RSL Notebook: It's "only halftime" in Western semifinals
SANDY, Utah – The job’s just half done.
That was the refrain from Real Sale Lake head coach Jason Kreis and his players after Saturday’s emphatic 3-0 home win over the Seattle Sounders. As great a night as it was for the Claret and Cobalt, and as much as everything had gone to plan, there’s another 90 minutes left to be played on Wednesday in Seattle (10 pm ET; ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, TSN2).
“We’re very, very pleased with the result and very pleased with the effort that the guys put into the match,” the RSL head coach explained after Saturday's victory. “But we’re also very cognizant of it only being halftime. There’s another match at Seattle, and we know how difficult it is to play there.”
It’s somewhat natural to dismiss that as coach-speak, since his side is holding what appears to be an insurmountable three-goal advantage, but Kreis has reason to be wary of the Sounders and their high-powered attack. Seattle led the league in goals scored in 2011, claimed the US Open Cup (their third straight) and advanced with relative ease out of their CONCACAF Champions League group.
More than that, though, Kreis is wary of his own side, a group that he feels have performed better when their backs are to the wall than they have as favorites.
“I think if we spend too much time patting ourselves on the back, too much time watching the highlights – I’m sure everybody’s going to tilt their opinion, change their opinion and tell us how good we are – if we spend too much time reading about that, we’re going to put ourselves in a bad place,” Kreis said. “We need to keep our feet on the ground and say, ‘It was a good first half, and there’s a second half still to play.’”
The sentiment was echoed in the locker room as well. Javier Morales was succinct.
“It’s halftime, and the Sounders are very, very good,” the playmaker said. “They can score many goals very quickly, so we need to play on Wednesday like we did [on Saturday].”
Kyle Beckerman, Morales’ central midfield running mate, was on the same page, and actually left with some questions after RSL’s performance.
“I don’t know how everybody’s going to react to being 3-0 up,” the captain said. “I don’t think a lot of us, or any of us, have ever been in that situation before. So we’ll just have to wait and see until after the second leg what happens.”
Borchers, Olave travel
Central defensive duo Nat Borchers and Jámison Olave, both of whom came off injured on Saturday, traveled to Seattle on Monday and are considered game-day decisions.
Olave suffered a right quadriceps strain on a play mid-way through the first half. An MRI revealed that Borchers suffered a left quadriceps strain in the second half.
Reserve Chris Schuler and starting fullback Chris Wingert finished the match in central defense for RSL. If Olave and Borchers can’t go, Schuler is almost certain to start, while the other nod will likely either go to Wingert or reserve Rauwshan McKenzie.