Real Salt Lake’s first Open Cup game of the year came midweek, sandwiched between a pair of league matches, forcing coach Jason Kreis to be more judicious with his players’ minutes.
As RSL gears up for its next Open Cup test this week, a break in the Major League Soccer schedule should afford Kreis more options. Real will take on the Charleston Battery at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday, then won’t play again until June 22 against Seattle.
“The break after the game on Wednesday alleviates my thinking about the fatigue levels,” Kreis said after a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday. “But again, it’ll be a conversation with the guys on Tuesday who have played 90 minutes again tonight to see whether or not they’ll be available for selection to start the match or whether they’d prefer to come off the bench.
“I have a feeling they’re all going to want to play because I think they’re as hungry for this tournament as I am.”
One of those players logging heavy minutes is veteran midfielder Javier Morales. After missing time early this season with an injury, the 33-year-old has played 90 minutes or more in RSL’s last nine matches, including a 120-minute overtime performance in an Open Cup win against the Atlanta Silverbacks.
Morales played all 90 against L.A. on Saturday, notching two assists.
“He’s a guy that we have a very strong feeling about his fitness level,” Kreis said. “Meaning that when he is really, really fit is when he’s at his absolute best. There is just no other way to do that other than to play 90 minutes. Toward the end of the game, he’s making really hard runs to defend and putting defenders under pressure, and he’s showing that he’s at the top of his fitness and at the top of his game. Those things go hand in hand.”
Charleston at Real Salt Lake
P Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.