LEHI, Utah — Real Salt Lake are on an uncharacteristic skid. They’ve lost four out of the last five, something that hasn’t happened since the summer of 2007 when head coach Jason Kreis was beginning to assemble this current squad after taking over from John Ellinger earlier in the season.
But it’s important to keep a proper perspective in these trying times.
“We just all need to take a deep breath, and not panic,” midfielder Will Johnson told MLSsoccer.com after Tuesday’s training session. “Obviously we’ve had some bad results over this past stretch, but we didn’t just turn into a bad team overnight.”
Teammate Kyle Beckerman points out that his squad is still in fifth place in the Western Conference with 36 points, five points back of the fourth-place Colorado Rapids with four games in hand. Although it’s hardly where they want to be, it’s also certainly not the bottom of the pile.
“That’s just the way soccer is,” Beckerman said. “It’s so up and down. You win a game and you’re on top of the world. The fans think you’re the greatest. You lose a game, and everybody thinks you need this, or you need that. You’re only as good as your last game.”
According to Beckerman, there is still work to be done, but he feels like dwelling too much on the recent negatives could be harmful.
“If we let it get to us too much then it’s going to affect our next game,” he said in reference to the club's match against Chivas USA on Saturday.
RSL have been coping with multiple injuries and absences. Among the walking wounded are central defender Jámison Olave, who has been out of MLS action since July 23 against the San Jose Earthquakes, while a recent wrist fracture will also hold defender Chris Wingert out of action.
“I think that’s contributing to the results, but that’s not a viable excuse,” Johnson insisted. “We’ve gotten away from the things that we’re good at that help us grind out and help us get points. I felt that the past couple of games we haven’t been willing to do everything possible to walk off the field absolutely out of energy to get a result. I think we’ve come up a little short with closing out games.”
“We’re still a good team,” Johnson continued. “We just have to get back to hard work and our humble beginnings, and the basics and all that kind of stuff. I don’t think anything has changed. We’ve still got a confident group of guys.”
However, Johnson did admit that since they’ve been forced to use a younger squad to fill in for missing players, they’ve perhaps faced one consequence of that youth movement.
“As a young player it’s hard to be consistent every week,” Johnson explained. “I think that’s the final thing that comes with experience of playing games. That’s why you need the veterans to come in who can bring it for 90 minutes every week. We haven’t had that lately.”