Sandy • The initial mood was frustration and disappointment.
The moments after Real Salt Lake’s 1-0 loss against the L.A. Galaxy in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinal Sunday night in Carson, Calif., encompassed those typical following a loss. But once reality set in, RSL coach Jason Kreis said his players registered that they sit in a fairly favorable position despite struggling for much of the match.
L.A. Galaxy at Real Salt Lake7 p.m. Thursday
TV » ESPN2
"I think once they took a breath away from that and realized we’re only one goal down," Kreis said, "I think we all have to feel pretty good about it."
Now comes time to hit the reset button.
RSL couldn’t find the appropriate passing lanes against a Galaxy team that swarmed the midfield in the first leg, which allowed L.A. to continually counter with so many threatening chances.
Kreis said it had nothing to do with the pressure put on by the Galaxy — "It’s due to us," he said, adding that it’s an issue that can be fixed in the four days leading up to the second leg of the semifinals Thursday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
"I think that we’ve got experienced enough guys, we’ve got talented enough guys, we’ve got good enough players and a strong enough team concept that I believe we can improve drastically," Kreis said.
If RSL can find its equalizer, it will need to rediscover its possession-based touch, a concentration captain Kyle Beckerman said was lacking a bit Sunday night at the StubHub Center.
"We’ve just got to stay focused a bit more," Beckerman said on a conference call with the media. "When it comes down to [possession], if the passing isn’t there, the effort has to be there from every single one of us. You can try and focus more on passing, but if it doesn’t happen, you’ve got to be willing to get in there and roll up the sleeves."
One player in particular who potentially may have to pitch in that work and renewed focus is midfielder Sebastian Velasquez, a second-half substitute Sunday. Velasquez replaced veteran Ned Grabavoy, who left the match with a left hamstring injury. Kreis said Tuesday that Grabavoy remains questionable for Thursday night’s second leg.
"At the end of the day, we still lost, but I think in a way, the score line kind of gives us an urgency that we have to win," Velasquez said, "and I think it’s actually going to favor us because I feel like when we come out with a lot of urgency, we play to the best of our abilities. I think we’ll pull it off."
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