SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis has been emphasizing it for the past few weeks: Players need to get into the box in order to score.
Forward Fabián Espíndola has been a bit of a conundrum with that philosophy lately. The speedy striker had been dropping back in order to get the ball sooner and then turning into a creator more than a finisher. So with his playmaking skills, but Kreis' desire to get into the box, how should Espíndola play?
How about doing both?
In RSL's 4-0 win over Chivas USA this past Saturday, Espíndola had three assists. By the looks of it, he was playing more like a midfielder, but upon further inspection, that wasn't the case.
"One, two of his assists came when he was in the box, and one when he was just outside the box," said Kreis, “so he is getting into some pretty good spaces now.”
The coach also felt like the rest of the team, as well as Espíndola followed the game plan and did the things he asked of them on the pitch.
"I think it is a function of just how well our team played," added Kreis. "When we have the ball for longer stretches of time and when we make good decisions quickly with the ball, it will often mean we will get the ball to somebody with time and space to run the ball forward. So I think it was a function of how well the rest of the group played, and also how well Fabián put himself in the right spaces to be able to collect the ball and run at players."
While strikers are paid to score goals, the left-footed Argentine has never really cared about filling up the stat sheet. In fact, as long as there is a W in the end, it wouldn't bother him at all if he never was the one finishing things off.
"Of course, if my team is going to win," he said of preferring to pick up assists rather than score. "I think I have more assists than goals in my life. It is the way I like to play. I want to touch the ball a lot. I don't care, sometimes if I play good, I don't care if I score. Other people care, you know, those who talk too much, but I don’t."