Here's some reaction from the Real Salt Lake locker room after they advanced to the Western Conference final with a 3-2 aggregate series win over Sounders FC:
RSL HEAD COACH JASON KREISOn if he expected the game to go as it did) “Yeah, I knew that at some point it was going to be like them wave after wave, serving balls into our box and seeing how we dealt with them. I expected – I really did expect us to be better with the ball than we were tonight. I felt like we were really hurried. We got in a lot of good spots early in the game to win the ball and then just gave it right back. So we never were able to gain any ground or get out of our half or keep things in their end for long stretches and it was a choppy game, which doesn’t help us to gain any kind of rhythm. It felt like any time a Seattle player fell in the first half, there was a whistle right behind it and a free kick against us. That made things difficult and they just kept serving it into our box and the entire night was a difficult night. Credit to Seattle and credit to their crowd for creating that atmosphere and credit to the team for putting us under that kind of pressure and I think that what you saw was that this is a very, very good team that went out in the first round of the playoffs which is, I think, disappointing.” On missing two of his starting center-backs) “Yeah, obviously our choices were one of three: we could pull [Robbie] Russell into the middle, we could pull [Chris] Wingert into the middle, or we could play Rauwshan McKenzie. And the choice was, obviously, when you get to the playoffs, you’re looking for guys that have enough experience and have been there and done that before, so that left us with Russell and Wingert and on talking to both of them, Wingert felt like he wanted to do it. He felt more comfortable doing it. He’s a little bit more of a vocal player so it felt like the right choice to me. It wasn’t perfect, certainly. To be fair, it was a night that our center-backs were going to be very busy. With the amount of balls that were served into their forwards, they forced a lot of mistakes. But we need to take the next couple of days and really review the video critically with those two players because if they’re going to be in there again, we’re going to need improved performance.”
On the foul resulting in a penalty kick that Osvaldo Alonso was able to convert) “I thought it was a travesty, an absolute travesty. Our player got pulled down and for some – I don’t know what happened, if he just got color-blind at that moment or what, but that was ridiculous.”
On what it means to him for his players to come up to Seattle and hang onto the lead and move on to the next round) “It’s important. I think that it’s funny. I’m sitting there going, ‘Isn’t this our year?’ Watching the series actually, isn’t this our year? Four days ago we’re just completely dominant and tonight we’re back on our heels and being dominated. In the span of four days, sometimes that can be difficult to figure out but our guys battled through and believed in each other and kept at it and kept their nose down through some very, very difficult play, difficult decisions by the referee and a difficult atmosphere. But we move on and we’ll look for a better performance in the next round.” On if he was worried after Seattle’s second goal and the ensuing swarming attack) “Of course. I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘Oh, for sure, I thought we were going to be fine.’ No, I was very, very concerned. But again, our guys fought through and kept battling and ended up making some good plays at the end of that game to move us on.”
Never miss a local story.
On the decision to pull Alvaro Saborio for Yordany Alvarez in the 76th minute) “The Sabo decision was to change shape and to give us another holding midfielder in front of our back four. It felt like their central pair was getting a little bit too much time in space, especially at the top of our box. I think that was a really good decision because Yordany ended up being critical on a couple of plays. And then [Javier] Morales, he wouldn’t have come out but he had gotten really fatigued. This is going to be a challenging situation, let’s face it. Javi hasn’t played matches in a very long time so to ask him to play three matches in a week may be difficult.” On if there’s a way to turn the negatives from tonight into positives) “Absolutely. I think that in some ways it may have been good that we didn’t play that well tonight, to get our feet back on the ground and to say to a team that won the game 3-0 that that was probably the peak of our peak, and this may be the low of our low. So we need to perform somewhere in the middle this weekend.”