Soccer is a results-driven industry and while Real Salt Lake is happy with two victories in two matches in the 2015 Desert Diamond Cup, those wins aren’t the only way by which Head Coach Jeff Cassar is measuring his club.
“It’s important, but it’s not the goal. The goal isn’t to win this tournament, it’s to keep progressing,” Cassar said after a 3-1 win over FC Tucson on Saturday. “Wins come with how you play and we’re doing enough to win games. In this particular game we could have done something maybe even to lose it and that’s where we need to get better.”
RSL got two goals from forward Alvaro Saborio and a third from forward Devon Sandoval – his third goal of the preseason. Those were among the encouraging signs for RSL as the team builds toward the season-opener on March 7 on the road against the Portland Timbers.
“We need our forwards scoring, that’s for sure,” said club captain Kyle Beckerman. “The main thing is to keep creating chances and if we can continue to do that, hopefully we’ll keep getting sharper and we’ll start finishing them more often. It’s great to get (Saborio’s) confidence going along with Devon getting another goal.”
Where Cassar sees room for improvement on the offensive side is that Salt Lake also had several near-miss opportunities where the quality of play in the final third was lacking. That, he said, will come with more time in training, which is why the final four training sessions this week in Arizona become even more crucial elements in the preparation for the regular season.
“Our sharpness and our final ball wasn’t great, but we’re going to get better with that. Usually the thing that comes last is that final ball. But overall we created a ton of chances,” Cassar said. “We got caught on a couple of mistakes, which is good. Because we need to see where we’re vulnerable. I feel we can still play the way we want to and shore up the defensive end.”
One area that is seeing rapid improvement is the fitness department as everyone on the roster is extending their minutes each week in an effort to build up to 90-minute fitness.
The sharpness continues to improve and players are quickly learning each other’s tendencies. With a match this week against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday and another in the final round of the Desert Diamond Cup on Saturday, they will have two more measuring sticks for progress.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” Cassar said. “That’s for sure.”