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Chris Kamrani
Chris Kamrani covers Real Salt Lake for the Tribune.

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Coach worried about more than just injury for RSL

Bad enough for RSL that it has lost star playmaker Javier Morales to a gruesome leg injury.

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But the way coach Jason Kreis sees it, the team hasn't been playing well even with Morales in the lineup. Kreis said after his team's 1-0 victory over Chivas USA at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday that it has been more than a month since he's seen a truly inspired performance.

"If I'm really, really critical and really really frank, I don't think that our first group has played that well for a long time," he said. "The LA Galaxy game home is probably the last match I can remember where I could say, 'That was a really, really nice performance.' "

That game was March 26.

RSL has gone 3-1-3 in all competitions since then, crashed out of the Champions League just one game from the title, and scored only once in its last three games. Not a good sign for a team that now has to cope with the disastrous injury to Morales, who's out at least four months and possibly the whole season.

Clearly, the team strained to recover and play well after the first-half injury, too — defender Nat Borchers said players were "spooked" — though it's more than that, for Kreis.

"It's just confidence," he said. "The willingness of the players to take some risks and play a little quicker and trust that their teammate is going to take a good touch if they play it to them under a little bit of pressure.

"Right now, it's like we're seeing options and we're hesitating," he added. "We're saying, 'Oh, I don't want to play it there because he might lose it. And if we lose it, then we're going to have to run all the way back.' So right now, for me it comes down to all about confidence."

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