After three match weekends, there is one thing that is quite clear about Real Salt Lake.
The team, at least here in the early stages of the season, is a work in progress.
With injuries holding out several of the team’s key players, and others working into new and more expanded roles on the pitch, forming a complete and cohesive unit will take time.
“It has been a rough offseason, there’s no doubt about it,” Real boss Jason Kreis said. “With so many changes in players, ownership and everything, all of that takes a toll. We will hope, as I keep telling the guys, to improve day-by-day and week-by-week. That has to be our objective, to be at our best at the end of the season.”
Salt Lake has already snagged a quality road win over San Jose in its season opener, and played well in a tough 1-0 loss at D.C. United, but seemed a step off defensively against rival Colorado in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the Rapids at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“This was the first game that I felt like we were really shaky,” goalkeeper Nick Rimando said. “Definitely some stuff we have to iron out, but I think it’s safe to say that everyone knows we need to get better. We held our hands up and we definitely need to look at the videotape and see where we need to get better and improve ... It’s a young season and as long as we take care of business and iron out those details we’ll be fine.”
During each of RSL’s first three matches, Kreis and his technical staff have 10 players that have been in the First XI in each match, something that likely would have carried over to Saturday had Abdoulie Mansally not been suspended for the match. In addition, striker Joao Plata has come off the bench in roughly the same time in each of the three matches, giving the team some early consistency in it player rotation and allowing those newcomers to get plenty of experience together.
Two beneficiaries of that consistent playing time have been midfielders Luis Gil and Sebastian Velasquez. The two players have played all 270 minutes of the season so far, and are slowly coming into their own inside of Real’s demanding diamond midfield. Both, however, still have room for improvement.
“I think they both have had pretty strong performances,” Kreis said. “I don’t think that either one of them you would say has had all of the ninety minutes where they were very, very good and very, very effective. Both of them are still making a few too many errors on the ball, but truthfully a lot of our players are making a few too many errors. So they are still a work in progress, we need to be patient like we said from the beginning, and in the end we should benefit greatly from getting young players like that experience.”
You can follow Justin Johnson on Twitter at: @jjohnson801 or email him at justinjohnson801@gmail.