When it comes to scoring goals, Real Salt Lake is a middle-of-the-pack team in Major League Soccer despite leading the league in shots.
RSL coach Jason Kreis believes his team is creating enough opportunities, but the confidence just isn't there to finish them off. He's hoping a visit from Mexican club Santos Laguna for tonight's international friendly at Rice-Eccles Stadium helps cure the scoring rut.
"Hopefully it allows our players to relax in front of goal, and hopefully a couple things go in, and then they've got the confidence back," said Kreis.
Despite the match being against one of the premier clubs in Mexico, the bottom line is it's still an exhibition match with unlimited subs. Psychologically, the pressure associated with finishing won't be the same as a league match where RSL has scored just three times in the past six matches.
Whether or not the exhibition status of tonight's 8 o'clock match enables the players to put away chances more easily remains to be seen. Either way, multiple players are going to have the chance to prove themselves.
"We're going to give some other players some opportunities, but we're also going to play all of our first-team players as well. We're really going to mix things up," said Kreis. "It gives us the opportunities to look at some other guys that I don't think have had the first team opportunities."
For rookies like Kevin Reiman, Alex Nimo and David Horst, tonight would seem like the perfect opportunity to show the coaching staff what they can do against quality competition.
Santos Laguna finished last season with an impressive 11-1-5 mark, the best record in Mexico's Primera Division.
Tonight's match with RSL is Santos Laguna's final tune-up before the second-annual SuperLiga kicks off this weekend. The eight-team competition features the top teams from Mexico and MLS, and Santos Laguna is paired in Group B with Chivas USA, New England and Pachuca.
Its first match is this Sunday at New England.
With a much more important match a few days away, it's doubtful Santos Laguna will play anyone longer than 60 minutes. With that said, the players who are on the field will be trying to prove to the coach that they belong in the starting lineup for the SuperLiga."It's a fantastic opportunity, they're fantastic opposition. You like to test yourself against quality opponents, and this is certainly a quality opponent," said Kreis.
RSL on the air
Real Salt Lake vs. Santos Laguna
Today, 8 p.m.
Radio: 700 AM TV: None