MLS • Team is feeling the pressure heading into away game.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Coach Jason Kreis would prefer to "look at the glass as half-full," with his Real Salt Lake team off to a 5-1-1 start that surely every other team in Major League Soccer would love to have compiled.
But it sure is hard when the team has been so impotent lately.
Once the most ruthless scoring machine in the league, RSL has scored just one goal in its past four games in all competitions, and has gone 1-1-1 in its past three league games while coping with its elimination from the CONCACAF Champions League and the devastating loss of injured midfielder Javier Morales.
The "funk," as Kreis has called it, has grown so bad that even an upcoming trip to FC Dallas on Sunday RSL has never won there, against the team that eliminated it from the playoffs last season seems like it might be the solution.
"I do think that an away game sometimes can lift that" scoring slump, Kreis said, "where you don't feel like the onus is on you to create, you don't feel like the onus is on you to dictate the tempo of the game, and you shouldn't feel the onus is on you to score the goals. So maybe if we just take a little of the pressure off, things will come."
It won't hurt that FC Dallas will be without its star playmaker, too, with midfielder David Ferreira having also been knocked out by a reckless tackle from behind.
But RSL admittedly is feeling the pressure and is desperate to figure out how to thrive without Morales. At least, its defense has remained almost impenetrable; the team has allowed just two goals in its seven league games.
"I think we're trying so hard to score right now that we're putting a little too much pressure on ourselves and overthinking things and obviously that leads to missed chances," said midfielder Will Johnson. "Once we get the ball rolling and get things flowing again, I think the goals will come."
Forward Fabian Espindola was back training fully in the rain at Xango Field on Wednesday, after missing the uninspired scoreless draw against Houston at home last weekend with back spasms.
"That's a very good sign for us," Kreis said.
But forward Paulo Junior has not yet recovered enough from his hamstring injury to return to practice, leaving RSL still shorthanded up top.
Forwards Alvaro Saborio and Arturo Alvarez are expected to join Johnson with their respective national teams for the 2011 Gold Cup that runs from June 5 to June 25.
The departure dates are not all set, but the team is hoping the players can stay through its home game against the Seattle Sounders on May 28.
Saborio will play for Costa Rica, Johnson for Canada he will meet the U.S. in a group stage game June 7 in Detroit and Alvarez for El Salvador. The Costa Ricans and Salvadorans will meet in a group-stage game June 9 in Charlotte, N.C.
And though Costa Rica will replace Japan as a guest team at the Copa America in South America in July, an RSL spokesman confirmed Saborio will not be part of its roster for that tournament.
Real Salt Lake at FC Dallas
R Sunday, 5 p.m.