SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake were able to get a 2-0 result against FC Dallas in league action on Saturday night and, according to head coach Jason Kreis, possession was the key.
“We made it a big area of focus and emphasis on keeping the ball tonight,” said Kreis. “I feel like Dallas is a very counterattacking oriented team, and if we could keep the ball for long stretches and not lose it in dangerous positions then we would limit the number of chances that they could create against us.
“And the other point was the reaction of the midfielders to get back when the ball turned over and help our outside backs dealing with two very good players in Brek Shea and Jackson,” continued Kreis. “And I think, all in all, everybody did what was asked of them tonight.”
Jersey Retirement Redux
So did Kreis prefer this win or the draw in the prior match, accompanied by the retirement of his number?
“Win games, and win games, 1,100 percent,” said Kreis. “The ceremony I think wore on me a little bit on Monday night, and I think you saw an emotional coach, probably overly emotional and I had some gesticulations and actions and was a little bit too verbal in that match. I think that was all borne out by some of my angst about the ceremony afterwards and wanting to have all three points going into that.”
Speaking of Emotional
If Kreis was a little emotional for the Fourth of July match against New England, striker Álvaro Saborío took that mantle from him on the weekend. The Costa Rican star appeared frustrated with some near chances and, when he was subbed off in the 88th minute against Dallas, he expressed his displeasure by storming off the field and directly down the tunnel to the lockers.
“Sabo was actually a player that I was looking to get off earlier, and you get to the second half and you get that goal advantage and you are starting to think to yourself, ‘Who do we need to get out to make sure that they are ready for Tuesday?’” explained Kries. “And especially a player like Sabo who has had knee injury issues — he was in my mind the whole time to try to rest a little bit.
"Then I thought about minute 80 he looked really tired, so the decision was made to get him some rest for [the US Open Cup quarterfinals vs. Dallas] Tuesday. He obviously wasn’t pleased with it, and I don’t really have any comment past that.”
As it turns out, Saborío was not part of the RSL squad that traveled to face Dallas in USOC action.
A player that continues to emerge is midfielder-turned-striker Luis Gil. The talented 17-year-old has been playing up top for RSL in light of several injuries at forward, and he was arguably the most dangerous player on either side against Dallas. However, he seemed a bit reluctant to take the shot, and Kreis understands why.
“I think the midfielder part, the part that he’s 17 years old, a lot of factors I think go into that. And also because I think he has a ton of respect for the players around him,” Kreis said Saturday night. “So I think he’s often times thinking about, ‘How can I make a goal for somebody else?’ rather than taking the final responsibility.
"He did get himself in some really nice positions tonight, and was a little bit hesitant, especially that one in the second half when he back-heeled to try to get Fabián [Espíndola] through. I felt like that’s a position where you’ve just got to shoot it.”
Gil largely agreed with his coach’s assessment.
“It’s coming,” said Gil. “I’ve just got to keep on, and it will come. It just comes with being more comfortable, and the more [time] I get, the more I understand it.”