MONTERREY, Mexico — Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis is so confident of his team's home-field advantage that he admits he'd be satisfied with a draw — or worse — in Wednesday's CONCACAF Champions League final first leg against Monterrey (10 pm ET; Fox Soccer).
“A win would be spectacular," Kreis said. "And even a one-goal loss, if we were able to score a goal, would have to be viewed as a positive result because we play very well at home, and it’s a huge advantage for us there.”
The final is broken into a two-leg series with away goals acting as a tie-breaker should the aggregate score be tied. The second leg is set to be played April 27 at RSL's Rio Tinto Stadium, where the MLSers are unbeaten since May 16, 2009.
Kreis made the admission to media on Monday morning after a light practice session. The team arrived in Mexico on Sunday night.
[inline_node:334188]After the session, Kreis also shared his thoughts on RSL's opponents.
“They’re just a very, very good team,” Kreis said of Monterrey. “I think all-around, every player on the field is a quality technical player.
“They play a good brand of soccer. They have some nice attacking players for their two forwards, and I’d say at least three of their midfielders get involved in almost every attack. Their outside backs are good going forward. They represent a significant challenge for us defensively.”
Kreis said Monday that he did not reach out to MLS brethren Seattle Sounders for scouting information on RSL's opponents, despite the fact that Seattle played Monterrey in two Champions League group-stage matches last fall.
“It’s six months, and for me the team could be completely different,” explained Kreis. “We need to rely on our own opinions of the games.”
Kreis and his coaching staff have formed those opinions by looking at plenty of videotape.
“We’ve looked at the recent league matches," he said. "We’ve looked at both the quarterfinal and semifinal – so we’ve got plenty on video so that we feel like we’re comfortable with what they do.”
Although they haven’t yet gone over the video with the players, RSL have started to incorporate what they have learned into their practice sessions.
“Usually the day before the game we go over everything,” explained midfielder Will Johnson. “We haven’t done a video session, but we’ve had lots of training sessions. All of our training sessions are geared around what they are going to do, and how they are going to play. And so while we may not have watched video of specific things, we’ve worked on things that we know that they are going to bring.”
Importance of this series
Where exactly does Kreis rank this CCL finals in terms of MLS' 16-year existence?
“This could be the most important series in MLS history,” he said.
However, he dismissed a couple of notions brought up by the Mexican media. First, he doesn’t believe there is any US-Mexico rivalry here.
“For me, the rivalry is between national teams and has nothing to do with club soccer," he said.
He also dismissed the notion that Monterrey has any advantage due to head coach Víctor Vucetich’s unblemished record in the final of a tournament (7-0).
“That’s a fantastic record, and he should take pride in that,” Kreis said. “I don’t know whether his players would put much confidence in themselves, just because their coach has won everything. I highly doubt it.”