RSL credits off-the-ball movement, improved attitude for four-goal performance
SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake are having no trouble finding the back of the net.
The Claret-and-Cobalt have now scored 51 times in their 28 games after putting up a second straight straight four-goal spot, this time against the Portland Timbers in a 4-2 win on Friday night.
Four different players found paydirt against the Timbers as RSL continued their torrid pace of productivity and wrapped up the month of August with 18 goals in seven games, including a 2-1 win over Portland in the US Open Cup.
What's the secret?
"Just a lot of movement off the ball," said team captain Kyle Beckerman. "Guys are hungry for goals – confident. I think when you score goals it just breeds more confidence to get more goals."
Confidence aside, RSL head coach Jason Kreis feels there has been a shift in his team's attitude.
"I just think it is overall commitment from all of our players to be really attacking in mindset, to take some risks, to be aggressive," he explained.
During the win Friday, Real got two goals from forwards as Joao Plata and Alvaro Saborio both netted one. Equally important, though, was the midfield getting into the action just as they have all season. Luis Gil opened the scoring, and Javier Morales netted what teammate Ned Grabavoy described as a "wonder goal" – an acrobatic bicycle kick to make it 3-1.
"Whew! It was great," said Beckerman of the strike. "I didn't expect it, and then I saw it and it was just what a great goal."
The torrent of goals comes on the heels of last week's 4-0 win over the Columbus Crew, and marks the first time in franchise history Real have scored four goals in two straight games.
"It seems like a lot of players want to be involved in attacks," said Grabavoy. "I think you've seen that the last two games where we just kind of play simple soccer until that final pass, and I think we are just on right now. We are finishing chances."
With a huge emphasis put on the offense, RSL is getting goals from a wide variety of players.
"We're getting contributions from all the midfielders right now," added Grabaovy. "I think if you look at the four guys that started tonight, I think all have at least four goals. Between us we probably have close to 20 goals. That's a lot from your midfield group, especially with the defensive work your head coach asks you to do. … I think it is just unselfish soccer and everybody is feeling good about it."
Turns out Grabvoy's estimate was a bit low – the starting midfield group against the Timbers has scored 21 times, headlined by Morales' seven goals, matching a career high set in 2010. Grabavoy has five, Gil now has five of his own, and Beckerman four.
Real have already surpassed their highest scoring season in franchise with six games to play to add to that total – something the franchise was hoping for after the team ended last season being shut out in four consecutive games.
"I think from the way we ended last year, it was a big emphasis on scoring goals, getting other guys to step up and score," said Beckerman. "It was a focus for us and it is good to see we are executing it."