Real's in the cup final Sunday night | Buzz Blog

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Real's in the cup final Sunday night

Posted By on November 19, 2009, 2:45 PM

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So here they come.

Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis’ scrappers will take on the glamour boys of American soccer, LA Galaxy, in the Major League Soccer final this Sunday night at 6 p.m in Seattle. ---

Ask Kreis if he’s in seventh heaven, he admits, “Yes, a little bit.”

So how did they get here? Two months ago they were written off, local hacks all but ready to pronounce RIP over Kreis’ tenure in Sandy.

“Three things have made the difference,” he says. Players taking responsibility for their performance, hard work, and changing the system they play from a “stagnant” 4-3-3 to “a very dynamic” 4-4-2.

Midfielder Andy Williams, Will Johnson and captain Kyle Beckerman all made key contributions in recent games, helping to lift the team to the level they’re playing at now, Kreis acknowledges. Beckerman, he says, “needed to be a stronger leader, to take more responsibility,” and came to the forefront. But then, he adds, all 11 players stepped up to the plate.

But then, as Real’s long-suffering fans know all too well, their players work best when the odds can’t be worse.

Which surely makes Sunday night’s match one for the ages.

“I did believe that we could,” Kreis says about making it to the cup final. “I just didn’t expect that we would.” Next year was when he anticipated he’d being demonstrating his wife’s dapper taste in sartorial elegance on the sidelines before the nation’s soccer lovers.

So now Kreis can hang up the bull whip. He doesn’t have to motivate his players anymore, after a season that often saw him all but tearing out his hair in frustration at his players’ seeming lack of interest in playing at the level he knew they were capable of.

Real’s front office is not doing a watch party this time round. They’re all in Seattle as of tomorrow. But you can probably find a good crowd at the Republican bar on State Street cheering on the Claret-and-Cobalt.

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