SANDY, Utah – In typical Jason Kreis fashion, Real Salt Lake’s head coach wasn’t 100 percent satisfied with his team’s effort in a big 2-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night and said there needs to be improvement.
But he did single out a handful of players for their performances, especially those who aren’t normal starters for the Clarent-and-Cobalt.
“We don’t have second-string players, we have players,” Kreis said, taking exception to that characterization. “[As far as] contributions this year, the three or four that stick out are guys that have been with us for a while.”
One player Kreis pointed to was defender Chris Schuler, who has filled in for the injured Nat Borchers. Schuler saw a heavy dosage of Thierry Henry in the early stages, and then battled against Kenny Cooper down the stretch, holding his ground all along the way.
“Chris has been with us for a while,” Kreis pointed out. “This is his third year, but he’s making a huge contribution at the moment for us.”
RSL’s head coach also singled out Paulo Jr., who had his hand in a number of scoring chances, including providing the key assist on Fabián Espíndola’s opening goal of the match.
“Paulo, who isn’t on the scoreboard for us yet this year, is just doing everything that’s asked,” praised Kreis. “The amount of defensive work that he’s putting in is fantastic.”
Kreis also praised defender Tony Beltran and Ned Grabavoy, who have been in rotations in their respective positions for the last several years, but now may be relied upon more heavily with the departures of Andy Williams and Robbie Russell.
“His position is really carrying the responsibility of not having somebody right behind him pushing him,” Kreis said of Grabavoy. “He’s carrying that very, very well.”
As for Beltran, he was not supposed to start due to a knee injury, but his replacement, Terukazu Tanaka, was suffering from the flu and went to the hospital on Friday with a 104-degree temperature.
“Tony Beltran has stepped forward now in two games, another guy that’s been in a very fluid rotation, who knows that this year we’re going to need more,” said Kreis.
“It was a special night for sure,” said Kreis. “I think that the guys put a pretty solid effort out there tonight, and I’m pretty pleased to walk away with the three points.”