Maybe those three months of seemingly unjustified optimism by Real Salt Lake wasn't just a form of denial after all.

During Saturday night's 2-1 win over D.C. United, RSL looked like a pretty decent soccer team, and one couldn't help but wonder why winning its first game took so long.

Was it as simple as acquiring rookie Robbie Findley?

Or for that matter, was it as simple as acquiring Alecko Eskandarian, Ritchie Kotschau and Jean-Martial Kipre and then blending that trio into a lineup with a healthy Carey Talley and a confident Nick Rimando?

A combination of all of it contributed to Real's first win of the 2007 season, something Kreis believed might take a while when he took over as head coach in early May. Don't be mistaken, if a magic spray existed that could've produced victories sooner, Kreis would've definitely been buying it by the bucket-load on eBay. Instead, the team was forced to endure weeks of frustration, but through it all Kreis saw the team headed in the right direction.

"I said from the beginning it wasn't going to happen overnight," said Kreis. "I would've liked to have been able to come into this position and switch the light and say this is how we want to play and had it happen, but it's not going to be that way; it's taken a long time."

Even though his players weren't being rewarded for their steady progression with wins, Kreis said many positives were occurring, including the unpopular back-to-back scoreless draws.

"Some of those road draws were very, very important to us mentally," he said.

Even after last week's 3-2 loss to Los Angeles, which dropped RSL's record to 0-5-6, Kreis said, "I'm pleased. I really can't say too much bad with what happened tonight."

He then elaborated that the mistakes needed correcting but it was tough to be too disappointed when his team enjoyed its best attacking game of the season.

"I really feel that these guys have worked so hard and done everything we've asked of them. I wish in my heart that we could've got a few better bounces, but also I believe I have a locker room full of guys that believe in what we're doing right now and believe we're going in the right direction," said Kreis.

A week later against D.C., Kreis and his players got confirmation they're heading in the right direction with their first win.

A very proud Eskandarian couldn't help but think it's about time.

"After every game I say it; all the guys have a great attitude, and we're all working our butts off week in and week out, and we deserve better than what we're getting, but you've got to go out and show that, and tonight we did that," said Eskandarian.

It's only one win, however, and Real Salt Lake knows it needs numerous more to climb back into postseason contention. With 18 games remaining, it's six games out of a playoff spot and has some work to do to climb back into contention.

"There's no substitution for feeling a victory; a lot of the guys in this locker room haven't had that feeling in a while, and I really think it will pick it up a little bit, and everyone will know what it takes to get a win," said Eskandarian.

RSL's next match is on the Fourth of July against Toronto FC.


E-mail: jedward@desnews.com