RSL struggle to execute game plan in Frisco

Kreis says failure to keep possession proved RSL's downfall

Jason Kreis

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FRISCO, Texas – Real Salt Lake talked about
playing a more defensive style ahead of Saturday night’s first leg
playoff match on the road at Pizza Hut Park. 

However, based on the first 15-20 minutes, when
Real Salt Lake captured an early lead and aggressively applied pressure
in the FC Dallas half of the field, it turns out that all the defensive
talk during the week was a ruse.  


“We wanted to pressure them up high and really
get after them and have them thinking we were coming to sit back,” RSL
captain Kyle Beckerman said. “It worked in the beginning.”

It worked because Real Salt Lake scored a
stunning first goal by forward Fabian Espindola after only five
minutes. But RSL did not have the stamina to keep up the harassing
high-pressure strategy.

Manager Jason Kreis says his team was
supposed to switch to a more sustained possession game, which would
have helped them manage the 1-0 lead on the road.

“The way we play requires a tremendous amount of
energy from our players, and when we don’t have that energy, it means
that we don’t have options to pass the ball,” Kreis said. “You have to be moving and dynamic and never can
be standing still. Maybe that early goal hurt us a little bit in that
maybe we didn’t think we needed to do as much when we had the ball.”

READ: RSL oozing confidence despite loss

And so instead of establishing possession, RSL
sought to continue to intercept the ball and quickly get behind the FC
Dallas back line. Kreis admitted that this plan was only intended for
the first 15 minutes.

“We wanted to slow it down after about 15 or
so,” Beckerman said. “But as a team maybe we were thinking we could
sustain this [the pressure] and get another goal.”

Real Salt Lake never got their passing game
going and FC Dallas, which was seemingly demoralized after allowing the
opening goal, slowly crept back into the match and figured ways to
maneuver past the RSL pressure.

“We couldn’t keep the rhythm and they had a
lucky play by their forward [Jeff Cunningham] to score the goal,”
midfielder Javier Morales said. “We had very little of the ball and
this influenced the game a lot.”

It will be a new game plan on Saturday, when
Real Salt Lake will be forced to make up a one-goal deficit in the
aggregate goal series.

In what will be a do-or-die scenario, they cannot afford that their tactics and strategy fail them then.