With Javier Morales out for the early weeks of the season and Luis Gil only just returning to the squad after international duty, Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis is in a bit of a tough spot early on. But with a renewed focus on positional rotation and attack from the midfield, he'll be hopeful that his side on Sunday can compensate without issue.
Getting more midfielders involved in attack is one of the early goals for the side, Kreis said.
"We're going to stress all year long that we want to get more numbers involved in our attacks, and that's going to mean a lot of running, a lot of commitment from our midfielders in particular," he said. "I believe that this group will score more goals than they did last year, and that'll be important."
Who exactly plays in the central attacking midfield spot — the one at the top of the diamond normally occupied by Javier Morales — isn't set in stone, Kreis said.
"I think that it's going to be a flat-out competition every single week," he said. "In the preseason, we used Grabavoy for a large stretch, Sebastian got minutes there, Stertzer got minutes there, and Stephenson actually got minutes there early on. I think all four of those players could contribute in certain ways, you get different things out of all four."
While the return of Luis Gil from the CONCACAF U-20 Championships adds another player to compete for time in the midfield and perhaps a more obvious pick for the attacking midfield position, Kreis said he's looking for more rotation and attack from the midfielders in front of Kyle Beckerman.
"I think we have five players who we can rotate in that position, and I don't want to give too much stress to that individual position for me," Kreis said. "If things go the way I want them to be, all three players that are in front of our holding midfielder will spend equal amount of time in that spot behind the two forwards. If they're dynamic enough, it won't matter who starts there."
Luis Gil, whose performance in the CONCACAF tournament was vital to securing a berth into the U-20 World Cup this summer for the United States, said he's ready to play anywhere — whether that's in a nominally more central position or not.
"I feel like as a player you have to be ready everywhere, wherever the team needs you," Gil said. "At the same time, I feel like I have both aspects, being an attacker and a midfielder, working both ways on the right side."
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