LEHI — Jason Kreis has been known to bluff from time to time with his comments to the media, and that might indeed be the case again this week.
Real Salt Lake's coach hinted to the media earlier this week that his team may take a conservative approach to its upcoming road games at Kansas City and Philadelphia.
It might be a calculated move on Kreis' part.
MLS coaches are extremely secretive with their lineups and tactics in fear of giving an opponent an advantage. It seems odd then that Kreis would openly admit several days before a match that his team will likely play conservatively.
In fact, if anything, the opposite would seem true.
After Real Salt Lake lost to FC Dallas a few weeks back, using a conservative 4-5-1 formation for most of the game, Kreis admitted second-guessing the decision.
"If I had it to do over again, I'd stick with the 4-4-2 and we'd be real arrogant about things, and we'd just say 'We're going to play the way we do, and if we lose a game it's because somebody beat us at our game,' " Kreis said.
With upcoming road games this Saturday and Wednesday, this next week represents a golden opportunity to learn from previous decisions and as an elite team in MLS be "arrogant."
Kreis admits the Dallas match will impact his thought process.
"I hope I'm smarter than Pavlov's dog and learn lessons. If I make a decision and go one way and don't feel like it works and the consensus amongst the team and the staff is that it didn't work, I hope I don't continue to beat my head against the wall and make changes," Kreis said.
That statement seems to contradict comments earlier this week about playing conservatively. It seems to be the classic case of an MLS coach trying to throw an opposing coach off a tactical scent.
Kreis' best bluff as a head coach was during Game 2 of last year's playoff series against Columbus. With a slim 1-0 lead after Game 1, Kreis and his players talked all week about going into Columbus and defending like crazy.
Real Salt Lake ended up doing the opposite and winning the series.
After that match, Findley said the plan was always to come out and play Columbus with an aggressive mentality like the match was at Rio Tinto Stadium. Kreis just didn't want to give Columbus' coach any advance warning of that approach.
For the most part, RSL has tried to maintain that strategy this year. It hasn't always produced results, but Real Salt Lake seems to be at its best when it dictates the flow of a match instead of an opponent.
Based on player comments following the Dallas match, RSL players want to play their brand of soccer every time they step on the field. So against the fifth-place team in the East in Kansas City this Saturday, expect Kreis to let Real Salt Lake's players be the aggressor.