RSL set with poise for long season

Mar 5 2013 - 12:41am

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Like a mastercraft old seamster, Real Salt Lake threaded the first stitch on the tapestry of its new season with poise and resourcefulness.

A warm and welcome beginning to a long journey of many months ahead for the Claret-and-Cobalt, who claimed their opener for the fourth consecutive year.

"I am really proud of my guys' effort," Real boss Jason Kreis said. "My main focus was really if we could out compete a team that is known to be one of the best competitors in the league. I thought our guys found ways to weather some storms because San Jose is very dangerous for 10-15 minute periods and will always be dangerous with players like (Chris) Wondolowski."

Real entered its 2013 season opener with plenty of questions after the departure of three members of its First XI line-p and the absence of three likely starting selections due to injury, and did its best to begin to answer some of them.

"Overall, we needed to work on our field positions," Real midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. "San Jose comes out with a lot of energy and we knew it was going to be a hard game."

The Earthqukes, who were also missing several key players with various knocks, were aggressive and went at Real's retooled defense early, forcing several critical miscommunications that led to dangerous chances and set piece opportunities for San Jose. Outside defender Kenny Mansally was one of those RSL players that struggled on his side of the field during the opening half as the 'Quakes found seams to attack in the Salt Lake defense.

Salt Lake's second half response was encouraging, especially as it drew so many players into the passing game. Everyone on the field, Mansally included, looked more comfortable and played with far more poise and consistency during the second 45 minutes

"We missed a lot of passes in the first half, which caused us to slow," Kreis said. "By the end of the first half, we really looked like a team that wasn't 100 percent ready for the season, especially on the road. I believe in our guys to keep up the work they hand (and) I thought we were a lot sharper (in the second half)."

Team newcomer Joao Plata, who has been highly touted as a rising star since he was traded to the Utah side, came on as a 65th minute substitute for Robbie Findley and immediately began to prove why RSL acquired the 21-year-old forward from Toronto FC during the offseason.

Plata's looping lead pass to Saborio was a spectacular assist and play for a player that had officially worn a Real Salt Lake kit for just six minutes prior. Plata's energy and work rate presented a different look to the Earthquakes' defense, which had been previously contending with the speedy Findley.

"We worked all preseason together," Beckerman said. "We know that we have to keep on working hard and harder with how teams will come at us."

For now, however, RSL is off to an awfully colorful start to its new campaign.

You can follow Justin Johnson on Twitter at: @jjohnson801 or email him at justinjohnson801@gmail.com.

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