Sandy •Â Ten games into its season, Real Salt Lake has endured injuries, suspensions and several high-profile refereeing decisions that have gone against it â¦ and yet still sits among the leaders in the MLS Western Conference.
Your thoughts, Jason Kreis?
"I'm pleased," the coach said. "I'm not ecstatic."
That sounds about right.
Ecstatic would be not having to endure without star midfielder Javier Morales most of the time, not suffering red cards and penalty kicks that have cost points in the standings, not giving up so many goals and, surely, not losing at home to Chivas USA.
But RSL has forged quite a respectable 6-3-1 record while facing all of those challenges Â plus, a hectic schedule that resumes with a home game against New England on Saturday and incorporating several key new players into the lineup. Its 19 points in the standings were second in the Western Conference after San Jose, which beat D.C. United 5-3 late Wednesday.
"We had a lot of question marks â¦ about what our depth was going to look like and what kind of contributions we were going to get from new players," Kreis said. "The health of a lot of our core, veteran players was a concern. So far, most of the answers have been positive."
Indeed, RSL has been happy to welcome show-stopping rookies Jonny Steele and Sebastian Velasquez to the midfield, helping make up for the offseason losses of veteran Andy Williams, Collen Warner and Jean Alexandre.
Defender Chris Schuler has continued to develop, too, and permit a three-man rotation among the center backs, although RSL has given up more than a goal per game on average Â about the same as last season and far from its record-setting performance in 2010, when it allowed just 20 goals in 30 games.
"We certainly have made some mistakes," Kreis said, "and we haven't played our best soccer, I don't think, for anything near 90 minutes yet. So there's a lot of room for improvement which is a good thing, because we've had some positive results and we're sitting in a pretty positive place and on top of that, we can look at ourselves â¦ and say we need to get better."
New Englandat RSL
P Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV • CW30