Jason Kreis likes what he has seen in Real Salt Lake’s preseason preparations, but he does admit that he likely won’t fully know where his team stands until just days before it takes on Columbus in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League starting on Feb. 22.
“In prior preseasons, when you get about a month or five weeks in, you start to feel like you’re really getting ready,” Kreis told MLSsoccer.com after the team’s scrimmage against Seattle on Tuesday. “I think our guys are doing pretty well and I think we’re moving forward, and I think it’s literally going to take up until the last days before the match to feel like we’re fully ready.”
RSL started out Tuesday’s contest in Arizona in a forgettable fashion, conceding a goal just three minutes in. However, they came back to take a 3-2 lead late into the contest before the Sounders converted a penalty kick in the final minute.
[inline_node:327932]Second-year man Collen Warner scored two of the goals, with the third courtesy of a Javier Morales free kick into the upper corner.
“Overall, I was pleased,” said Kreis about his team’s level of play. “Was I ecstatic about it? No. But I’m not aggravated by it either.”
The reports out of Arizona indicated that RSL moved the ball well and maintained the bulk of possession, but they did commit several mistakes.
“There’s obviously some things that we still need to improve upon, mostly with what is happening on dead ball situations,” noted Kreis. “We still weren’t very sharp with those. And we can be better with the ball in the waning minutes of the game. … I think with both of those things, we can be better. But it takes time, it takes training, and we haven’t gotten to some of that yet.”
RSL have encountered some mixed blessings on the injury front this week. First off, striker Alvaro Saborio saw action for the first time since offseason surgery, playing 62 minutes on the afternoon.
“When he came off the field, he said that he felt good,” Kreis said of his Costa Rican Designated Player. “I think he wanted to play more, but it’s obviously extremely important for us to limit him. The goal is not to play 90 minutes right now, but to be able to play 90 minutes two weeks from now.”
Meanwhile, the team received the disappointing news that Fabian Espindola, who had looked extremely sharp early in the preseason, is out a quadriceps strain, an injury he picked up in the scrimmage vs. Vancouver over a week ago.
Defender Chris Wingert (adductor strain) also picked up an injury in training but managed to play about 45 minutes against Seattle. Chris Schuler is still working his way back from surgery on his foot, and both Kyle Reynish (shoulder impingement) and Pablo Campos (knee contusion) sat out the match, but neither is thought to be serious.
The team will look to get those players back into the mix as they remain in the Phoenix area through next Tuesday, when they will have a split-squad scrimmage against Chivas USA as well as their U-18 youth squad.