, I thought we were really cheap in possession. Our positions when we were in the attack were better. However, our execution was really poor today.

"I think we just have to work on all of those little things. It’s not the big thing, I think the guys are comfortable doing that. But those two things, our shape behind the ball in possession will be critical and the mentality from our midfielders whenever we press.

"The other part of that is making better decisions on the ball. We’ll go back and look at the tape and make those decisions, but being sharper on both sides of the ball is what our focus will be.”

Following their break, Real Salt Lake host Rocky Mountain Cup rivals Colorado Rapids on 16th October.