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Real Salt Lake needs to refocus, regroup

Published: Sunday, May 29 2011 11:59 p.m. MDT

SANDY — Marcos Mondaini, the Chivas USA forward who snapped Javier Morales' ankle, will serve the last of his four-game suspension this Wednesday when his team hosts Vancouver.

Unfortunately for Morales his return is months and months away, and his services are desperately missing for Real Salt Lake.

Since Morales went down with the potentially season-ending injury, RSL is 0-1-2 including a shocking home loss to Seattle on Saturday night.

It's tough to pin everything on Morales' absence, but the results speak for themselves.

"We're just trying to get things going around here again. Trying to find a way to fill Javier's shoes and find a way to get back to playing good attacking soccer," said Will Johnson. "So far since Javier went down and what not, as a group we haven't stepped up. We've let ourselves down on numerous occasions. It just hasn't been good enough."

Unfortunately for Johnson, he won't be around for at least the next three weeks as he joins the Canadian National Team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

He admits it feels like he's "jumping ship right now," but said it's an honor to join his national team. He can only hope his teammates get things sorted out while he's gone, but based on RSL's current form, there's no telling if that will actually happen.

"We're going to need everybody. It's gonna be vital that we stick together, it's going to be vital that we stay positive. We've got a lot of games coming up in June, and it's going to be important to get points," said defender Nat Borchers.

After Saturday's loss Kreis said not enough players are voluntarily taking on more responsibility to fill Morales' void. Fabian Espindola wasn't one of the players, with Kreis instead praising his effort and desire for the ball.

Ned Grabavoy became the third different player to start at attacking midfield on Saturday, supplanting Collen Warner and Andy Williams who got the two previous starts for Morales. Collectively RSL's attack was better than its previous two games, but things are still very much a work in progress.

"It's just a situation where we gotta work through this," said Grabavoy. "The soccer might not be as good as it usually is, our finishing and that final pass in the final third might not be as good as it usually is, but we're going to have to will ourselves through this little bad patch that we're in. There's a lot of games left. We just have to keep trying to do the right things."

Despite all of its recent troubles, Real Salt Lake still has 17 points through nine games and most of the season is still upcoming with 25 games remaining.

Nelson Gonzalez, who scored a goal in just 15 minutes of action on Saturday, should see an increased work load over the next month. Not only is he the logical replacement for Johnson, but he's definitely the type of player who wants the ball.

"It's going to be hard to leave him off the line-up next week," admitted Kreis.

email: jedward@desnews.com

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