With playoffs in sight, RSL's depth tested by lineup shift

George Frey

With Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Will Johnson (for 60 minutes), Javier Morales and Nick Rimando out, RSL coach Jason Kreis will be pleased by the continuity shown in defense in Real Salt Lake's 0-0 draw with Vancouver.

Real Salt Lake's slightly altered lineup against Vancouver Whitecaps saw the game end in a goalless draw. With Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Will Johnson (for 60 minutes), Javier Morales and Nick Rimando out, RSL coach Jason Kreis will be pleased by the continuity shown in defense.

Kreis said most of the lineup decisions were forced by injury and fatigue considerations moving into the post-season.

"With guys just having knocks, and Javier getting sick this morning with the flu, the only decision I think that we made that was clearly a resting situation was Will Johnson," he said. "Everybody else had an injury or something that we needed to consider, whether we were willing to take that risk of further injuring in the last match and having them unavailable in the playoffs."

Kreis said defender Nat Borchers was out with a "lingering quadriceps injury," and was rested for that reason.

"As of yesterday he was on the board and in the lineup," Kreis said. "(W)hile talking to him over the last 24 hours, we made a collective decision that it was a silly thing for him to continue on with what's a slight strain in his quadriceps which could put us in the exact same situation we were in last year, so we were just unwilling to take that risk."

Ned Grabavoy, on the other hand, was a player returning from injury. Kreis was pleased with his 60-minute performance.

"I was really pleased with what he was able to give us," Kreis said. "That was our decision to bring him out, I think he probably would have preferred to go a little bit longer, but we just weren't going to do it, and I think it was a positive contribution and showed that he should be ready come next week."

Grabavoy, who returned after missing three consecutive MLS matches, said he was encouraged by the defensive display from a makeshift back line.

"You look at the back line tonight, and there were some decisions that were last minute and some decisions where we tried to rest a couple of guys here and there, but I thought those guys looked great back there," Grabavoy said. "I know we're struggling to score some goals right now, but at the end of the day, if you can get zeros in the playoffs, you're going to put yourself in a good position to move on. Right now we have tightened things up in the back, and that's the most important thing."

Goalkeeper Kyle Reynish, in for a rested Nick Rimando, kept a clean sheet but faced only one on-target shot. He said he didn't expect to see playoff time, but the preparation was invaluable.

"I assume Nick will be back for the playoffs and everything," Reynish said. "But in case anything were to happen it's nice getting a little bit of confidence going in there in case they need me and I can complete the season not with the Dallas game as my last game played."

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