Real Salt Lake: RSL coach Jason Kreis hoping to avenge last year's U.S. Open Cup embarrassment

Published: Monday, May 27 2013 3:30 p.m. MDT

Head coach Jason Kreis of Real Salt Lake honors the flag with his team prior to their matchup against the New York Red Bulls during the home opener at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Saturday, March 17, 2012.

Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

SANDY — As long as he’s been Real Salt Lake’s head coach, Jason Kreis has talked about the importance of the U.S. Open Cup and taking the tournament seriously.

Whether it’s a coincidence or not, success has never come.

In an effort to motivate his players ahead of this Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup third-round match against lower division Atlanta, Kreis threw down the gauntlet after last Saturday’s draw with Chicago.

Reflecting on last year’s 3-1 third-round loss to Minnesota Stars FC at Rio Tinto Stadium, Kreis called it “the worst night in the history of the club.”

In what should’ve been a straight-forward match, particularly after RSL ownership purchased the rights to host the game from Minnesota, the players rewarded the ownership with a dreadful performance in front of a huge U.S. Open crowd exceeding 17,000.

With NASL club Atlanta in town for Tuesday’s 7:30 p.m. kickoff, Kreis said a similar performance is unacceptable.

“We’re going to take a very aggressive approach to the tournament this year. We want to win it. I want to win it. The club wants to win it, and hopefully the players want to win it,” said Kreis.

A year ago, the players obviously didn’t share the same important mentality as Kreis and ownership, but he’s doing everything he can to convince them otherwise.

“It’s a chance at a tournament, a chance at a trophy, a chance at allocation money, and a chance to get ourselves back in CONCACAF. There’s a lot of good things about that tournament,” said Kreis. “Knowing that we have the first two games at home could put us a really good place.”

The winner of Tuesday’s RSL-Atlanta match will host the San Jose Earthquakes-Charleston Battery winner June 12 in the fourth round of the 100th Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The single-elimination tournament is open to all amateur and professional teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer.

Real Salt Lake’s all-time Open Cup record is 5-8, and the deepest it has ever advanced is the quarterfinals back in 2007 and 2011. The club’s record against minor league teams is 2-2 and its record against MLS teams is 3-6 — two wins against San Jose and one against Kansas City.

RSL is in the midst of a five-game homestand, which could stretch to six games if it beats Atlanta.

The Silverbacks are coached by Brian Haynes, a former teammate of Kreis’ back in Dallas in 1997 when they won the U.S. Open. Their technical director is former U.S. Soccer star Eric Wynalda.

Atlanta is 2-2-1 in NASL play so far this season, and advanced to the Open Cup third round by beating the Georgia Revolution of the NPSL last week 3-2.

Following Tuesday’s match, RSL jumps right back into league play against San Jose this Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.

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