SANDY, Utah — Last week, Real Salt Lake experienced two different games, and two different extremes — or so it appeared to the casual observer.
RSL faced the Red Bulls in New York on Wednesday and jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 21 minutes of the game before coasting to an eventual 3-1 final result. Three days later, RSL fielded a reserve-laden lineup in the nation’s capital and the reverse happened, as D.C. United jumped out to a 4-0 advantage in the first 31 minutes, before finishing with a 4-1 final result.
“Getting that win in New York [was] a huge game for us," said veteran midfielder Andy Williams. "We wanted to make a statement and I thought that we did. But we took the pedal off over the weekend and paid for it.”
However, head coach Jason Kreis always tends to look a bit deeper into matches than just the final score line, and cautioned about the conclusions that one should make from the two matches.
“We went from the top of the world to the bottom of it real quick with our results,” said Kreis, “or at least that’s what everybody would like us to think. We walked away from the New York game really, really pleased with what we did for stretches of the game, and displeased with what we did for stretches of the game.”
So for all the hoopla and praise that RSL received after the convincing win in New York, Kreis felt that perhaps it was a bit overplayed. Conversely, he felt that the crushing defeat at the hands of United was equally blown out of proportion.
“We start the game and we’re doing pretty well,” Kreis said of the D.C. match. “We allow a goal, and we’re still doing OK. We allow a second goal and the whole ball of wax falls apart. But then the reaction in the second half was strong.”
And while Kreis felt that the two games were more similar than at first glance, he did indicate that what he saw last week perhaps might have him shortening up the rotation going down the stretch.
“My takeaway from that is that we learned some stuff about ourselves as a group from one to 20-something,” Kreis said. “We played a lot of players last week, and got to see a lot of guys contribute. I think we’ll have a little bit more [of a] break between games and won’t have to see so much rotation.”