SANDY, Utah — Looking at Real Salt Lake’s results through the first nine games of the MLS season is like the readout of Richter scale after an earthquake.
First up and then down, plateau then canyon, a win followed by a loss. RSL have struggled to find any consistency, going 3-4-2 on the season, and that is a bit alarming considering how steadily successful they have been in recent years.
“We have not strung together two wins this year,” said head coach Jason Kreis following the team’s 2-0 home loss on Saturday to the LA Galaxy. “For me, it’s that we are finding our way a little bit. Unfortunately, I felt that when we’ve had a good performance, we have had a drop off immediately after. That comes from guys just feeling a little too comfortable with what they did, and thinking that they have arrived a little bit.”
Real Salt Lake could possibly blame the inconsistency on all the new faces that have joined the team. But Kreis does not believe that to be a very realistic reason for their struggles, especially with the amount of experienced players still on the roster.
“I’m searching for an answer myself,” said Kreis when asked why there have been so many ups and downs. “But when we have as many veteran players out there as we did tonight: [Nat] Borchers, [Kyle] Beckerman, [Javier] Morales, [Ned] Grabavoy, [Nick] Rimando, [Chris] Schuler now, and [Tony] Beltran, these guys have been around the league long enough that you wouldn’t think they would play inconsistently.
“I’m not making judgments of any individual player, but I think collectively that we have to really build ourselves more up for these games and recognize that in every single match that if we don’t put in everything that we have we will get beat.”
The players are just as confused as their coach as to why they have not been able to play to the level of years past.
“I can’t really put my finger on it,” Grabavoy told reporters after the loss to the Galaxy, “because I think the group we put out tonight, it’s a pretty mature group, guys who have played a lot of games, been in a lot of situations. It just seems that sometimes we don’t deal with a loss or we don’t deal with a win the way that we should. I think coming into this game that we had a great opportunity to kind of get rolling here and get three points against probably the best team in the league, and didn’t do that.”
While perplexing to everyone involved with the team, Real Salt Lake feel that at some point in the near future they are going to be able to string together a long run of good form.
“I think we have to acknowledge we have a lot of new faces, and we’re still trying to figure things out as a group,” said Borchers. “We’ve got a good mix of veterans and young guys in there that should be able to get the job done. It’s going to come.”