Real Salt Lake put goalscoring woes firmly behind them thanks to balanced attack
SANDY, Utah – In the past couple seasons, if Real Salt Lake forward Álvaro Saborío didn't play, the team – and especially the other forwards on the roster – had trouble finding the back of the net.
If the early part of 2013 is any indication, though, that won't be the case this time around.
RSL have scored six goals in the last three games – an even two in each – including the last four on the road, where the club struggled to find the net last season. What's even more encouraging for head coach Jason Kreis' men is that the six goals came from six different players.
"Everybody seems to be getting goals and assists," rookie forward Devon Sandoval told MLSsoccer.com after training on Friday. "I think everybody is confident in their abilities and it shows."
One factor the players credit for the marked improvement in developing a balanced attack is the fact they have four new forwards acquired in the offseason, all capable of producing with their variety of sizes and skill-sets.
Rookies Sandoval – a big target man – and Olmes Garcia – a raw, but multi-talented forward – have shown glimpses of brilliance. The short but speedy Joao Plata has four assists in his first season with RSL and Robbie Findley, despite being hit with the injury bug, has found the net once in his limited time on the field.
"I trained all week. It's been feeling good… I've made strides each day, which is good," said Findley after training on Friday, of his chances of playing when RSL travel to Chivas USA on Sunday (10:30 pm ET, MLS Live). "It is always good when you have competition. Everybody is competing for those forward positions, and I think it just brings out the best of players."
Also helping lessen the scoring load for Saborío is the fact that the midfield has been getting more involved with putting the ball in the net. Luis Gil and Javier Morales have scored two goals apiece on the season, and captain Kyle Beckerman scored in last week's disappointing 3-2 loss at Montreal.
"I think it is important that not only strikers are scoring, but from the midfield as well," added Findley. "I think we are headed in the right direction, and if we can keep creating those chances, we will be in good shape."
Of course, with five forwards that have all had at least three starts this season, playing time is at a premium, but the depth and competition are also two big keys to their early success.
"It definitely makes practice more competitive for us," explained Sandoval. "I love it, especially like today when we do a bunch of finishing. We kind of compete against each other, see who can score the most. It can only be good having everybody back. I'm happy about it and excited.
"It definitely makes it harder [to get playing time]," he added. "But that is why I'm here – to compete and make the team better."