LEHI, Utah — This is the first installment of a weekly roundup of all things Real Salt Lake. It's a chance to look at some tidbits overlooked from the previous week and to point to some things to look forward to in the coming week. Enjoy!
While Real Salt Lake attempt to recover from a week of traveling south to Mexico and then north to Canada, they look forward to a “normal” week ahead with a single game – a home matchup with New York – on the docket.
On the brink of making history
Forty points. That’s where Real Salt Lake currently sit thanks to a scoreless draw against Toronto FC last Saturday. The next point they earn will set an all-time record for the team—and they still have eight games left in the regular season.
In addition, a draw or win against New York on Saturday will tie them for the longest home unbeaten streak in MLS history (22 games). The streak stretches back to May 16, 2009.
[inline_node:316922]Fallout from the Cruz Azul loss
Real Salt Lake suffered a heart-wrenching 5-4 loss to Cruz Azul after being up 3-1 in the late stages of the match. Head coach Jason Kreis mentioned that many teams venture into Mexico City hoping for a draw, but that wasn’t his team’s approach.
“If we walk away with a loss, as we did, we can at least hold our heads up and say we came here to play our soccer and put our best foot forward, and they beat us at it today," he said.
In addition to the extensive travel – Salt Lake to Mexico City to Toronto – and the compact regiment of two games per week that the team has been on this past month, the circumstances surrounding RSL’s loss to Cruz Azul added to the fatigue.
“We put a ton into that game on Wednesday night," Kreis explained. "emotionally, physically – it’s drained us a little bit to have such an awesome occasion right in front of us, and then have it snatched away at the very end."
However, despite the grueling schedule, Kreis lined up up much of the same team against Toronto in the hope they would use the emotional energy from the loss to their benefit against the Reds.
“If you’d asked me before the [Cruz Azul] game," said, "I’d probably have told you that there is going to be quite a bit of rotation [going into the Toronto game], but I think the way that we are probably going to lean is to give a lot of those same players a chance to react."
Shutout was the focus
On the heels of a wild and wooly match in Mexico City, Real Salt Lake had one thing in mind at Toronto: a shutout.
“[Toronto] is a hard place to play, but our team mind set coming in was to get that zero, and it was a hard defensive effort and we got that zero," goalkeeper Nick Rimando said. "It was good and bad to play after the loss to Cruz Azul just Wednesday because you get a bad loss and you want to get right back at it, and this was an opportunity to get right back on track.
"We didn’t get a win, but we wanted have a good defensive effort — and that’s exactly what we had tonight, a full team effort on the defensive end. That was a positive.”
Will Johnson (Canada) and Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica) will each miss this week’s game having been called into international duty for their respective national teams.