Coach Jason Kreis sees bright spots from short-handed Real Salt Lake
Lehi • Its recent road trip included probably two of the worst halves that Real Salt Lake has played in awhile, albeit in separate games, and it has won only twice in its past eight contests while coping with a wide swath of injuries and absences.
Yet coach Jason Kreis is encouraged.
"We're coming home with some real momentum," he said, "and a real positive feeling about what we produced in a difficult circumstance."
The team plays seven of its next 10 games at home beginning when D.C. United visits Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night, and is coming off a draw at Philadelphia last weekend that defied how poorly it played in the first half.
"I feel good, actually, about what I'm seeing recently," Kreis said.
The coach said that in each of RSL's past three games, "We had some moments of really, really good stuff borderline brilliant."
But he acknowledged those moments have been fleeting, maybe 60 minutes' worth in a 2-0 home win against Vancouver on June 4, followed by about the first 15 minutes of a 2-1 loss at Columbus on June 8 and the final 45 of the draw at Philadelphia.
"We're really seeing minutes in every match â¦ when we're getting exactly what we want, what we expect from the players," Kreis said. "Now it's a question of can we build on that? Can we make it more and more and get to 90 minutes?"
Midfielder-turned-forward Jean Alexandre is expected to be sworn in as an new American citizen Wednesday.
The native Haitian had already been considered a domestic player since he had a "green card" work permit, meaning RSL has five players occupying international roster spots.
Assistant coach CJ Brown will be honored by the Chicago Fire when RSL plays at Toyota Park on June 22.
One of the original members of the team, Brown made a team-record 370 appearances while playing 13 years for the Fire before retiring after last season and joining the RSL coaching staff when former assistant Robin Fraser left to become head coach at Chivas USA.
No quick fix
Midfielder Kyle Beckerman said returning home is far from a guarantee that RSL will rediscover its top form.
"For us right now, playing at home doesn't mean anything, really," he said.
That's because the team is 2-3-3 in its past eight games and is still missing several important players.
"It's all about just not getting frustrated," he said, "keeping our heads in it and sticking together through this tough time."
So how did RSL turn around its admittedly "abysmal" form from the first half of the Philadelphia game to the second?
Kreis admitted he had a word with the players.
"In that particular halftime, I think I attempted to do a good job of challenging their manliness," he said. Kreis declined to comment, however, about Union coach Peter Nowak pointedly skipping the traditional post-game handshake.
Three players have joined RSL on trial, including forward Chris Agorsor, midfielder Sony Norde and defender Samir Bengelloun.
The 21-year-old Agorsor played in college at Virginia and joined the Philadelphia Union this season in a special lottery after training with Manchester United in England and Nacional in Portugal, but he was cut earlier this month.
Norde is a 21-year-old Haitian international who's friends with Alexandre and played for San Luis FC in Mexico, while Bengelloun is a 26-year-old natural left back from France who played last year for Lokomotiv Plovdiv in Bulgaria.
RSL would have to cut a current player to sign one of the trialists. Doing so by July 1 would keep it from having to pay the released player's salary for the rest of the season.
D.C. United at RSL
P Saturday, 7 p.m.
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