To get everyone ready for Atlanta United’s match against Real Salt Lake, we spoke with RSL Soapbox’s Matt Montgomery to get his take on their success this season, some names to keep an eye on, and the notorious Trey.
DSS: What have been some of the keys to RSL’s success this season?
RS: It’s a funny thing, 2018. I know we have been more successful than in the past four years, but it still feels sometimes like we haven’t been. That, of course, comes with the territory of late concessions and ... early concessions. It’s not an entirely pleasant thing.
That said, I do think we have been successful, and I think we’ve scraped out a bunch of points when we probably deserved one or none. Often this season, our goal seems to have been to outscore the opposition. It sometimes works, it sometimes doesn’t.
By and large, our key, for me, has been about getting the most out of players like Damir Kreilach, who ostensibly came in to play deeper in our midfield but has largely been occupying forward spots. It’s also been about understanding when a player’s form is in an ebb and when it’s in a flow. Understanding that has been crucial for our coaching staff to know when to rotate our playing personnel.
I don’t think we have much business being as close to the top of the Western Conference as we are now. With the number of injuries our squad has sustained, we probably shouldn’t be. There’s something fascinating about this team.
DSS: Who are a couple RSL players for Atlanta fans to look out for on Saturday?
RS: Kreilach is certainly a point to focus on, but I don’t think it’s easy to define what he’s doing. He and Albert Rusnak have been largely sharing central attacking duties, so he’ll pop up all over the field. He’s not the fastest player and he’s very tall, but he does have a way of timing late runs like nobody’s noticed him. He’s been a valuable asset to have on the team.
I’d also argue for Aaron Herrera, who very quietly is going about having a spectacular rookie season. He’s very fast, his one-on-one defending is growing, and he reads the game well. We’ve needed that sort of influence at outside back, especially with Tony Beltran missing nearly all of 2018 through injury.
DSS: RSL legend “Hand them out” Trey resigned earlier in the week. How will the team continue their post-match press conferences without him?
"Trey, hand 'em out!" — Mike Petke's illustrated guide to his disagreements with MLS refereeing and disciplinary procedures. -d https://t.co/N7aW4QoI5u— Total Soccer Show (@TotalSoccerShow) July 23, 2017
RS: Trey Fitz-Gerald was one of the first people at Real Salt Lake following expansion, and his departure doesn’t spell good things overall for Real Salt Lake. As for press conferences, I don’t think anybody can really tame Mike Petke, so it won’t make much difference.