Comprehensive win over Vancouver good medicine for RSL

Kreis happy with improved commitment to tackling, overall effort

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Photo Credit: 
Greg Underwood / Real Salt Lake

SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake showed glimpses of their old selves in a
home victory over the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps this past weekend.
The 2-0 win was much-needed medicine for a club that has struggled to
find the cure for a lack of scoring in recent matches.

They're not all the way back yet, according to head coach Jason Kreis,
who said there was “still room for improvement, still a couple of steps
forward to make.”

But Kreis was especially pleased with one area in which RSL tightened
the ship on Saturday: their commitment to tackling in the middle of the
park.

“I think the number of tackles we won tonight was probably higher than it’s been for the last several weeks,” Kreis said.

The game saw a number of players showing well, none more so than Jean
Alexandre. The holding midfielder, converted to forward out of
necessity, registered his first league goal in the first half and picked
up an assist in the second en route to a performance that would
ultimately lead to his being tabbed as the MLS Player of the week.

Fabián Espíndola was also once again a stand-out for the team, putting
in the work on many occasions and capitalizing himself on an Alexandre
assist to net his second goal of the year. But the striker wasn’t
satisfied with his performance.

“It’s always good when you score,” explained Espindola, “I’m a forward.
I have to. I put everything I have into the games, so it’s good when
you score and help the team, but only two goals in the league this year —
not so good.”

The Argentine has found himself in more positions to touch the ball
over the last couple of games. That’s not part of a master plan, just a
player trying to make an impact.

“It makes me feel a little bit better when I can’t score [to get
touches on the ball],” he said. “At least I’m with the ball all the
time, and I try to make some plays, and help the team.”

While things are moving in a positive direction up top, and the
backline appears to be solid as ever, there are perhaps still some
questions in the midfield, at least at the top of the diamond. Collen
Warner manned that position against Vancouver. Kreis saw some
improvement, but not enough to be convinced that the second year player
was the permanent answer for that role.

“Collen Warner is a player that we get at a lot to try to make
defensive plays,” said Kreis. “We know how gifted he can be with the
ball, but we need him to make defensive plays as well, and I think he
got on the end of quite a few tackles as well.”

Captain Kyle Beckerman was glad to see RSL begin a new unbeaten streak
at Rio Tinto Stadium, after losing two weeks ago to Seattle.

“We worked really hard for a couple of years to get that winning
mentality here,” explained Beckerman, “and it’s been a while since we’ve
gone through a rough patch, so tonight was big just to get back on the
winning column.”

However, this week the team will face a couple of challenges away from
the comforts of home as they visit Columbus on Wednesday before
venturing into Philadelphia for a Saturday contest against the Union.

“It’s great for our confidence,” said defender Nat Borchers of
Saturday’s win. “Moving forward, especially with all of the games that
we have in June — we needed this.

“It’s a situation where we are not playing our best soccer right now,”
he continued, “so it’s a situation where we’re going to have to come out
and battle now. It’s not going to be just sexy, pretty soccer. It’s
going to be blue collar soccer, and we’re going to have to do that every
game.”