Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE
With Real Salt Lake playing four consecutive matches without scoring a goal — or conceding one — Jason Kreis has plenty on his mind ahead of the second leg of the Western Conference semifinal.
Real Salt Lake hasn't scored in four consecutive matches (all 0-0 draws), which certainly speaks well to the defensive side of things. It speaks less well of the attack, but one thing that hasn't been lacking is chance creation. Ahead of the second leg of the Western Conference semifinal against Seattle Sounders,
In those four matches, Real Salt Lake has taken 59 shots — 17 and 18 against Vancouver and Herediano, 11 and 13 against Seattle — with 20 of those on target. Averaging five on-target shots per match isn't a bad mark, but when chances come around, they simply must be scored. Heroic goalkeeping aside, RSL coach Jason Kreis is a little frustrated at the lack of finishing displayed, and has repeatedly made clear that the side needs improvement in the final third.
Still, Kreis isn't panicking.
"I thought we created a clear number of chances," Kreis said after training on Wednesday. "Probably not as many clear-cut chances as I'd have liked to see. But we were in and around their box enough times that on a different field, perhaps with a little bit better roll or in front of our home fans or something goes right for us, then I think that we'll get that goal that we so desperately need right now."
Allowing a high number of crosses in isn't unusual for Real Salt Lake, and although Seattle swung in 30 — certainly more than RSL usually deals with — Kreis is confident in his side's ability to handle it.
"We're prepared for it because almost every team play against does that," he said. "That is the space that we give. In every soccer system, there are going to be spaces that you allow teams to play in and spaces that you do not. For a few years now, we've had to deal with a lot of service into our box, and we think we have the right personnel to be capable of handling that kind of service."
With two strong goalkeepers in Nick Rimando and Michael Gspurning, the two sides seeing out the 90 minutes without a goal is well inside the realm of possibility. It's sure to influence Kreis's tactical and lineup decisions.
"In this series, with these two teams, I think you better be ready to play all 90 or 120 minutes," he said.