LEHI — Monterrey is a very confident team heading into the Champions League finale at Rio Tinto Stadium this Wednesday night.
Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis can understand why, too.
"I think they should feel good about what they did to us, because they did tear us apart, quite frankly," said Kreis, despite RSL earning a 2-2 draw in the first game last week. "They had a lot of chances and probably should've won that game."
Javier Morales' late equalizer in Mexico gives Real Salt Lake a slight edge heading into the second leg, but the cushion could evaporate quickly if RSL doesn't clean some things up tactically from the first game.
Throughout long stretches last Wednesday Monterrey dominated the play and enjoyed the bulk of the chances, and as Kreis pointed out the Rayados should've capitalized with the victory. It might've had the defense not absorbed the pressure so well, but it's a trend RSL can't afford to duplicate.
In a building where the home team is unbeaten in 37 straight games (including friendlies) don't expect a drastic tactical adjustment by Real Salt Lake this Wednesday, but rather a simple recommitment to the details.
"They're good at what they do, and that's attack with numbers. (They) force you to make decisions, they have guys running through with different angles all over the field, and we need to make sure we do a great job of communicating and make sure we're responsible for those runners," said RSL defender Chris Wingert.
Nick Rimando believes a good chunk of the breakdowns were the result of RSL's midfield getting too stretched from sideline to sideline.
"We just have to keep our shape a little bit more. Our outside diamond got a little bit wide," he said. "Their ability to play into the forwards, get it back and go wide was way too easy. We need to take care of the ball."
That's the bottom line if RSL wants to claim the continental championship and earn a berth in the FIFA Club World Cup in December. That's particularly true with Monterrey coming into the match knowing a draw likely isn't good enough.
"They're gonna have to try and come out here and beat us. They're gonna have to come out and get after us and try and win the game, but I think it's important for us to try and win the game as well," said midfielder Will Johnson.
Tuesday's training session at Xango Field was all about the coaching staff putting the players in situations were they had to make quick tactical decisions.
Kreis believes slowing down Monterrey's numerous attacking options is really rather simple, it all comes down to possession.
In the first 15 or 20 minutes of the second half in Monterrey Kreis said his players struggled to figure things out, and were under heavy pressure as a result.
"We kept giving them the ball back, giving them the ball back and giving them the ball back, and having to defend for long stretches of time," he said.
After eventually buckling under the pressure and conceding the go-ahead goal, Kreis praised his players for starting to figure things out the final 20 to 25 minutes.
Against Monterrey this Wednesday though, Real Salt Lake can't afford to be anything but on top of things for 90 minutes.
Real Salt Lake vs. Monterrey
RSL 2, Monterrey 214 comments on this story
Wednesday, 8 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium