Quote Sheet: RSL 1-0 Portland Timbers

Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jason Kreis

On handling the early pressure at the beginning of the game:

“Yeah, our objective was to try to reverse things a little bit. Put them under some pressure, but it’s hard to when they were throwing both their outside backs forward and playing us direct as they were. I thought that they did a really good job of gaining the momentum early in the match. I thought they did a really good job of creating some chances, they were dangerous on dead balls, and put us under. So certainly had me nervous for long stretches of that first half. But the goal that we scored was so critical.”

On how poised the team played:

“Yeah, I think it was pretty poised. I think when you have guys like [Nick] Rimando, [Nat] Borchers, [Kyle] Beckerman, [Javier] Morales, [Ned] Grabavoy, there’s enough experience out there that have been through so many critical matches in really difficult places, that I think they’ve been through every scenario possible, and they handled it well.”

On how the first goal affected the rest of the match:

“You know, they say in soccer, and I believe it’s true, especially in our league, that the first goal matters so much in games. I think the percentage for the team that wins games that scores the first goal is off the charts, really, in our league. And then you enter a match like this where you’re already up two, and I think that first goal becomes ten times as important. If Portland scores the first goal, they’ve got all the momentum, they’re on their home field, they’ve got their fans behind them. I think that we would’ve been in a really, really tough place. If we score the first goal, now it’s 3-0, and now they get a little desperate, some heads are hanging, and there’s some frustration involved. Great that we got the goal, probably wasn’t the prettiest one we’ve ever scored, but we’ll take it, and I thought we handled the match pretty well from there.”

On explaining how Real Salt Lake has never lost to Portland:

“I can’t really explain it. I honestly can’t. I think that the teams are very evenly matched. I think every game feels to me to be very even. I think that we do a pretty good job of exploiting the spaces that are there, and we have the players in the right spots to take advantage of that situation. We’ve scored some goals at critical moments. I think that they haven’t scored some goals at critical moments that they probably should have. So I feel like it’s more of just a being fortunate situation, more than anything else.”

Any keys to the series win:

“Not really. Again, I think that we have played in this system for so long. We have so many players that have played in this system for so long, and have played together for so long, that I think that they just have an innate sense of where they need to be at all times. When we have the ball, when we don’t have the ball, in transition, and I just think that we play to our strengths really well. We know our weaknesses, and we have tactically smart enough players to take advantage of the opponents’ weaknesses, as well.”

On Robbie Findley coming up big in the playoffs after a scoring drought:

“I’ve said it all year long, that we brought Robbie Findley back because he’s capable of scoring a goal in the biggest moments. We’ve had forwards over the past couple of years that, frankly, score the goals in the soft games, but not necessarily when all the chips are down. Robbie’s waited for the exact right time to find his best form, for sure.”

How it feels to be back in the MLS Cup after four years:

“I think for me, the most rewarding thing is not about getting back to the MLS Cup. The most rewarding thing is that finally this group has won a trophy. Another trophy. Frankly, in my honest opinion, and I’m sure it’s not everybody’s – This team deserves more trophies than they have. They’ve put themselves in a position to win so many times, and it’s just been unfortunate not to. So I think that this is a very deserved trophy. Both, for what we have done over the regular season and certainly in the playoffs, but more so for what we’ve done now for five years in a row.”

On starting Grabavoy rather than Velasquez, who had been playing well:

“There’s no doubt about it [Velasquez playing well]. And I said, it’s a good thing to have players that play really well that don’t start. It’s a good thing to have players that have played really well that didn’t make the 18. We had three players that didn’t make the 18 tonight who have made huge contributions for this group, and huge contributions recently. That’s a good problem to have, and I think that’s where the league needs to be moving towards, so that all the rosters are deeper, to make the decisions tougher on the coaches.”

Putting the playoff run in perspective:

“I honestly just got asked this a little while ago. At the beginning of the season, if we could’ve had this same exact conversation with everybody, I would’ve said we’ll barely make the playoffs, we’re going to be very inconsistent, we’re going to win a game, we’re going to lose a game, we’re going to win two games, we’re going to lose two games. We’re going to have good performances, and then we’re going to turn around and have bad performances. But the team has proven me wrong. And that doesn’t happen too often. I’m usually the one that’s always confident and talking positively even when sometimes they may not deserve it. But truth be known is that they have outlived or outlasted any expectations I’ve had for them, and they’ve now found their form and their self-identity at the exact right time, because we had gone through a month leading up to the playoffs where really I was looking out there going, ‘I’m not sure who these guys are. Seems that they’ve forgotten.’ But it’s more than just belief. It’s working hard. Giving everything you have for the team. And when we do that, we get results, and we got it again tonight.”

