Real Salt Lake's Robbie Findley had played in every game of the season coming into Saturday night's match with the San Jose Earthquakes. He had started four of the previous nine games, but mostly, he made his mark coming off the bench.
"Everybody likes to start, but when I come off the bench, I try to focus on giving a little spark to the team, some energy," said Findley.
The second-year forward certainly did his job against the 'Quakes. After entering in the 45th minute, he scored three minutes into the second half, breaking a scoreless tie, and he added an assist on the team's second goal to Javier Morales in the 60th minute in helping the team to a 3-1 win.
"He really energized us from the first moment he came on," said RSL coach Jason Kreis. "I thought he was bright and sharp. He has been playing particularly well in the training sessions for the past few weeks. Really, I felt like for a while it was just a matter of time until Robbie puts his best foot forward and tonight he did that."
Findley has not always thrived in coach Jason Kreis' system. His up-and-down play has been maddeningly inconsistent. But if he can reproduce results such as his two-point performance — his goal and assist marked the second of each statistic for the year — both RSL's and the 22-year old's futures look brighter.
His goal came on an atypical play for the speedy player. All seven of his previous goals scored for RSL had come from within the penalty area, most on breakaways. Against San Jose, his tally came from a 23-yard blast that beat the 'keeper to the inside post.
"During the week, coach told me that if I have a player one-on-one to go at him, beat him with my pace," Findley said. "I was able to get by him, and I was wide open. I was feeling good and took the shot."
Kreis feels that if Findley continues with that same offensive approach, he could become increasingly valuable.
"The aggressive mindset he came out with tonight," Kreis said was important. "He was running the ball at players and forcing decisions. That play in particular (Findley's goal), he had cut it inside of his defender and took a wonderful strike. A different goal from Robbie Findley, but he is showing what he is capable of."
The assist to Morales was also impressive. He got the ball just outside the box and could have turned and shot, but he realized the better play was to pass.
"He is a great player in the midfield with great vision," Findley said of his teammate. "He is good at giving balls and moving off of it. He gave it to me and I saw him move. He deserved a goal so I gave it right back to him and he finished it off."
With the Kansas City Wizards coming to town next Saturday, everyone involved with Real is hoping for the same type of effort and play from its young, evolving forward.