When a team needs a season-defining moment it will often rely on its star to generate a big moment. For Real Salt Lake, Damir Kreilach hasn’t just come up in one big moment, he has played provider to galvanize the team and its fanbase on several occasions when the Club has needed it most.
His latest heroics – a stoppage-time winner to clinch a spot in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs – marked one of the most memorable goals not only in RSL history, but in all of Decision Day history and proved all doubters of the ownerless Club wrong amid uncertainty.
Speaking with SiriusXM FC’s Counter Attack with Brian Dunseth and Tony Meola, Kreilach reflected on what it meant to make the playoffs with the final kick of the regular season, on the final day of the regular season and spoke about the team’s resilience and mentality as it looks ahead to the playoffs.
“That moment was just beautiful for everyone involved and everyone that watched at home. It was even more special after we played San Jose and Portland at home and lost and that made a lot of people doubt us,” Kreilach said. “When the ball hit the net, I did check to see if I was offside, but the referee didn’t throw his flag up – luckily – and well, the rest if history. At the end of the day, it’s what this team deserved.”
Subscribe to SiriusXM FC to hear Brian Dunseth, Tony Meola among others discuss all things MLS Cup Playoffs and all the latest news surrounding world soccer by clicking here.
Faced with wave after wave of adversity over the last two years, RSL as a team and organization has responded with a “Never Say Die” attitude and has always risen to the occasion to overcome the obstacles it faced. The attitude and embodiment of what the Club stands for at its core was never more apparent ahead of the team’s visit to rival Sporting Kansas City needing nothing short of a victory with its back against the wall to secure its place in the postseason, in a venue that held one of the team’s greatest heartbreaks in December of 2013.
“During our pregame meeting we had obviously tried to prepare ourselves the best that we could and in that meeting, Pablo [Mastroeni] showed us a video that was a huge inspiration to us as a group. Then, on the way to the stadium the text that all of us received from Justin Meram showed exactly what we feel as a team in unity. This year we were faced many walls and each time we broke through those walls and showed how mentally strong we are as a team. In a crucial moment, we then showed our quality as a group when a lot of people doubted us,” Kreilach explained.
Riding the momentum of its dramatic entrance into the postseason, courage among the group is evident as it prepares to face Seattle Sounders FC (FS1 / FOX Deportes; TSN / TVA Sports; ESPN700 and La Gran D radio) in the first round.
“Right now, we have more belief that ever. A game like the one in Kansas City really brings everyone at the Club together, not just the players. We have all felt the fans energy through both the good times and the bad and right now you really feel the belief within everyone who is with this Club. We’re going to carry all of that belief with us into Seattle,” Kreilach said.
Looking ahead to its match against Seattle, RSL knows it will be no easy task despite Sounders FC failing to secure a win in its final six matches of the 2021 regular season. Knowing what Seattle is capable of – especially at a raucous Lumen Field –
“I have to say and everyone who watched us knows this, but we played out our regular season and it wasn’t an easy schedule,” Kreilach said. “Knowing that we still have what it takes to do something great after the game in Kansas City gives us a lot of confidence going into Seattle. For now it’s about resting and taking care of ourselves to prepare the best that we can because it’s going to be a difficult game against a difficult Seattle team.”
Real Salt Lake will kickoff its Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs on Tuesday, November 23 at 8:30 p.m. MT. The match will be broadcast live nationally on FS1 / FOX Deportes in the United States, TSN / TVA Sports in Canada and locally on ESPN700 and La Gran D radio.