SANDY, Utah – When Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis fills out his lineup for Wednesday's Lamar Hunt US Open Cup game against the Charleston Battery, there are two positions where he can’t go wrong – the forwards.
RSL’s all-time leading scorer Álvaro Saborío is away with his Costa Rican national team, but unlike past years where that may have meant a long 90 minutes, the cupboard is hardly bare. The four remaining forwards – Joao Plata, Robbie Findley, Devon Sandoval and the reigning MLS Player of the Week Olmes García – are all in terrific form at the moment and putting in the extra work expected of them from Kreis for the team to be successful.
“It is so critical to the way that we play and the way that our forwards put in that type of effort to gain us ground,” the coach said after their 3-1 win over the LA Galaxy last Saturday night. “Even if they don’t win the ball, if they’re up there pressing defenders to knock the ball over their own end line, or over the sideline, now we’ve gained a ton of space. And as good as we can be in possession, that means a lot. If we can be in their half the field possessing it and creating chances, that means a lot.
“Hats off to all the forwards,” Kreis continued. “I think they’re all working extremely hard and they’ve all had moments the past several weeks where they’ve been excellent. I think we’re in a good place at that position.”
All four forwards played in last Saturday’s game, so nobody should be too concerned about fatigue, especially with the team off in MLS play until a June 22 game against the Seattle Sounders.
“The break after the game on Wednesday alleviates my thinking about the fatigue levels,” said Kreis. “… I have a feeling they’re all going to want to play because I think they’re as hungry for this tournament as I am. We’re all very much aligned in it this year with a little bit of a different approach to it this year.”