It’s been a week since Real Salt Lake’s missed opportunity in Colorado. Looking back on the loss, Javier Morales’ exclusion from the line-up because of his groin injury played a huge role in the outcome.
Several postgame comments by head coach Jason Kreis revealed where Morales’ absence hurt RSL the most, and it had to do with the positioning of the attacking midfielder’s replacement, Andy Williams.
At first Kreis was asked how much not having Morales on the field hurt the team, to which he replied, “I think for certain it was. I just didn’t feel like we had any player that was in advanced positions helping us out of tight spots. He usually does that for us.”
Later in his postgame chat with reporters he was asked to evaluate Williams’ performance, and his thoughts revealed why he believed Real Salt Lake’s attack wasn’t dangerous at all.
“I think Andy, maybe because he hasn’t played there in a while, I think he dropped off too much. I don’t think he kept himself in advanced positions, he didn’t keep himself close enough to the forwards to help them,” said Kreis. “Tactically I think for certain we’ll have a chat and talk about when he plays that role he needs to be in more advanced positions. He got the ball too deep in the field too many times. He was the one making the forward passes but there was no one to support the forwards.”
Williams should be able to adjust tactically to the attacking midfield role in future games if necessary. But it likely won’t come naturally. That reality is why RSL needs to get a healthy Morales, the team’s highest-paid player, onto the pitch ASAP. Not just for the short term either. Morales needs to be out there week after week after week. Therefore if he’s still questionable for this Saturday’s game at FC Dallas, Kreis will have a tough decision ahead of him. Having lost all five games at Dallas (0-5) in team history, RSL needs its best players on the field to have a chance. If Morales is pushed back too soon he could re-aggravate his groin injury, setting his recovery back even further.
If you were RSL’s head coach, how would you handle the scenario?