LEHI, Utah – If you take him at face value, which is usually a good bet, Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis plans to go against his nature with a conservative approach in the Western Conference semifinal series opener against FC Dallas on Saturday.
Conventional wisdom says that in a two-leg playoff series the visiting team will take a cautious approach in the first match, and try to win the series at home.
“This may be one case where I’m conventional,” Kreis said.
Defender Tony Beltran appeared to be on board with a cautious approach.
“It’s the combination of goals both home and away," he said, "and so we’re going to go down there and play smart and try and get a result and put ourselves in a position where we can come back here to Rio Tinto and win it.”
Real Salt Lake’s last loss came on July 17, when they used a 4-5-1 formation and more conservative tactics in the heat of a Dallas summer. After the 2-0 loss to FCD at Pizza Hut Park, Kreis took the blame for the loss and for playing an uncharacteristically conservative game.
The playoff format, of course, does call for a similarly conservative approach for the road teams.
“It’s certainly a 180-minute game, because away goals don’t mean anything more than home goals,” defender Chris Wingert said. “So for us, we just want to go there, play well and hopefully come out with a good result – that’s our main focus right now, and make sure that we have a good chance going into the home leg.”
“I think we have obviously played well throughout the regular season, but at the same time it’s kind of a different season and so you have to reset your goals,” Wingert added.