SANDY, Utah - Real Salt Lake are not looking for excuses as they face a talented Minnesota Stars FC team in the third round of the Lamar Hunt Open Cup on Tuesday. Instead, they are just looking for results.
“The tournament’s important to us,” explained Coach Jason Kreis. “We need to try to succeed in this tournament because we haven’t done it before.”
They showed one commitment to that success by making a financial deal with Minnesota to move the match to the friendly confines of Rio TintoStadium. But they plan on showing that commitment also through their lineup selection.
“I think we should still have another really strong lineup out there,” said Kreis. “I’m going to put out nearly the best lineup that we have possible which some teams wouldn’t do but I’m going to because I think it’s really important to our club.”
Midfielder Ned Grabavoy likes that approach.
“I think it’s the right decision,” he commented after Saturday’s victory against FC Dallas in league action. “I think with not having on a bit of a break and being on our home field and not having to travel. It will be our first choice lineup, but we’re already missing a lot of guys.”
The squad will be missing Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson, Nick Rimando and Alvaro Saborio who are away for international action, and Javier Morales and Chris Wingert are unlikely to start due to injuries.
But Grabavoy doesn’t feel like that should be an excuse for a poor performance.
“There are some young guys that have got to step up now and grow up over the next two weeks because we’re going to need to use a lot of guys that we haven’t used,” he said.
He also dismissed the quick turnaround from a Saturday game.
“It’s difficult because the Saturday to Tuesday is a big difference from the Saturday to Wednesday,” he explained. “Missing that extra day of rest is difficult, but I think we’ve shown during the regular season that guys can recover and do well fitness-wise to make a difference. So I think Tuesday night we’ll be fine. If guys get tired we’ll take them off and put somebody else on.”
The team feels that finally finding success in this tournament is important, and with an 18-day break between this USOC match and their next league game they are hoping to earn another match by advancing.
“With this break that we have, we need games,” admitted Kreis. “So it’s an opportunity for us to win this first round to give ourselves another game to keep ourselves in the flow.”