Quote Sheet: RSL 4-2 Portland Timbers

Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jason Kreis

On what was different about this particular RSL-POR match:

“Obviously, it was a fantastic start with two goals in the first fifteen minutes – the tempo, the play in the first half, what we were able to do to get at them early on – it changed the whole landscape of the match.  Interestingly enough, the played with three defenders at the beginning, which I think had some tactical consequences.”

On the fear of a letdown after last week’s 4-0 win over Columbus:

“I really wasn’t [worried], but typically I am.  I think, right now, we’re at that time of year where I don’t think you have to be too worried about motivating the players or getting them to respond after too good of a game or too bad of a game.  I think that we all know what’s in front of us.  The opportunity has presented itself for us, and I think that should mean that every game will get our maximum effort.”

On his team’s ability to turn incisive passes in the box into goals:

“When someone has a foot on the ball in the box, they’ve been clinical.  For me, that’s oftentimes the difference between the absolute best teams and the mediocre ones.  What happens around the box is typically clinical for the best teams. Tonight, those first two opportunities – [Joao] Plata’s shot and [Luis] Gil’s shot – were fantastic.”

On his team’s recent offensive outburst of eleven goals in their last three matches:

“I think we need to push the ‘play’ button on the recorder, because it seems like we talk about this every week. I think it’s overall commitment from all of our players, to be really in the attacking mindset, to take some risks, and to be aggressive in the way that we approach the match.  With our forward situation, it’s unbelievable. Unfortunately, we do have one [forward] injured now, so we’re down to four that I really like – hardly should we feel sorry for ourselves.”

On his players’ mindset going into a two-week break before their next match:

“That is the one area that I kept thinking about today – how long two weeks is going to be if we didn’t get a proper result, or a proper efforts from the guys.  I’m really, really pleased that we got a win – an emphatic win – and now we can take a break.  Some guys need a break, including the coaching staff, so we’ll have a few days to collect ourselves mentally and physically, and then we’ll hit it hard for a week and a half, preparing for our next match.  Probably, the guys will be ready to play next Saturday, and they’ll be disappointed when they don’t have somebody to run out against.”

On how his team has been able to enjoy playing, instead of just treating it like work:

“I think, typically, in the middle of the season in June or July or August, you get to that point where you’re so far away from the beginning of the season, when there’s all the hoopla and energy that goes into the beginning of the season.  It does get to feeling like a grind, it’s extremely hot everywhere you go – all those things can factor in to make things difficult and make the energy level pretty low.  Having said that, we got through that pretty well this year.  In prior years, we’ve had really, really bad dips.  This year, it was a small dip, and I think a factor in that is how many players we were missing at that time, as well.  Now, we’re back at it.  We’re towards the end of the season and we’ve got three trophies to win, so I think our guys are up for it.  The final point is that this is a team that’s tighter than any team I’ve ever been a part of – any team I’ve ever been a part of, playing or coaching.  Fantastically together.”

Real Salt Lake FW Joao Plata

On his goal:

“I believe it was very important. I feel happy, but the most important thing is that the team won.”

On his assist to Luis Gil:

“I saw the play. I had two options. Luis and Ned. I took the option with Luis and luckily the play worked. And I’m happy that Luis scored.”

On which he prefers more; assists or goals:

“For me, either way. Goals or assists are important for me, but the most important thing is that the team wins. I want to be able to be a part of a winning team, and for everyone to be successful.”

Real Salt Lake MF Kyle Beckerman

On the offense:

“Just a lot of movement off the ball. I think the guys are hungry for goals. Confident.  I think when you score goals it just breeds more confidence to get even more goals and I think that’s what’s going on right now.”

On leading the league in goals scored:

“I think from the way we ended last year, I think it was a big emphasis this year scoring goals and getting other guys to step up and score, so that’s a focus that we all focused on. It’s good that we’re actually executing.”

