RSL reach end of tough opening stretch

Defending champs lick their wounds after Columbus loss

Real
Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis has referred to the first five games this season
against some of the top competition in the league as a measuring stick of how
strong his club could be this season. 

After
Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Columbus Crew, the defending champs have to be
concerned what to make of Kreis’ postgame assessment as “very, very
discouraged.” 

Watch: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Real
Salt Lake had an opportunity to change the complexion early on in this
match. Álvaro Saborío received a gift
from an ill-advised pass-back to goalkeeper Will Hesmer, but he lost his
footing on the soggy grass and couldn’t get a shot off at the temporarily open
net.

The defending MLS Chp champs can also attribute their rough start to struggling with set pieces. They’ve given
up three penalty kicks in just five games -- capped by Guillermo Barros
Schelotto’s game-winner on Saturday -- and all but two of the seven goals allowed
have come off of free kicks, throw-ins or penalties. 

 “I’m really disappointed that we’ve given up so many
penalties,” defender Nat Borchers said.

Although
Kreis refused to comment on some of the key decisions by referee’s in this one,
Borchers was less tight-lipped.

“There
were some very strange calls in the game,” Borchers said. “And some calls that
would raise some eyebrows to most unbiased fans.”

For
the second straight match, RSL had to improvise with the lineup. Chris Wingert
and Ned Grabavoy were out for the second match in a row, and Javier Morales and
Robbie Findley both came on in the second half, but weren’t deemed ready for 90
minutes of action. Their insertion in
the second half provided a spark as RSL had been chasing the game, but it was
too little, too late.

“I think it’s most important that we have faith in ourselves and then it helps to have a coaching staff that works with us and reminds that we did it all last year and we had a bad record in the beginning," goalkeeper Nick Rimando said. "Ours isn’t too bad right now – there’s worse out there – so we’re going home for the next three games and if we get nine points out of that, then good, but if not, we’ve still got a long season.”

First-year
player Collen Warner received his first MLS start as Kreis looked for help in
the midfield among the wounded. The University of Portland star played well in the
U.S. Open Cup play-in game against San Jose earlier this month, and was rewarded in last Saturday’s
match against the LA Galaxy when he came on in the 64th minute for
his first appearance in league play.

Real Salt Lake will play four
of their next five games at home, starting next week against Toronto FC.

“We
wanted to get more points out of this road stretch,” Borchers mentioned. “But
we know that we’re very good at home.”