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.
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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