On how this game compared to RSL’s two recent matches against Portland:

“They’re really similar I guess. They really press. They try to press, press, press. Like the first game we played them in the Open Cup, we were able to get on them early and get some goals early. It forces them to come out, but they’re a tough team. They have a formation that makes it tough to play against. They’re similar games. They’re hard fought games. We’ve just got to keep trying to improve. Watching tape and continue to have success against them.”

Real Salt Lake MF Luis Gil:

On his Goal:

“It was good that we got it early in the game, and they kept coming. Overall, I think that is was a good confidence booster for me.”

On how the early goal changed the game:

“I don’t think that it changed it too much. They are still going to be aggressive, maybe a little more aggressive, but we got the second goal and that helped out. Two goals is a hard one to keep, and we got a little loose after the second goal and were not sharp, but in the second half we picked it up.”

On how the offense is clicking so well:

“I feel like we are sharp up there, and the ball is moving up there. We are getting a lot of guys involved early. Today we got an early goal, and that gets our forwards going, and that’s a good thing.”

Real Salt Lake MF Ned Grabavoy

Overall thoughts and putting distance between them and the rest of the league:

“We have had similar opportunities a lot of times this year. Obviously, we are at the top of the table now, but we were in some good positions there to put a little bit of space between ourselves and a few of the other teams. So it was good to finally do that because in some other situations we haven’t cashed in on that opportunity.”

On the red card:

“It seemed like it wasn’t really a 50/50, so I was a little surprised that he slid like that. I’m not sure if I hit the ball into him, or he hit the ball into me, but I thought I touched the ball first. My left foot was in the air and I felt him come through the top and middle of my foot. That play changed the game.”

Real Salt Lake MF Javier Morales

On his bicycle kick:

“It was a perfect corner kick from Plata. I think my first touch wasn’t good. So the ball goes up and Sabo told me, “Leave it! Leave it!” but I was there and I was thinking to do the bicycle and lucky for me I scored.”

On scoring more goals this year:

“I think it’s about confidence. When you score a goal you feel more confident. I think, I don’t know, everyone has scored a goal. This year Grabavoy, Plata, Garcia, Saborio, everyone. So that is good for the team, good for confidence. So when we have a chance, we score a goal and that is pretty dangerous for other teams.”

On playing against a different Portland formation:

“I don’t know what they tried to do but when they play like that we see the space. When we have the ball on one side, if you change it quick, they have big space there. If you see the first two goals, we have the ball on the right side, change it to the left side and we score a goal. So I don’t know what they tried to do but it was better for us because we took advantage.”

Portland Timbers

Portland Timbers Head Coach Caleb Porter

Reaction to the match:

“Well, it’s very humbling. That was not fun to be a part of that game. Credit to Salt Lake, they showed why they’re the best team in the league to this point. They punished us and we weren’t good enough to win that game. There were certainly some factors that played into the game. The red card at 2-1 was a pivotal moment. But that’s not why we lost the game. That certainly was a factor, with some guys out we have a younger group that lacks experience. But that’s not why we lost the game. But that certainly was a factor. With some guys out we have a young group that lacks experience. For us to be 2-1 – down a man, in that second half against a team the caliber of Salt Lake who has a lot on the ball, who has dynamic individual players that can hurt you – that was going to be a difficult thing to overcome and in the end we couldn’t overcome it. But the red card wasn’t why we lost the game. We lost the game because we made mistakes, individually and collectively in our defending and they punished us. They deserved to win. We need to evaluate this, every aspect of it, we need to take responsibility for it – not just the players, but myself – and then we need to correct it. Again, it’s very humbling.”

On the injuries:

“Yeah, we obviously weren’t at full strength today and that’s the reality. That’s the reality and you saw that. They got time and space countless times. The first two goals were an example of that. The first two shots were goals. Good teams have good individual players that, again, will punish you. We got beat on a little combination, Gil ran through midfield, we didn’t track him and we got beat 1v1 with Plata getting isolated on one of our central defenders. Those are avoidable situations that happen a lot in games and we have to do a better job of defending, individually and collectively. Again, that was a factor. We had some guys in there that are a bit inexperienced and I think it showed.”

