Two preseason matches, two preseason losses — the first against a Denmark U-20 side, the second against a UC Irvine college side. Panic seems appealing, but is it necessary? Hardly.
Sure, preseason matches are somewhat important and we should strive to compete, but to panic over two matches few have seen seems foolhardy.
Let's take a look at the squads for those two matches before we draw an assessment.
RSL 0-2 Denmark U-20s
Lalo Fernandez (Jeff Attinella, 46'); Lovel Palmer (Aaron Maund, 46'), Carlos Salcedo (Enzo Martinez, 69'), Kwame Watson-Siriboe (Chris Schuler, 46'), Brock Granger** (Kenny Mansally, 46'); Enzo Martinez (Yordany Alvarez, 46'); Cole Grossman (John Stertzer, 46'), David Viana (Sebastian Velasquez, 46'); Javier Morales (Jose Hernandez***, 44'; Khari Stephenson*, 46'); Peri Marosevic* (Jordan Allen***), Benji Lopez*** (Devon Sandoval**, 46')
2012 RSL Players (>0 mins): 6; 2012 MLS players: 4 (10 total)
RSL 0-2 UC Irvine
Lalo Fernandez (Jeff Attinella, 46'); Lovel Palmer (Brock Granger*, 46'), Chris Schuler (Aaron Maund, 46'), Kwame Watson-Siriboe (Carlos Salcedo, 46'), Kenny Mansally (Justin Davis**, 46'); Yordany Alvarez (Sebastian Velasquez, 67'); John Stertzer (Enzo Martinez, 46'), Khari Stephenson** (Cole Grossman, 46'); Sebastian Velasquez (David Viana, 46'); Joao Plata (Devon Sandoval*, 67'), Devon Sandoval* (Benji Lopez***, 46')
Italics: Has played in MLS; bold: Has played for Real Salt Lake
2012 RSL Players (>0 mins): 6; 2012 MLS players: 5 (11 total)
Let's run a couple numbers briefly. Of 22 players in the first match, only six played for Real Salt Lake in 2012, with Javier Morales the only player to have played more than 1,000 minutes for the club last year. Of 19 players in the second match, six played any minutes for Real Salt Lake in 2012, and none of them played more than 1,000 minutes.
About a quarter of the players involved, then, have first-team RSL experience. Things don't click? That's not a real surprise. Should we be concerned that we're not clicking yet, given the squad? Perhaps not. Yes, it could have repercussions that spill into the start of the season, but this isn't a surprising thing.
Regardless, a few more weeks of preseason will do this group well. They're still learning the intricacies of the system, of Kreis's coaching paradigm, and of the patterns of each other on the pitch. Worry is hardly necessary yet — but, if by the end of preseason, things don't start clicking, there could be more significant problems with which Real Salt Lake has to deal.
Preseason is a time to learn. Winning? Sure, that's nice, but the goal is to prepare the team over 10 months — not over a month-and-a-half before the fun really begins.
Photo courtesy of Garrett Cleverly, Grande Sports Academy PR