RSL Roundup: Time to dig deep after home defeat

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SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake suffered a tough loss against Seattle Sounders at home on Saturday, ending a 29-game home unbeaten streak. The players, though, were less concerned about the streak coming to an end than they were about the recent stretch of sub-standard play from the team.

“All good things must come to an end,” head coach Jason Kreis said postgame. “I’m really not sure how to feel about it, [how to] digest it. I’ve been so focused on all of the small things going on in our team lately.”  

The loss came during a downpour that may have made the Seattle squad feel at home.  

“I do think you could say that it would benefit [Seattle], being from the Northwest,” quipped defender Nat Borchers.  

Borchers, to his credit, refused to use the rain as an excuse, despite it potentially playing a factor in the fateful play — a red card to fellow central defender Jámison Olave who appeared to slip, tugging down a Sounders attacker in the process.  

“I know Sigi and [Timbers head coach] John Spencer got into a tiff about weather conditions and how they benefit teams, so I don’t think it’s an excuse," Borchers said. "I actually like those kind of conditions with the rain, and I think the ball skips really nicely and makes the game a lot faster, and so I don’t think that’s an excuse at all.”  

Gold Cup absences

Things aren’t going to be easier over the next few weeks for RSL as they will be heavily impacted by losing players to Gold Cup action. Starters Álvaro Saborío (Costa Rica) and Will Johnson (Canada) will each miss the next few games along with key reserve Arturo Alvarez (El Salvador).

Goalkeeper Nick Rimando could also be called up to the US squad if needed, but he currently remains with his club. 

“With the guys gone, [Javier Morales’] injury, and now Olave suspended, you’re talking about four, five or six guys that started your Champions League final," Johnson said. "It’s tough. I feel like I’m jumping ship right now.”

However, he recognized that the real issue is the conflict between the MLS calendar and the international calendar.  

“That’s the way it goes with these international games,” he said. “I can’t feel bad about it. You just have to understand that it’s an honor to be called up to the national team, and if I have to miss club games because of it, it’s not my fault.”

Filling in

With so many of the regulars out of the mix, the team is looking for others to step up. Johnson was pleased with youngsters Luis Gil and Nelson Gonzalez, who combined for a late goal against Seattle.

“It’s a positive sign,” Johnson said. “We’re going to need these young guys to step up. But so far, since Javi’s gone, as a group we haven’t stepped up. We’ve let ourselves down on numerous occasions, and it just hasn’t been good enough. Guys are going to keep on getting opportunities and we’ve got to keep plugging away here and find a way to get results.”

Kreis described Jean Alexandre’s performance up top as "OK," insisting that the converted midfielder will “need to improve as we go forward.” But he had more glowing results for the performance of Gonzalez.

“Nelson comes into the game like that, down a man, and was as bright as he was and scores a goal,” Kreis said. "It’s going to be hard to leave him off the lineup next week."