So what is Real Salt Lake’s primary identity heading into the 2008 season?
I asked coach Jason Kreis and several players this question following Thursday’s practice, but couldn’t really get a straight answer. With that said, I deduced reading between the lines that RSL will be a base 4-4-2 team this season, but it’s obvious Kreis is trying to keep things relatively hush-hush heading into opening day next Saturday against Chicago. Based on Real Salt Lake’s three-year track record, Kreis is clearly trying to maintain any competitive advantage he might have.
“We have an idea in mind of a formation we think we’re going to be able to use for the majority of the year, (but) one of the benefits of having such smart, experienced players is you can switch formations and you can switch your tactics, and they can handle it, deal with it and do well with it. We want to be a team that can do that, and not only from game to game, but within games,” said Kreis.
“We’re going to try and establish a formation as ours most of the time, but then we’d like to be able to go to one or two others when it’s needed,” he added.
In trying out various formations throughout the preseason, midfielder Kyle Beckerman said the coaching staff emphasized a heavy attention to detail regardless of the formation. Whether RSL shifts to a 4-3-3 when down a goal, or a 4-5-1 when up a goal, Kreis is trying to get each player to understand their responsibilities in each situation so nothing is a surprise.
The last opportunity for RSL to work on that is this Saturday in an exhibition game with Kansas City in Oklahoma. Expect RSL to come out in a 4-4-2 during its last tune-up, at which point Chicago will now know what to expect on March 29.
Early next week the Deseret Morning News will be publishing its annual MLS Eastern and Western Conference predictions. In conjunction we’d also like to publish fan predictions, so we’re asking you to respond with how you think the top 7 teams in both the East and West will shake out this year.