Jason Kreis, coach of Real Salt Lake, a title favorite going into the 2011 season, aims for his team to play the Barcelona style of aesthetically pleasing soccer based on a short passing game and swift movement.
“It has taken some time for us to get a critical mass -- the right number of players that are technically gifted enough and smart enough to play the way that we are trying to,” says Kreis, who took the RSL helm in 2007 and guided Salt Lake to the 2009 title. “I think we try in a lot of ways emulate that style, I think it would be very fair to say that we have Latin American players on our team who like to play that style and it is more a natural fit."
It is an approach, writes Simon Evans, that stands in contrast to the perhaps rather dated view of MLS as a physical league with teams that prefer to play a direct form of the game.
“I always think it is going to be a physical league because we have very good athletes, we have strong, big guys that can get the job done and can stretch their bodies maybe a bit further than in other places," Kreis says. “But I would also say that some of the physical side of our game is because we haven’t raised our technical ability as high as it probably should be. ... Because of that we have had a lot of poor first touches and poor tactical decisions on the ball which means that defenders can really jump into things.