SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake forward Fabián Espíndola knows that he is paid to score goals, a feeling that matches the common perception that it's a forward's job to put the ball in the back of the net – period.
So during his 10-game scoring drought, people are likely to ask, "What's wrong with Fabi?"
Ask the player and his coach though, and the answer is, "Nothing."
"It doesn't matter how well you play, people are only going to ask if you score or not," Espíndola said. "I don't care. I will just keep working for my team, trying to improve my game and help them, and if the coach decides to play me, I'm going to give everything I have. If I have to be on the bench, I'm going to cheer on my team."
Of course the fans probably wouldn't even be asking many questions if RSL were still winning every week, but since the team has had its share of struggles lately, people are wondering what's going on.
"We are playing good, but it is just a lot of small mistakes," Espíndola said. "If we can find the goal first, we find our rhythm, we are fine, and we are not finding any of that right now. The other teams are good, too, you know. If they find the goals, it is getting too hard for us to tie the game and then go forward."
RSL head coach Jason Kreis feels Espíndola has been playing well and working hard, but knows part of the Argentine's struggles scoring have come about because of his desire to help his team.
"I'm pleased with the amount of work he's put in,” Kreis said. “I'm pleased with the fact it seems like almost everything, all the good parts of our games, the goals and such, the chances he's had some role in. I am frustrated for him, he hasn't scored goals.
"Also, positioning-wise, he's not putting himself in front of the goal. He has got to figure that out a little bit as we go as well because right now, he's dropping off and doing a ton of playmaking, but he's never in the end in the box to score the goals. It will be hard to score unless he gets himself in front of the goal more often."
It is a bit of a catch-22 for the speedy striker.
"I see all of my teammates working so hard that I want to help," Espíndola explained.
But for RSL to be successful, his coach knows it needs either Espíndola or some of his teammates to perform the ultimate goal of putting the ball in the net.
"I give the players a lot of liberty and freedom when we have the ball. I believe they are good enough soccer players to figure it out," Kreis said. "I think he has just innately decided that he wants to drop a little deeper and try to help the midfield create plays, which is good. He has been effective at doing that, but what it means, is we often times, we don't have the right numbers in front of goal.
"We have got to either get him to get forward more and do less in the midfield, or get midfielders to get in the box."