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

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Finally on the board from one, RSL wanting more from its set pieces

Once again, midfielder Javier Morales finished his final pre-game workout Friday by working on his free kicks over the plastic dummies at Rio Tinto Stadium.

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And RSL hopes the payoff continues.

Morales followed up his relentless personal practice last week by serving a perfect corner that Jamison Olave, Chris Schuler and Kyle Beckerman helped turn into the first goal in a 3-2 victory over Toronto FC.

Remarkably, it was the first goal of the season for RSL off a set piece, which is not enough for coach Jason Kreis.

"By my estimation, we should have maybe three goals off dead-ball situations over 10 matches," he said. "We have shown in our history, and we have the players on our team with the abilities to be scoring a much more rapid pace with those."

Indeed, RSL scored nine goals off corners last season, and one off a direct free kick. It was six and two, the previous two years.

At the current pace, though, RSL would come up with just three or four set-piece goals — although the team clearly has been affected by not having Morales for much of the first part of the season.

Now that he's back, maybe Morales can make a difference with his precision service.

"Javi's a special server of the ball and also a striker of the ball in and around the box," Kreis said. "So I think when we have him out there on a consistent basis, that will help us. But it's not only that. When I go back and look at our dead-ball situations, the runs that we were making in the box weren't good enough. So we've been stressing it over the past couple of weeks — that it's timing. It's both service, and the runs, that need to get a little bit better."



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