SANDY — Damir Kreilach recorded Real Salt Lake’s first hat trick in four years on Saturday night, and he had every reason to talk about how great RSL played and what a special night it was for him personally.
Instead he did something that nobody within the organization is surprised by — he deflected the credit to a pair of defenders who kept superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic off the scoreboard. After being asked to handle the postgame interviews with the media, Kreilach declined and asked that Justen Glad and Nick Besler go instead.
“What impresses me more (than the goals) is that someone like Damir scores a hat trick tonight and then when he’s asked to come into a press conference (he sent) Justen and Nick,” said RSL coach Mike Petke. “It helps me and it helps the locker room and that’s the type of player I want playing for me. It has nothing to do with him, and he’s proven that since the first moment he’s been here.”
Glad and Besler addressed the media in the press conference instead and were noticeably proud of their night at the office in the 6-2 win over the L.A. Galaxy.
“The team was motivated all week to not only to shut out Zlatan, but for the playoff push. It was a huge win for us tonight, and I couldn’t be happier,” said Glad.
Kreilach did eventually talk to a few media members in the more laid-back setting of the locker room, and not surprisingly he spread the credit among his teammates.
“I’m very, very happy about it, but I’m much more happy about three points,” said Kreilach, who then raved about the defensive effort. “All four in the back, Kyle (Beckerman) and Sunny — they worked unbelievably, and then it was so much easier for the four guys in front. It looks like a team.”
Kreilach’s hat trick also appears to have helped Petke solve his strike conundrum.
It’s hard to imagine Petke starting anyone else but Kreilach up top the rest of the season. In fairness, Kreilach was playing more of a “false nine” role as he and attacking midfielder Albert Rusnak were pretty interchangeable throughout the match.
They combined to score five of RSL’s six goals and now each have 10 goals on the season.
“There were two positions tonight that we didn’t identify to our players that they were playing, that was Damir and Albert. Someone had to occupy the center backs, and someone always had to drop in and I think most of the time Damir was the higher one,” said Petke.
Kreilach also started up top the week before against Colorado and scored the game’s first goal in the sixth minute before the match became a comedy of errors for the Rapids, who received two red cards in the first half.
Over the past three games, Rusnak has scored five goals and Kreilach has scored four, and they’re among only 20 players in the league with double-digit goals.1 comment on this story
Only three other teams — Houston, New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls — have multiple players with multiple goals.
With six games remaining and RSL getting results at home and away, the duo should continue to keep scoring goals in what has quickly become a historic season for the club.
There has only been one other season in franchise history when RSL had two multi-goal scorers, which came way back in 2011. Alvaro Saborio scored 11 goals that year with Fabian Espindola adding 10.
It’s hard to imagine that Kreilach and Rusnak both don’t get to at least 12 goals with their recent form.