Ready, aim, fire: RSL trio on target

Put yourself in the goalkeeper's shoes.

A free kick is being taken at the top of your penalty area and three guys line up in position to take the kick. You know that anyone of them could be the man and put a well-placed ball in the back of your net. It's not a pretty picture as you try and set your defense.

But that is exactly what opposing 'keepers will face this season as they take the field against Real Salt Lake. Call it a three-headed monster: Jason Kreis, Clint Mathis and Andy Williams, all capable free kick takers.

But how does a coach manage three stars, all of whom have proven their ability in such situations?

"I coach in practice," said Real head coach John Ellinger, "but when it comes to the game it is all up to them."

It all sounds good -- the players making the choice, but Shaq and Kobe couldn't make things work for the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers. So, how does it work when you have three players all of whom are used to getting the nod?

"If all three of us stand over the ball," Andy Williams says, "no fights -- it is just a feeling and that guy takes the kick."

Kreis echoed that sentiment. "Whoever is feeling it says so, and he takes the kick," Kreis said.

Aren't there situations where it someone is designated as the kick taker?

"Not really. It is a difficult decision to make," Kreis said. "We are all humble and it goes to whoever is feeling it at the time."

While having three solid dead ball strikers might be a coaches dream, it is a 'keeper's nightmare.

"I am just glad those guys are on my team," said Real goalkeeper D.J. Countess. "I wouldn't want to face any one of them, let alone all three."

While Countess may be counting his blessings that he doesn't have to stare down those three guys as opponents, unsure who is going to take the kick, the Galaxy's Kevin Hartman will not be so lucky on Saturday.

"It's not just those three who can take kick either," Ellinger said, "Brian Kamler has a decent left foot as well."

David Hale is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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