MONTERREY, Mexico – Jason Kreis wants to clarify the comments that he made on Monday: Real Salt Lake will be going for the win in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League finals (Wednesday, 10 pm ET, Fox Soccer, TeleFutura).
“To be clear, we’re not going into this match saying, ‘Guys, it’s OK if we lose,’" RSL's head coach said Tuesday. "We’re always an aggressive group. We’re always a confident group, and we’ll approach this match the way we have the others, we’re here to win.”
The comments about a draw or even a one-goal loss made on Monday were out of practical considerations, ones based on the knowledge and belief that RSL have a strong advantage at Rio Tinto Stadium for the return leg – a place where the team has not lost in the last 36 outings.
The comments also were the thoughts of a coach to a team that may feel the weight of participating in a finals match in foreign soil if they don’t approach it with the right mind set.
“I’m attempting to ease some of the anxiety and pressure in the match,” admitted Kreis.
He went on to add what an accomplishment a victory would be.
“It would be massively huge," Kreis said. "If there’s one thing that stands out to me about this team, it’s how many firsts we’ve accomplished so far. And so I would absolutely love to be the first MLS team to win in Mexico.”
Of course, Real Salt Lake were nearly the first themselves when they nearly defeated Cruz Azul in the CCL group stage last fall, but eventually lost 5-4 in monsoon-like conditions. That experience gave the team confidence, says midfielder and team captain Kyle Beckerman.
“We were so close down there,” he recounted. “We want revenge from that game, even though it’s not Cruz Azul. We want the chance to do better than we did last time.”
And that, Beckerman says, does not include playing for a tie or a one-goal loss.
“I think everyone would be devastated back home if we came out and got crushed," he said. "We have to put on a good performance, but for us we’re thinking of winning. We want to be the first to win, and we want to put our name on that – being the first [MLS] team to win in Mexico.”