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Sandy • Coach Jason Kreis says he's trying to focus on performances this season, not so much cold, hard results. Relentless attention to the small details is what he believes will pile up and make the difference in the end for Real Salt Lake.
But it was the failure to attend to one small detail that doomed an otherwise strong performance by RSL in its 1-0 loss to Chivas USA on Saturday night, and the loss of three points at home to a previously winless team that had never won at Rio Tinto Stadium is just the kind of result that a team can come to rue at the end of a season.
"We're not used to being frustrated at home," Kreis said.
After all, RSL once forged a 29-game home unbeaten streak, and regards its stadium as a fortress. But it has actually lost two of its past four regular-season home games dating to last season, and now faces the challenge of playing its next three games in a seven-day span.
"Everybody still has confidence in themselves," goalkeeper Nick Rimando said.
That's especially true because despite renovating much of its reserves roster this season, RSL seems to have cultivated a new depth that will keep it from dropping off, even when tough stretches like the one coming up force coaches to juggle the lineup.
"We've got some guys now that started in the first two games and have to feel good about their contribution and have a little bit of experience in their belt," Kreis said, "and that should put us in a good place for the next three matches."
Defender Nat Borchers might return to the lineup for the first time all season when RSL plays at Portland on Saturday, while forward Alvaro Saborio and midfielder Javier Morales are coming ever closer to starting for the first time after coming off the bench in all three games so far.
After meeting the Timbers, the team plays the expansion Montreal Impact at home on April 4, before concluding the tough stretch against rival Colorado at home April 7.
Meanwhile, both Rimando and defender Chris Schuler took blame for mistakes on the play that led to the winning goal for Chivas.
Rimando said he should have punched away a high cross into the box that he attempted to catch, only to lose his grip when he collided with Schuler and Chivas' Casey Townsend, who then poked the loose ball home easily.
Schuler said he should have "done a lot better" to win the cross, and Kreis said there "might have been a little miscommunication" between Schuler and Rimando, "because I think they're going for the same ball. Ultimately, they probably caused the error themselves and then it falls down to [Townsend] in the box."
Either way, that's one of those small details RSL hopes to better attend to as the season marches on.
RSL at Portland
P Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV • Ch. 4