Reserves rise to the occasion as Real Salt Lake swipe road win against Vancouver Whitecaps
All season, Real Salt Lake have touted their depth, claiming it to be the best in MLS.
If there were any doubts of the claim, they certainly backed it up with their 1-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday evening.
With the US Open Cup final against D.C. United only four days away, RSL fielded a team with 10 different starters than their first-choice 11. It was the same lineup that started and won a Reserve League match 2-0 over Chivas USA last Tuesday, without names like Nick Rimando, Javier Morales or Kyle Beckerman.
But it worked anyway, even against a team fighting for their playoff lives.
"I told the players yesterday that I think for me, this was just all about opportunity," Kreis said in the team’s postgame television interview. "There was no reason to be fearful. There was no reason to come here thinking that we may lose — just go out there and give it everything we have and if we come away with a result, you will have helped the team tremendously both with the points and also to put us back into winning ways going into Tuesday night."
The back four of Lovel Palmer, Brandon McDonald, Chris Schuler and Abdoulie Mansally was especially stout, helping goalkeeper Jeff Attinella post his career's first shutout and earn his first MLS win.
"It took a few games, but I'm happy to finally get a win, especially a shutout," Attinella said in a postgame television interview. "A lot of credit goes to the defense. They played unbelievable today."
Kreis agreed with the rookie 'keeper.
"The center-back pairing ... Schuler was excellent, McDonald was excellent; Attinella was really, really spot on for us," Kreis said. "He made the huge save in the first half when we needed him to, and he came off the line really well throughout the match."
The result with a mainly reserve lineup may surprise many followers of MLS, but to RSL, it was just another day at the office.
"It's unbelievable," Attinella said. "Every day is a battle. Everyone is a competitor; everyone wants to be on the field, and that's part of being so deep.
"To come out here and play against Vancouver, we feel like we play against the best team in MLS every day when we play against ourselves. So it was just an excellent result, and to be a part of it everyday, and to just help get a result was just an awesome feeling."