RSL: Not their night
TSG spoke with Real Salt Lake fullback Chris Wingert Monday after his team ended up on the wrong side of a 5-0 scoreline on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes.
The impetus of the conversation was to get a sense of just what happened with RSL’s snowball loss and to get an understanding of where the Jason Kreis’s team’s psyche was after the debacle.
Here’s the conversation with Chris with some pearls of insights on his teammates in closing.
Matthew, TSG: What the hell happened out there on Saturday?
You guys looked like Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon this year who unceremoniously fell to Roger Federer. Like the expectation was of the match between those two, you guys were supposed to have a lengthy tug-of-war, but instead one team seized on some momentum and it was lights-out of the opponent. You guys seem to collapse in the second half even before the cards showed up. What happened?
Chris Wingert: I don’t think we collapsed before the card; I’m pretty sure it was still 1-0 at the time.
Letting up four goals once we’re down a man is still not acceptable.
It’s something that we practice quite often in training [being a man down].
Last time we were there [SJ] down a man and a goal, we still had a decent amount of the play and we able to score and tie it up.
The belief that we could still get a result was there and then the wheels kind of fell off. We ended up giving up a bunch of set pieces and we ended up going three in the back; they kind of exposed us and got in a few more times.
TSG: What did you talk about going into the game and what were the tactics? You had lost two previous to San Jose. What did you change based upon those games?
Wingert: I don’t think there was a big change or need for in tactics. We had played well the past two games. We still had a lot of chances in both games; maybe twenty in that second game.
We spoke about being a little bit more focused and more sharp on the defensive end.
We felt we just needed to be a little sharper because they had scored on two set pieces in those losses.
Those should be things that would be pretty easy to fix. We played good soccer those games. We didn’t need to change tactics.
TSG: One of the nice things about Buck Shaw stadium is is how incredibly close to the teams you are and how audible the game is. Having been to many a game at the Buck, I can say that Saturday I watched a SJE opponent who was “the more audibly frustrated team I’ve heard there.”
Not saying the Quakes created it, but did you get the sense it was a more frustrating game as it progressed? Seemed like that from the press box.
Wingert: Not necessarily as it progressed, but right there in the first half. We just weren’t playing that well and the frustration was coming just from that.
We weren’t doing a good job organizationally in the back. We needed to clean some things up there.
But at halftime we went in and we said, “We’re not playing well, but we’re still only down one-nothing, we’re in this game. If we can turn it around in the 2nd half all will be forgotten.”
We felt like we were still in a decent position to do that.
It felt like we had a tough call with everything that happened and things got out of control, went down a man again and they were able to bury us.
Morales: Tough sledding…
TSG: Ok. In regards to Javi Morales — who you got into it with early in the 1st half and then after a stare down late in the first half–Javi seems like a guy that is generally very positive on the pitch, but on Saturday it was clear to an impartial observer that he had let’s say funky body language. That he had some really bad body language.
Is his body language that something you spoke with him about. Was it noticeable for the team? It did seem just very negative.
Wingert: Well, I think, you know, Javi is just a really intense guy and there are going to be times on the pitch when you are getting on each other. It happened with me and him, and Jamison.
You’re trying to sort things out and it’s not like [softer voice] “Hey, you think, maybe you could do this a little different.”
You’re going to get on each other; it’s nothing personal.
Javi wanted me to play the ball in behind.
I was trying to play it into the midfield and then out to the wing…and we were kind of having trouble getting it out there and I was saying to Javi: ‘I’m trying to get in first so we can keep the ball on the ground and knock it.’
It’s a situation where maybe we needed to play a little more direct. We talked about it at halftime.
We’re normally a possession-oriented team, a team that likes to keep it, knock it and for whatever reason that wasn’t working in the first half and maybe we needed to get the ball in there end and show ‘em it down in there end to get things going.
But I don’t think that Javi was anymore negative than normal; it’s just more about being a competitor. There are going to be times on the field in a tense situation and you have to get things accomplished.
TSG: There was also a lot of hollering at a young player here, Luis Gil.
It could be said that Jason Kries unfairly put Gil in a situation where it would be difficult to success. Now I know he had an excellent game last weekend, but that was at home against the cellar dweller Portland Timbers.
Here was a young player on the road, against a seasoned opponent, against a veteran midfield that was on-form and in a midfield that would be tasked 4 vs. 3 as Javi, you know, usually pushes up pretty high into a forward role. Do you think Jason put Luis in a tough position? How do you think he played?
Wingert: Well, not at all. That just shows the fact that we believe in Luis and we believe in his ability. He’s not like he’s a rookie and this wasn’t his first match. He’s more than capable of getting the job.
We believe in his talent and his work ethic. The team as a whole we struggled. It wasn’t Luis’s fault.
Luis has done great for us, especially for his age.
Luis is already incredibly mature and he’s got a great attitude and work ethic and that’s part of being on this team and him having some success.
I don’t think it was an unfair position to put him in at all.
He’s going to be a really big-time player. He’s already a very good player. And he’s only what 18, 19. He’s really going to be big-time in a couple of years and hopefully we’ll be able to keep him around for awhile.
TSG: But do you think he played poorly though on the evening or was in a tough spot?