Photo Credit: Taylor Fugate (smackdowntay.blogspot.com)
Jason Kreis said it himself, when the stakes are high and everyone’s watching Real Salt Lake seems to fumble and fall.
Humor me as I check out some of the statistics. Real Salt Lake is dominant at Rio Tinto. They always have been until lately. But look at the games in front of record crowds: Attendance of 20,382 two weeks ago against LA, 3-2 loss; Attendance of 20,415 against Chivas USA earlier this season, 1-0 loss; Attendance of 20,463 against Cruz Azul in a very neutral atmosphere with plenty of fans for the Mexican side, 3-1 win; Attendance of 20,507 in the 2011 season opening victory against the Galaxy, 4-1 win; Attendance of 20,738 for the CONCACAF Champions League final against Monterrey, 1-0 loss; Attendance of 20,762 at the game in which Javi made his return at the end of the 2011 season, 3-0 loss. What can be said of that? Four losses out of the six most popular games? From the team’s view it’s pretty bad. From the club’s standpoint, it’s awful. Winning in front of big crowds is what gets you a lot more fans a lot faster.
So why does this happen?
It’s hard to point a finger at one thing in particular. But if you were to choose the biggest reasons behind Real’s stage fright, you’d have to look at overconfidence and frustration.
Real aren’t a cocky team. They don’t go around getting themselves in the press for saying things they shouldn’t or talking bad on others or blaming poor games on anything but themselves. But when Real is playing well and forget to check themselves, they sometimes drop a few bad ones. Look at the Chivas USA game played at the RioT earlier this season. Real was coming off of an unseen spectacular start to their season and were coming home heroes. I don’t think their minds were too worried about a measly Chivas side that had struggled to start off the season. They played a strange game. Real Salt Lake was going through the motions, made a mistake, went down a goal and never recovered.
Frustration has been a killer against Real Salt Lake similar to the way it plays against the Men’s US National Team. They’re cruising along and come to a game in which the world seems to combine against them. They let in silly goals, and they cannot score for the life of them. While RSL’s frustration hasn’t reached to the level of the USMNT before the Jurgen Klinsmann era it’s still a major factor. Take a look at the CCL finale against Monterrey in which Fabian Espindola rushed himself a bit as he squandered an early chance and wasn’t able to play to his full potential for the rest of the game.
So what can you expect from a Real Salt Lake squad on a three game losing skid? A rebound.
There won’t be as many fans packed into Rio Tinto Stadium, the expectations will be lowered. Real will be taking on a Seattle squad that has been struggling tremendously as of late. It puts RSL in a prime position to overcome their opposition and really throw things back together!
GO REAL SALT LAKE!!!