Assistant Brown key as RSL continue defensive dominance
LEHI, Utah — Real Salt Lake came into the 2011 season with a couple
of question marks over their defense: Could they match their
record-setting defensive performance of a year ago, and would incoming
defensive assistant coach C.J. Brown be able to fill the shoes of the
departed Robin Fraser?
Both are still works in progress, but the overwhelming sentiment is so far, so good.
It seemed unlikely that RSL could hold their opponents to a combined
20 goals on the season this year, the incredible feat they achieved in
2010. With the schedule ballooning to 34 games in 2011, the team would
need to be even more stingy in this campaign.
However, that 20-goal mark amounted to a little over five goals in
every eight matches. This season — eight games in — RSL have only
conceded twice, putting them on pace for just nine goals for the entire
“We work very hard as a coaching staff, not only to coach players
out on the field but also in scouting opponents and scouting potential
players to bring in,” head coach Jason Kreis said. “We really are an
all-encompassing unit that does everything they can to help each other
out in every way they can. I think that’s the single best quality that
we have ... that we work so hard.”
Having a defensive unit that’s been together for several years
helps. And boasting prolific defensive forces such as Nat Borchers, 2010
Defender of the Year Jámison Olave and veteran goalkeeper Nick Rimando
doesn’t hurt, either.
For that reason, the key to the success of new assistant coach Brown was more about continuity than anything else.
“I think he’s doing really well,” Kreis said. “And I think he’s been
important to what we’ve accomplished so far in the season. I think he’s
also got a way to go until he’s as comfortable as he will be, and as he
One of the most important tests early on was for Brown to fit in and
earn the respect of his players. That’s already happening, but is still
ongoing, says Kreis.
“I think he’s still gaining a voice, and those things take time
until you have the confidence to get after guys a little bit more,”
Kreis said. “But you see him having individual discussions with guys
here and there, and they value his opinion of the game. And they know
he’s been through all the experiences that they are going through.”
For Brown, the transition from player to assistant coach has taken some adjustment.
“It’s not easy filling Robin’s shoes, and I don’t think that’s the
intention,” the former Chicago Fire defender said. “They’ve built a good
team, and for me it’s finding out where I fit in.”
“It’s not as easy as you think as a player,” he added. “There are a
lot of details in the work that we do. You’re looking at every detail of
every player. You’re trying to give your players every advantage
possible. So we watch every game possible to help us do that. It’s a
lot more hours than you think.”