Velasquez finding form, searching for first goal
SANDY, Utah — For Real Salt Lake midfielder Sebastian Velasquez, the goose egg next to his name for goals scored this season is a tough pill to swallow.
After all, he is the only midfielder on the team that has played over 100 minutes to not have put the ball in the back of the net. The midfielders have been scoring in droves for RSL. Javier Morales leads the way with seven, followed by Luis Gil and Ned Grabavoy with five apiece. Kyle Beckerman has four, while Khari Stephenson, Cole Grossman and Yordany Alvarez all have one goal.
"I think about it every day — morning, noon and night. Before I go to bed, I watch videos. I do everything I can and I'm just waiting for my goal to come," said Velasquez after training last week.
"I came here from college where I was scoring every game, and now it has been a year-and-a-half since I scored. It's driving me crazy. I feel like once I get my first goal, then I can probably get on a roll."
For Velasquez, he will probably get his chance sooner rather than later as coach Jason Kreis feels the second-year pro is rounding back into form.
"I think last year he went through a long stretch during the summer months where he kind of went through a dip in form. I think it is very typical, especially for first-year players," said Kreis. "Now, you see this year, he went through another dip, but it was really limited to about two weeks. We addressed it with him and said, 'Stick with it, stay positive, stay confident.' I think he got a little bit recharged by that conversation and ever since then has worked extremely hard and gained some of his sharpness back. He gets an opportunity to go into a game, and he answers the questions himself because he played fantastically and changed the match. He showed us that he is maturing."
Velasquez agreed with his coach's assessment.
"I feel like there was about a month or so where I kind of got out of my way as far as I was just kind of in a slump," said Velasquez. "Luckily, I spoke with coach and he helped me get back in some form, get back my fitness. It is a long season, and now, I feel like I'm getting back into form. I feel like I'm getting my rhythm again. I think this year I had less of a slump than I had last year. I just need to keep working so that each year I can make it smaller until I don't even have any slump."
So as the season winds down and each game takes on more and more meaning with RSL still the frontrunner for the Supporters’ Shield, Velasquez hopes his time to get rid of that zero on the score sheet is coming soon.
"Obviously, it gets to you because all these guys all have scored, and as somebody who hasn't scored it just drives you nuts," said Velasquez. "It will come. It will come at the right time, the time when we need it most."