Back on Track? Maybe…By: Rocky Cole | May 7th, 2010
While the start of the 2010 MLS season for Real Salt Lake might not be as bad as their disappointing 2009 start (see file footage above or look at my 2009 posts), it is a far cry from how Coach Jason Kreis wanted his team to open their defense of the 2009 MLS Cup. Let’s face it, there were a lot of critics in the soccer-world who thought RSL’s 2009 title win was a fluke and that the best team in MLS did not hoist the championship cup in Seattle. Some thought LA was the best team in soccer as they surged at the end of the season, and others would have said that the Columbus Crew with the best record in MLS was clearly the best team, but few though the best MLS team was RSL.
With the “Minority Report” I chimed in that RSL figured a way to win without “DPs” and with a tough squad and good coaching. After all, that is why the games are actually played, because “supposed to win” and “won” are distinctly different things. Now and then it comes down to heart and to one or two players that do something extraordinary. At the end of the 2009 season it came down to RSL not giving up no matter who they were playing, Colorado, Columbus, Chicago, and finally LA… and the PK stopping ability of Nick Rimando. Add to that “no quit fight”, injuries on other teams, and luck (which all teams have both good and bad during a season) and you got what you got… RSL was crowned champion.
Real Salt Lake did what it could in the off[season to keep the core of their squad together, and had high expectations coming into 2010. It was clear that Jason Kreis, the players, and the entire RSL organization was aware they had something to prove, and after the opener against San Jose and the 3-0 win, it seemed like RSL was ready for the challenge. Then, a loss in Houston, a tie at home against Seattle, and a loss to LA, and things were not looking great. But what I saw in those games was that RSL was never out of the game. They played all the way through and they were tough matches. Now, with several tough road games done and a home win against Toronto, RSL is looking to build points with a win against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. The Union has not had a bad start for an expansion team, and Chris Seitz will return to RSL as the Union’s starting keeper and will receive his MLS championship ring before the game.
The Union will be looking for an upset in Rio Tinto Stadium, and RSL should expect the Union to come at them from the first whistle as that has been where the Union has found success this season. The kickoff has been moved to 2:00 p.m. Mountain Time so as not to conflict with the Utah Jazz playoff game against the LA Lakers in Salt Lake City on Saturday night.
Was RSL ever off-track this season? Personally, I don’t think so. It’s a long season and you can’t win every game… unless you are the LA Galaxy, that is.