Sandy • In the final regular-season match of a grueling seven-month-long season, Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis mixed things up a bit.
Four days after RSL traveled to Portland to take on the Western Conference-leading Timbers and earning a crucial road point in its 0-0 draw, Kreis once again slotted veteran defender Lovel Palmer in the starting lineup ahead of Tony Beltran.
But Kreis also stuck with his midfield that controlled much of the match at JELD-WEN Field Saturday night, including holding midfielder Yordany Alvarez in his diamond formation; that places Kyle Beckerman — known predominantly for his role in the holding position — out wide for the second straight match opposite Ned Grabavoy.
Midfielder Luis Gil again took the attacking role, typically held by Javier Morales. On Oct. 5, Morales suffered a left ankle sprain, but Kreis said Tuesday he believed all healthy players would be available for starting-lineup selection.
“Do we play somebody probably a little bit out of their position in order to get all the players that are probably playing their best on the field? Or do we go back to what’s more typical for our guys?” Kreis said Tuesday.
Take a rip
Games are tightening up, along with opposing back lines of teams all around Major League Soccer.
But there has to be a cure to RSL’s recent goal-scoring woes, and both Kreis and Grabavoy said it’s about taking a chance and testing an opposing goalkeeper.
“We need a player to take a risk at that point,” Kreis said. “Shoot the ball, deflect it off a defender, put it through somebody’s legs, make the goalkeeper make a save — anything to now just say, ‘I’m going to take the last chance here; I’m going to step forward and make a play for my team or at least take a risk for my team.’ I think that’s the area we look to build off of this week.”
See the streak
RSL’s sixth consecutive playoff berth is currently the longest in MLS and is tied for second-longest in MLS history. The New York Red Bulls had a six-year streak from 2003 to 2008, but both RSL and the Red Bulls trail the New England Revolution’s streak of eight years from 2002 to 2009.