SANDY, Utah – Go out and set the franchise record for victories. Top 50 points for the third straight season. Finish second in the Western Conference standings. Make the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season – the longest active streak in the league.
Not good enough, according to Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis.
“I think that all of us felt that we failed,” Kreis said Saturday at the team’s annual media day at Rio Tinto Stadium. “Not just ‘not succeeded,’ but ‘failed.’ I tell the players that we strive for perfection. We’re a victim of our own success.”
The expectations won’t be any lower this season, even after losing three starters and heading into training camp Monday without defender Nat Borchers, who is still about three months away from returning from right knee surgery.
But the addition of striker Robbie Findley, who was with the team during its 2009 MLS Cup-winning season, the re-signing of midfielder Javier Morales, and expected emergence of Chris Schuler and Luis Gil has coaches and players alike ready to add to the team’s trophy case.
“I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves with how consistent we’ve been over the years, and how good we’ve played,” said goalkeeper Nick Rimando. “But we haven’t gotten as many trophies as we’ve wanted. That’s where the ‘failure’ comes into play. … We think we’re on our way up and hopefully we’ll be there again this year.”
Kreis said he expects to have “meaningful” competition at every position, something the club has lacked in recent seasons.
“If the plan comes to fruition, we will have meaningful – and I mean meaningful – and serious competition at every position on the field,” Kreis said. “And that’s what I believe led us to a championship in 2009.”