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Sandy • Any team can look back each weekend, as Jeff Cassar explains and, "feel like you got hard-done or you got away with something." The Real Salt Lake coach is firmly camped in the area of the former.
In the main hallway at Rio Tinto Stadium Tuesday afternoon, Cassar leaned against a wall and sounded off on early-season officiating in Major League Soccer. With Burrito Martinez joining Kyle Beckerman and Jamison Olave as players who will serve one-game suspensions at Sporting Kansas City on April 2, Cassar said each foul that resulted in an ejection or later suspension was not clear-cut in his mind.
"But at the end of the day, you need 11 bodies on the field to finish games," Cassar explained. "Are we an undisciplined team? Absolutely not. Are we getting caught right now for choices that we're making? Yeah. But when you need to finish the game with less than 11 people, the game is big, guys are tired, there's more spaces, you're fatigued [and] that's going to be a focus. I don't think all those [fouls[ need to even be red cards."
Yet, they were.
Which leaves still-unbeaten RSL (1-0-2) short-handed against one of its most bitter of rivals next Saturday night.
"It's life," Cassar said. "I feel bad for the guys, because I know that there was no intent. But it's clear as day: The league is trying to send a message … as long as [referees] do it for everyone every single game, I don't have a problem with it. It's picking and choosing when they're going to show example of this as a suspension, then I'll have a big problem with it."
Right back Tony Beltran said the red-card trend can't be allowed to continue.
"I don't think it's anything to really worry about yet," Beltran said. "I think everybody knows we can't make this a habit."
"We don't want to make that a habit of being that defensive, that bunkered in because of red cards or whatever scenario late in games," he later added. "What I think we need to learn is just how to kill the game off."
As players nurse injuries and with numbers dwindled due to international call-ups, Cassar said there will be no second-guessing who to take to Kansas City on April 2.
"I think we're going to literally take every player that we have healthy for this game," he said.
The detailed injury report goes as follows: Yura Movsisyan (adductor strain), Javier Morales (rib contusion), Olmes Garcia (ankle sprain), Phanuel Kavita (MCL injury), Boyd Okwuonu (concussion). Movsisyan and Morales are expected to be back to 100 percent by the end of the week, Cassar said.
The Real Monarchs season opener Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium will also feature a number of RSL first-teamers needing to knock the rust off and play some competitive minutes.
Potential ripple effect?
Not exactly over-the-moon seeing the rival Colorado Rapids acquire U.S. star goalkeeper Tim Howard, Cassar said the quality of acquisitions in MLS continue to improve across the board. And RSL's coach maybe provided some foreshadowing when it comes to the MLS allocation ranking order.
RSL is currently No. 4 on the MLS allocation ranking list a list of select U.S. men's national team players, youth U.S. national team players and former MLS players returning to the league after joining a non-MLS club for a transfer fee greater than $500,000.
"We're going to have that opportunity when we start getting to the top of the allocation [process] and when we can add a national-team player to our team, I think we're going to do it at the drop of a hat," Cassar said.