The importance of the victory over the LA Galaxy and galvanizing the team:

“It’s massive. It was massive. Because the coaching staff confused things a little bit. The coach got it wrong in the away game against LA. And I think he, again, kind of doubled it up and said, ‘What is our identity?’ to the group. But to go back to our shape, reminders to all individual players about what it would take to succeed against Los Angeles, and they grabbed a hold of the message and went flying. So from that moment on, I think we’ve been great. And we’ll hope we can keep it up for another two more weeks.”

Real Salt Lake MF Kyle Beckerman

On the match:

“This is what everybody strives to do in preseason, when you get together. And here we are. So it feels great.”

On how well the match went, and why it was so relatively easy:

“Well, it wasn’t easy. They’re a tough team. They play great at home, especially, and they’ve done well on the road, as well. They had a great season, and they deserved it. They’re a great team. We knew it was going to be tough, and it was going to take a lot of focus, effort. I think when we scored that goal, if we were able to get to halftime at three goals up, that it was going to be really tough for them. So I think the focus was there. We were able to really find the holes, find space, because they were pushing forward, and that’s the way the game was. Fortunately, we didn’t give up a goal, and that helps as well.”

If absorbing the initial attack and energy and flipping it was part of the game plan:

“Well, I think it’s just natural, the way the game is going to go, being up two goals, them at home. They’re feeling the crowd’s presence and kind of pushing them forward. So I think that’s just the way the game was going to be, and you’re going to have to defend and defend. They bring four, five guys. They attack with that many players, so we knew if we’re able to win it, and complete a pass after that, then we’re going to have quite a bit of space to get after them.”

On returning to the MLS Cup after four years:

“It feels great. I think anytime when you get in the playoffs, you have a legitimate shot. We’ve just kept at it, kept at it, and I think we learned from the past, losing some games, we learned from it. We had chances where we had to come together, or just falter, and we came together, and here we are.”

On Coach Kreis’ comments on the team needing to re-find its identity after the LA game:

“Yeah. Yeah, I guess so. If that’s what he said.”

Different point-of-views?:

“No, I mean – I don’t know. Watching the games, we didn’t play our way. We went awry. We didn’t play the way we play. And that’s a 4-4-2 with a diamond in the midfield. And in that game, we didn’t. But, whatever. That’s in the past, and I think playing that way, we learned a lesson. We said we’re not going to do that anymore in the playoffs, and probably never again. But, yeah. It helped us get this far.”

On the season’s only meeting with Sporting KC:

“I was away. I was with the Gold Cup. I think there was four of us gone. We’re looking forward to playing them.”

On the importance of Robbie Findley finding his form right now:

“If Robbie’s healthy, I’ve said it for years – He makes our team a different team, and he makes our team the team that we want to be, and that we were in ’09, and what we built from ’08. He brings a different dynamic, he’s unselfish, such a team player. And Robbie’s the type of guy, he doesn’t need to score, and he can have a great game. And when he scores, as well, he makes us a much better team. “

Real Salt Lake GK Nick Rimando

On the emergence of Chris Schuler with Nat Borchers in front of him:

“Fantastic. Getting him back was huge for us, you know. We had a lot of different pairings during the season. And we missed him, he got injured, and having him back has been huge. He’s just a big presence pack there. Wins a lot of head balls for us. But also he talks. He’s a big organizer, and him and Nat together are very good, and I’m happy he’s back.”

On getting to the MLS Cup:

“It feels great. We wanted to come here and win. We didn’t want to come here and drop back and lose 1-0. We wanted to come in here and get a result. We’ve done it before, in the past, and the guys in this locker room have the confidence to go in there and do that. As a result, I think we deserve to be in the Cup. We fought hard, not just this game, but the first leg against Los Angeles. The commitment from all these guys, that they put in, has been paying off, and it feels great. We’re going to enjoy tonight, but we know we have a tough, tough task at hand playing against Kansas City.”

On the tide turning after the first goal, and their game plan after that:

“We knew we were going to have to absorb some pressure from them. They were going to come out flying, just like we did at home. They missed a great opportunity on a corner kick. We slowed the game down a little bit, but we knew we were going to get opportunities, and once we scored, I think the crowd calmed down a little bit. I think they were on their back studs a little bit when that happened, and it gave us the opportunity to play a little bit more the way we wanted to play.”

On Sporting KC and what he expects to see in the MLS Cup:

“Great team. A team that likes to press. A team the guys go forward, counter attack. Very organized, good defense. A team that’s going to be playing at home. So we’ve got to be prepared, but again, this gives us a lot of confidence going into a tough environment, a great environment, and getting a result. So if we could ride this wave into the final, and bring the confidence and the work rate and the discipline and commitment that we’ve had here, it’s going to be a great game and we have a good chance of getting a result.”