On the red card:

“For me it’s very disappointing. Obviously it was disappointing to be down 2-0 and again, that’s why I’m not going to say that the red card was a reason that we lost because Salt Lake was very good today. For me, to blame the loss on that red card would be unfair. Salt Lake was very good today and they’re a quality team. I tip my hat to them today. They were very good. They were better than us. But when we went 2-1 I thought we started to turn the game and we get into halftime 2-1 at full strength that second half is a different game. So again, I think the biggest thing is losing a man and then having an inexperienced team with a lot of young players. I think we had four or five guys 22 or younger on the field. For them to manage that game when they lack a little bit of experience I think is difficult and you saw that in the second half. I thought it was a harsh, harsh call. Anybody that knows Ben Zemanski knows he’s not trying to hurt anybody and he went for the tackle and he got it late but it wasn’t malicious. I thought it was unfair but you know, refs make mistakes, players make mistakes, coaches make mistakes. There were a lot of mistakes today but that was a pivotal – I think turning point in the game.”

On the physical nature of the game:

“I think because of the fact that we were down a man, I think it got a little out of hand, a little reckless. They go 3-1, now it becomes an open game. There just wasn’t a lot of quality from us today. You know, I was pleased we went 2-1 and I thought we would get back in the game and then after the red card as much as we tried to circle the wagons at halftime and you know, come up with a plan to draw ourselves level down a man, it’s just difficult, especially when you’re playing a team like Salt Lake because they just have so much of the ball and we just really couldn’t get enough of the ball to pull the goal back. Then when they went 3-1, you know, pretty much the game was out of reach.”

On Valeri’s health:

“We’ll evaluate him, not sure what it is, but it’s some kind of muscle pull.”

On all the injuries in the midfield:

“Well, that’s a good question. We’re going to have to look at our group and figure it out. We still have eight games, which is 24 points left. So there’s plenty of points to be good enough to get into the playoffs. As much as many people thought this was do our die, it’s you know, not the case. We knew that and yet, we’re disappointed, very disappointed and humbled and a bit embarrassed that we lost and the margin was as big as it was because we’re better than that. We’re much better than we showed today.”

Portland Timbers DF Rauwshan McKenzie

On Real Salt Lake’s fast start:

“Yeah, anytime you give up two goals that early in a game, you know, having to fight back for it was like maybe 70-75 minutes it’s going to be tough against a good team, especially a team sitting at the top of the league. So yeah, we kind of made it a little difficult for ourselves early on.”

On the injuries affecting the defense:

“With every game there’s going to be mistakes. Obviously against a good team they’re going to punish you. That’s what happened tonight. We just gotta go back, we gotta look at tape and learn from those mistakes and hopefully they don’t happen further down in the season.”

Feelings after the red card:’

“Yeah, we had just scored a goal and it happens right at the end of the first half. We get that red card right at the end of the first half we’re chasing the game, we’re down a goal. We’re against a good team and it’s going to be hard to score another goal, 2 goals if you want to win.”

Portland Timbers GK Donovan Ricketts

On the defensive problems:

“We don’t have a problem. The game sometimes – in a sport it sometimes happens like this. Tonight we had a bad game, we move on we don’t think about it.”

On if injuries played a factor:

“No, we have nothing to blame but ourselves. We weren’t sharp, we weren’t aggressive and against a good team they punish you.”

On how Real Salt Lake got so many open looks:

“I can’t answer that right now. I was in the game. I was caught up in the game like that so we go back and we assess then I can give you a better answer.”

On the physical nature of match:

“I can’t say anything about the referee’s call, but obviously that was the turning point. Real Salt Lake, they like to keep the ball and if they have more numbers than you they’re gonna kill you so when you find two good teams going at it, it’s going to be a physical game. It wasn’t a dirty game, but a physical game which is good for the sport.”