It usually takes extreme focus to score goals at the highest levels of soccer. That focus seemed to be lacking for Real Salt Lake in last Saturday's season-opener.
Despite 17 shots, RSL failed to score a goal of its own the lone tally the result of a Chicago own goal. Had it locked down an insurance goal on what seemed like a half-dozen decent chances earlier in the game, Cuauhtemoc Blanco's late-game heroics would've been a moot point.
Developing that finishing touch takes time, but judging by Tuesday's training session at Xango Field in Lehi, RSL isn't going to sit around and wait for the finishing to magically appear.
Following the team's 70-minute practice, coach Jason Kreis had the five forwards and three goalkeepers stick around for another 20 minutes to work exclusively on finishing, but more specifically fatigued finishing.
"No question we're going to ask our forwards to do a lot of work; they're going to have to work on both sides of the ball," said Kreis. "So they're going to be tired and forced into situations where they're going to have to be very clinical while they're tired, so that exercise was basically to do both things, make them extremely tired and then ask them to finish."
Kreis said it's not just the finishing that takes time to develop. Sometimes it's the cross that needs improving, or sometimes it's the pass that leads to the cross or the shot.
"What happens in the final third is the last thing that comes," said Kreis.
RSL midfielder Andy Williams isn't too concerned about last Saturday's missed chances. He's seen these situations before, and he believes once the team's quartet of forwards tallies its first goal, many more will follow.
"I know there's a lot of pressure on them right now, but eventually it will come," said Williams.
Yura Movsisyan and Fabian Espindola got the start in last Saturday's game against Chicago, and they were eventually replaced by Robbie Findley and Kenny Deuchar. Any combination of the four is quite possible for this weekend's game at Chivas USA. Kreis might opt to give Movsisyan or Espindola another start, or he might insert the speedy Findley and towering Deuchar.
With possession the utmost priority when playing at the Home Depot Center, Kreis will likely go with the combination that suits his needs in that capacity.
Looking back on Saturday's game, Movsisyan believes he and everyone else did a good job of creating chances, they just weren't focused enough on the finishing. Movsisyan, in particular, had six shots, with only two hitting the target."It was tough. It was the first game, and there were a lot of nerves," he said, adding that extra practice on finishing is always good for young players. "You can only learn and benefit from guys like Jason (Kreis), who throw out their ideas and have scored all their lives."