Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jeff Cassar knew well in advance of Saturday’s match with Sporting Kansas City that he wouldn’t be dealing with his full complement of players. Already with three players out due to suspension, Javier Morales and Nick Rimando were on shaky ground with nagging injuries. So the gameplan was formulated as the weeks progressed leading up to the match and by the time things kicked off at Children’s Mercy Park, Cassar had grown so confident in his team that he stated before the match that RSL wouldn’t just be seeking a result against rival Kansas City, but the full three points.
That confidence was fueled by a hearty belief in his roster, but also in how the team responded during the week’s training sessions.
“It actually started earlier in the week. We knew we were going to have to make some changes to the lineup and we were trying to prepare those guys as best as we could. I really liked how they were jelling. They were buying into what we wanted to do defensively and then once we won the ball what we wanted to do offensively,” Cassar said on ESPN 700’s Bill Riley Show Tuesday. “Then later on in the week it just seemed like everyone knew their roles and what was going to be asked of them. Then when the game started, they were doing it. You could just see that if they continued that it was going to frustrate Kansas City and I think as the game went on they did get frustrated.”
With a starting lineup with five changes from the previous week’s 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers earning a hard-fought road victory, Cassar was asked if those players remain in contention for starting roles in coming weeks.
“I hope to think that I leave competition open all the time,” he answered, noting that player like Justen Glad and Luke Mulholland, Saturday’s goalscorers, as well as John Stertzer, Jordan Allen and Jeff Attinella put themselves in positions to start each week by their efforts in training.
Of those five, Glad had the least amount of MLS experience, but showed great poise according to Cassar. Early in the match, Glad was beaten by Dom Dwyer on a play, but made a savvy recovery and didn’t let his early mistake affect his play the rest of the way, eventually scoring his first MLS goal.
“A lot of times for a young player, that can put you in that type of mode for the rest of the night where you’re worried about making a mistake,” Cassar said. “Credit to Justen he really rebounded well from that and really played a solid game.”
To hear Cassar’s full interview, click here.