SANDY — Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis thought he had delivered his message. He hopes now, going into a home match against the New York Red Bulls, the players know exactly what he is saying.
Coming off a pair of 2-0 losses — the first back-to-back losses in a stretch of 44 matches that dates back to April 2010 — Kreis attempted to paint the picture after a Friday training session.
"I said some things before the last game that I don't think were clearly understood," he said. "I wasn't saying this is a doomsday situation. I was saying that we need to have an overall effort and get a win."
While RSL (9-5-6) has found success at home, it faces a daunting task in taking on the dangerous New York Red Bulls tonight at 7 p.m. New York (6-5-12) boasts Thierry Henry, who is tied for the league lead in goals with 11.
"Henry's a special guy," RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. "He can do some things to change the game even if it looks like his team is out of it."
Kreis agrees a main focus will be Henry.
"(Henry) is granted immediate respect. There's not too many opponents you play that have players like that," he said.
Despite New York's recent struggles — they are just 1-3-5 in their past nine matches — RSL knows it won't be easy.
"We know how much firepower they have," RSL defender Chris Wingert said. "But it's nice to have such a good home crowd. That certainly helps us, and hopefully it spurs us on to get three points."
The Red Bulls — who have dropped in the Eastern Conference standings from first to third place in the last eight weeks — have earned only a pair of points in their last four matches against MLS opponents.2 comments on this story
On top of that, New York is looking for its first-ever regular-season win against RSL in Utah. Real has owned that matchup, 2-0-4, including going 1-0-1 at home against the Red Bulls last year.
Although Beckerman knows the urgency of the situation after dropping a home decision to Columbus and a road match at Kansas City, he says it's important to not play tense.
"A lot of teams are in worse shape than us, and RSL has been in a lot worse shape than this in the past, so it's nothing to panic about," he said.
A slump like this, Kreis said, can be turned into a positive.
"I'm a believer that difficult times can make stronger men," he said.