SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake are looking to get back on track Saturday afternoon against Chivas USA (4 pm ET, TeleFutura). In the process, they’ll need to put the disappointments of the recent past behind them.
For midfielder Javier Morales, he feels like that will not be an issue.
“I believe in my team – in my teammates, in my coach, and in our fans,” Morales stated confidently after practice on Friday. “I feel really good. I think we are going to get a good result tomorrow.”
Coach Jason Kreis added that it’s very important to do so.
“One of our goals this year that was stated by all the players is that we want to win the Supporters’ Shield,” said Kreis. “You can’t afford to drop too many games and be a competitor for that, and so we have to move on.”
There has definitely been a much different tone in training this week than in prior weeks. The group that has grown very close over the last couple of seasons and often appears to be light-hearted while still going about their work in practice, has been much more somber and serious this week.
In addition, gone are the cameras and large crowds of reporters that accompanied them in the latter stages of their Champions League run. And gone, too, are many of the accolades coming in from around the league. Now it’s all about business.
“We lost the two games that we played last week,” said Morales, “so now we need to start another tournament in our minds, and start to win tomorrow.”
As for the coach, he’s not sure what to expect. Has his team been able to shrug off the disappointment from a week ago? Have they lost some of the confidence that they had prior to that?
“I honestly think that answer is best given tomorrow,” cautioned Kreis. “It’s taken me a while to learn that it’s foolish to try to judge what you do during the week, and say that’s what’s going to happen on the weekend. What happens on the weekend is the only answer.”
New-Look Chivas USA
In order to get back on the winning track, Real Salt Lake must get the better of Chivas USA, led by former RSL assistant Robin Fraser.
“Robin is going to put together a good team,” surmised defender Nat Borchers. “He was a great coach for us, tactically, and he’s a great motivator. So I think it’s going to be a really tough challenge for us to face our old coach.”
Borchers admitted that their only encounter with the Chivas squad this season was a big challenge.
“We did play them in the preseason, and I was quite impressed by what they had," he said. "They played a 4-3-3 and they really frustrated us in the middle."
And of course, Fraser has the advantage in having a deep familiarity with the RSL players, and probably even an understanding of their game plan.
“He knows our personnel from top to bottom,” said Kreis. “He will know what’s coming at him.”
One player that the RSL staff may need to educate its players about is Chivas newcomer Marcos Mondaini. Ironically, it’s a player that Fraser had scouted when he was still with RSL.
“Mondaini is a technically gifted player,” explained Kreis. “Good attacking mentality, good in the final third of the field. He’s the type of player with qualities that can hurt you at any given moment.”