Robbie Findley returns as Real Salt Lake opens home season vs. Rapids
By Steve Luhm
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Mar 15 2013 04:52PM
Sandy • After a two-year absence, Real Salt Lake striker Robbie Findley is finally returning to Rio Tinto Stadium.
Coach Jason Kreis and his teammates are glad he’s back.
After splitting games at San Jose and D.C. United, RSL opens its home season Saturday against Colorado.
It will be a homecoming for Findley, who spent 3½ seasons with Real Salt Lake before signing with English side Nottingham Forest in 2011 and 2012.
"I’m excited," Findley said. "All the other guys are excited as well. It will be nice to get out there and have all the fans behind us. They always give us great energy."
Hoping to punch up an offense that faltered down the stretch last year, Real Salt Lake reacquired Findley on Jan. 16.
RSL sent allocation money to Portland, which had selected Findley in the expansion draft following his final season in Utah.
Findley played 130 minutes, but did not score in Real Salt Lake’s first two games.
"I think we’ve played well," he said. "The first game, we got a good result away from home. The second game, we just needed to clean up some minor details. If we do, we walk out of there with a result, too."
Findley has taken only two shots in the first two games — something he believes will change in front of Rio Tinto’s rowdy fans.
"Usually, you don’t get that many chances away from home," he said. "But we’re home now and will create a lot of opportunities. It’s just a matter of finishing them."
According to teammate Kyle Beckerman, Findley’s presence has already had an impact on the RSL attack.
"He has been huge," Beckerman said. "It hasn’t shown on the score sheet, but he brings fear to the other team’s back line. With that, the field begins to space out for everyone."
"He’s been putting in tons of effort on the defensive end," Beckerman said. "Sometimes that goes unnoticed."
Kreis wants more, however.
"I have an ideal of what Robbie Findley is and can be for our team," he said. "So I’m always going to measure players against their potential in my eyes. I don’t think he’s there yet."
An abbreviated preseason has held Findley back, his coach explained.
"I’m not [surprised]," Kreis said. "… He missed four or five weeks of working and being sharp on the ball, so I think he’s a little behind the curve."
Real Salt Lake will be short-handed against Colorado.
Midfielder Javier Morales (knee) and defender Chris Wingert (foot) remain sidelined. Defender Nat Borchers is doubtful after January quad surgery.
In addition, defender-midfielder Abdoulie Mansally is serving a one-game suspension for violent conduct against D.C. United.
The good news?
Kreis believes RSL has greatly improved its depth, which should allow Real to deal with injuries and suspensions better than in previous seasons.
"We think we’ve really built this team the right way," Kreis said. "There are guys — literally at every position — that can step in and we believe can do a fantastic job. Frankly, the competition is so great that, if you allow someone to step in there, you may not get back in the rotation for a while."