It is hard to understate the value of Saturday’s win for Real Salt Lake.
Jason Kreis’ team can now turn its focus to CONCACAF and playoff preparations safe with the knowledge that, barring an epic meltdown, they will finish in the top three of the West.
That said, here are a few other notes from Saturday’s win in Los Angeles:
- The match felt like a Tale of Two Halves, with the first being played in LA’s preferred style and the second more like an RSL home match. Ironically, while Salt Lake won the first on the scoreboard, I suspect the second half was the preferred one for Salt Lake’s coaches.
- For the first time this season, Jamison Olave looked like Jamison Olave. He ran at full speed, had a few “Verb” moments where he took out attacking players, and even erased a few defensive miscues with his superior athleticism.
- Salt Lake struggled mightily for the first 23 minutes. This was not a defensive lapse. On the contrary, the defense managed to hang in under pressure and only give up one goal. That one required a near perfect play from Robbie Keane to even have a chance of going in. All in all, the back line can hold their heads high.
- The cause of the early struggles was the midfield. The absence of Ned Grabavoy and Will Johnson was obvious as the side struggled to get the ball out of the defensive area and into attack. Fortunately, Luis Gil and Jonny Steele stepped up to help things get going after a shell-shocked start. Still, Kreis is going to be thrilled to have Johnson and Grabavoy back as soon as possible.
- All year long, Kreis and this site have reminded fans that trophies aren’t won until the fall. It is now go time, and Salt Lake is firing on all cylinders. If the side keeps its form, a run at MLS Cup is looking more probable by the day.