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Real Salt Lake isn't capitalizing on opportunities so far in 2013

Published: Friday, April 12 2013 9:53 a.m. MDT

Real's Alvaro Saborio scores as Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids play to a 1-1 tie in the home opening game of the MLS soccer season Saturday in Sandy.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

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SANDY — Jason Kreis doesn’t believe there’s any reason to be concerned about Real Salt Lake’s lack of scoring so far this season, which includes shutouts in three of six matches.

“I don’t tend to look at games and say ‘oh we got shutout.’ I would tend to look at a game and say ‘we didn’t get enough scoring chances,’” Kreis said.

Six games into the year, Real Salt Lake has certainly created enough of opportunities. It ranks third in Major League Soccer with 84 shots, and second with 29 shots on goal.

Despite the abundance of opportunities, RSL has scored just five goals, having been blanked at D.C. United, FC Dallas and Colorado.

“We had clear-cut scoring chances in all those games, and really at decisive moments, where if we’re just better on the final touch, we’re probably feeling a lot different about ourselves right now, or you guys are feeling a lot different about us,” Kreis said.

RSL could’ve easily walked out of Dallas with a draw on March 23 had rookie Devon Sandoval buried a point-blank rebound that was miraculously blocked by a defender. The same could be said about last weekend’s match at Colorado after Alvaro Saborio had a penalty kick saved in the 10th minute of a 1-0 loss.

“I can’t get too down about it. I just say it’s a little bit unlucky and a little bit of lack of focus on that last touch,” Kreis said.

That lack of finishing haunted Real Salt Lake last season as it was shut out in its last five games over all competitions. Wholesale changes were made to improve that efficiency, including adding multiple speedy forwards to complement Saborio up top.

Unfortunately for RSL, strikers Saborio and Robbie Findley have only started three of six games together because of injuries and national team call-ups. As they get more accustomed to playing together, and midfielder Javier Morales works his way back to full fitness, it’s hard to imagine the goals won’t follow suit.

“There’s points we’ve left on the table the first six games, but it is what it is. We just gotta continue to be focused on being better in our very next one,” Kreis said.

Just as Kreis stressed in the preseason, patience is a must with this team.

It hasn’t helped either that five of Real Salt Lake’s first seven matches are on the road this season. It’s no secret that RSL plays better at home, and that might be even more pronounced this season with several young players making increased contributions.

Fortunately for RSL, after this Saturday’s match in Vancouver, seven of its next 10 matches are at Rio Tinto Stadium including three straight against Chivas, Los Angeles and Vancouver from April 20 to May 4.

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