SANDY — Reflecting on Real Salt Lake’s experience at the MLS is Back tournament with reporters on Monday, one of the first regrets coach Freddy Juarez brought up was the scoreless draw with Minnesota in group play.
He acknowledged no doubt that Minnesota is a good team — as evidenced by the fact it’s still playing in the semifinals — but he can’t shake the feeling RSL could’ve won that game had it approached it more aggressively.
There are other regrets, like conceding so early to Kansas City and not keeping up with San Jose in the knockout round, but overall Juarez is pleased with how his team progressed while in Orlando.
“When you recap and show it all you’re like there was a lot of positive and we can definitely continue to grow and continue to polish off. We’ll get back to doing what we’re good at and that’s making sure we’re disciplined, but I also think we need to focus on … creating more opportunities going forward,” said Juarez.
“We’re hopeful there’s going to be a season, and we’ve got to get creative with playing ourselves. I know it’s at times a little boring for the guys, but we can’t play outside teams so we’ll continue to do what we did leading up to Orlando.” — RSL coach Freddy Juarez
One of the things Juarez said he was most proud about was how everyone stuck together, both before and during the MLS is Back tournament, and how 20 different players made contributions in the four games.
“The whole lead up to it for me was very professional of the players … there was a lot of things thrown at the guys,” said Juarez.
The challenge now for Real Salt Lake is not losing the progress established in Orlando.
As of now MLS has not announced restart plans for the regular season. All indicators are it will happen, but the when and how remains a mystery.
Juarez said the plan is for RSL to start training again on Wednesday, and then beginning next week treat the week as a normal game week with an intersquad scrimmage on Saturday replacing an actual league match.
“We’re hopeful there’s going to be a season, and we’ve got to get creative with playing ourselves. I know it’s at times a little boring for the guys, but we can’t play outside teams so we’ll continue to do what we did leading up to Orlando,” said Juarez. “Hopefully the games aren’t too far away, I don’t want to do another preseason and I know the players don’t want to do another preseason, so for right now we’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing.”
Maintaining structure and discipline defensively will be the backbone once training resumes, but Juarez acknowledges the attack needs to be better to try and beat teams like Minnesota, Kansas City and San Jose.
“We’re going to continue to work on getting in behind the backline, we need to get in behind the backline and create more chances. I think our team does a good a job in possession for the most part. When we get into our structure we look pretty good but we need to create more chances of danger to the opponent,” said Juarez.
For now that can only happen on the Real Salt Lake Academy practice fields until MLS announces its plans for the 2020 restart.