When asked a routine question after practice about how the team responds when midfielder Javier Morales is not on the pitch, Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis dropped a revealing nugget of information.
“The question for us I think as a coaching staff is whether we want to continue to play the way that we have established and that we think is best for the team when we lose a guy like Javier,” Kreis said. “Or should we consider playing a little bit of a different tactical formation?”
The availability of RSL’s playmaker is in doubt for Saturday against Toronto FC as Morales is currently suffering from strep throat. This comes after he missed a match two weeks ago with a groin injury and came on as a second half substitute during this past weekend’s game in Columbus.
The RSL coach feels that the play in the midfield has been solid in the absence of Morales, but that the team has not been able to collect the points.
“If you look at the results when Javier [Morales] has gone out and when Ned [Grabavoy] has gone out, we haven’t gotten the results to prove that we should continue to play the way we want to play,” Kreis said. “But if you look at it a little bit more finely – more detailed – I would say that we have played good soccer in those games.”
To be clear, Kreis did not indicate that the club intends to change its style any time soon.
“Some of the answers are still to be determined,” he said. “I think right now the answer is yes, we’ll move on, but that answer could change here over the next several weeks.”
Kreis feels that the team lacks in one key area when Morales is not on the field.
“I still think our possession is good but what we do in the final third is what’s affected most when Javier is not on the field.”
What tactical changes could be considered is both unknown and premature. The team has historically played a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield, but also flirted with a 4-3-3 formation in 2009.
The answer could come as early as this Saturday against Toronto FC.