LEHI, Utah — Real Salt Lake's recent scoring woes have been well-documented. With just one goal in their last four matches, the team has been asked its fill of questions on the topic.
But explaining it isn't as easy as it seems. The loss of Javier Morales certainly hasn’t helped, but the scoring drought began before his untimely injury.
A good deal of the blame has been placed at the feet of Álvaro Saborío, who has yet to open his account in the 2011 season. But that’s the life of a high-profile striker — when things are going well, you bask in the glory; when they are not, you are the one left to answer to the critics.
Something critics may have missed is that “Sabo” is coming off offseason knee surgery and is still searching for his form from a year ago.
“I’m at the same point that I was at with Robbie [Findley] a season ago, and Yura Movsisyan two seasons ago,” head coach Jason Kreis said at training this week. "These guys go through it.
“I think the life of a striker is very up and down,” he continued. “There’s going to be some moments where everything works for you, and there’s going to be some stretches where nothing works for you. But you have to continue to believe and you have to continue to do all of the little things to get yourself into scoring chances and to continue to help your team in other ways.”
That randomness can be frustrating for a striker. But according to midfielder Will Johnson, it’s how you deal with the hand you’re dealt that’s important.
“Usually to the goal-scorers, it’s how you react to that chance and go for the next one and go forward,” Johnson said.
For Kreis, he’s not as focused on the goal count as he is the underlying cause.
“I’m not too overly concerned with the lack of goal scoring over the last four games,” he explained. “What I’m more concerned with is some of the details that I’m seeing.”
While he wouldn’t elaborate on exactly what those details are, Kreis likes what he has seen in terms of addressing them of late.
“You need to continue to be happy with the amount of work they are putting in because, for me, over the past two weeks, Sabo’s work level has increased and he’s putting himself in better positions to get goal scoring chances,” Kreis said. “I just think it’s a matter of time.”
Johnson is a player that may help to step up and produce for the team, given his credentials.
“I came here as a guy who had scored a lot of goals playing in the reserves over in Holland,” said Johnson. “I know I have that in me.
“Everything has gone through Javier,” Johnson said of the team’s attacking focus since he arrived, “and my role was to be more defensive and help out that way. Nobody has told me that my role is going to change, so I still have to do the defensive work. But at the same time, I’ll be conscious when a game is 0-0 to see if I can get up there and nick one because I know that I’m capable of scoring goals.”
Johnson scored the game-winner against Chivas USA two weeks ago. Whether it’s him or one of his teammates who helps to change the tide, they’ll hope to change their fortunes this Sunday at FC Dallas (7 pm ET, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live).
“I think we’re trying so hard to score right now that we’re putting a little too much pressure on ourselves and over-thinking things, and that leads to missed chances,” analyzed Johnson. “Once we get the ball rolling and get things flowing again, I think the goals will come.”