Sandy » While his team was trying to snap out of its agonizing winless stretch, owner Dave Checketts emphatically endorsed coach Jason Kreis and the job he's doing with Real Salt Lake this season and predicted it will turn things around and reach the Major League Soccer playoffs.
"I fully expect this team to turn it around and be right there to qualify for the playoffs," he said.
Speaking to reporters at halftime of RSL's 1-1 draw against the rival Colorado Rapids at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night, Checketts initially seemed to evade a question about whether there was any pressure on Kreis to keep his job by saying that there is "pressure on everybody, all the time." But later, he praised Kreis and said there is "great leadership in every category" of the organization.
Perhaps more telling than anything, Checketts said he told Kreis that even though RSL earned its first road point by playing to a scoreless draw at D.C. United two weeks ago with a defensive strategy, he would rather see the team stay aggressive -- something it clearly did against the Rapids, employing three strikers.
"I don't want you to change the way you play," Checketts said he told Kreis. "I want a team that attacks all the time, a team that tries to score every time they get the ball."
Checketts had nothing to add to the news that he and a group of fellow investors plan to try to buy the NFL's St. Louis Rams, but expressed excitement at learning that JetBlue Airways next week will unveil a plane painted with the RSL colors and logo, as part of its new sponsorship agreement with the team.
He acknowledged the same thing the coaches and players did a few weeks ago, that they grew overconfident because of some convincing victories early in the season, but added that he's sure the team can rediscover the groove with which it reached the playoffs last season.
"This team is a team that very much can get on a roll," he said. "If you look at our record, our best players have not played well. Our best players have not made the contribution we would like -- I'm not going to name names -- but we're not getting it from our best players. They're all character kids. I know they will turn it around."