Lehi, Utah - Consistency has been a big key to the success of Real Salt Lake this season. It was a focus of theirs coming into the season, and they have been able to play at a high level throughout the season without experiencing the customary low points that most clubs endure.
Defender Tony Beltran feels like familiarity has been one of the keys. “We’ve been together for a couple of years, and we know each other. We know what the coaches want and they’ve done a really good job this year of getting us prepared for the season.”
As consistent as his own team has been, Coach Jason Kreis feels like that has been a key trait for their opening round opponent, FC Dallas.
“Consistency has to do with consistency,” the RSL Coach said. “You get consistent results when you stay with a consistent group of players. [FC Dallas] have a very solid foundation with how they want to play which I think is dictated by their coach. And they’ve accumulated a very good level of talented players. At the end of it all, it’s a player’s game.”
Chris Wingert agrees, and expects to see a good battle in this match. “I think we both have good teams,” the RSL defender told MLSSoccer. “None of that really matters now, because we’re going to have to play them, and they are going to have to play us, and both teams know that it’s going to be a challenge to get through the first round.”
Composure has been another hallmark of this Real Salt Lake team this season, as they have shown the capacity to fight back, no matter what the odds. Coach Kreis feels like this composure has been strengthened through the difficult schedule and tough situations they’ve found themselves in this season.
“To have played so many games, and so many different circumstances – you play some of these CONCACAF games and a draw is always good enough on the road. You play a game down in Mexico where we go with a real aggressive mentality, and we learn a lesson from that. A couple weeks later we go to Toronto, recognize that a draw is good enough, and we get it. And so there have just been so many scenarios that our team has been placed under, and succeeded, that I think it’s going to benefit us in the playoffs.”
This composure that the team has shown likely has its roots in one thing: confidence.
According to Wingert, “We’ve remained confident even when things aren’t going our way.”
Perhaps nothing demonstrates that like the season finale against Colorado, when the team appeared out of it trailing by two goals late in the match, but managed to come back as a result of two stoppage time goals by Alvaro Saborio for a 2-2 draw.
One piece of news that may help their confidence, and their chances, is the late news coming out of today’s practice that midfielder Will Johnson looks likely to be available for selection for tomorrow’s encounter in Dallas. The youngster is well known for always wanting to be out there on the pitch, and appears to have willed himself back from a hamstring strain. He was officially listed as questionable on the injury report, but according to an RSL representative, he is “closer to probable” than doubtful, and he participated fully in today’s training session.
This is good news, for Real Salt Lake, who will look to start their title defense tomorrow on a positive note.
Beltran wrapped up the sentiments of the team this way, “The mindset is good. The team looks good, looks sharp. We’re ready to go.”