SANDY, Utah – For the first time since June, Real Salt Lake is looking up in the standings.
But even though RSL’s 2-0 loss at Seattle last Friday stings a bit, the Claret-and-Cobalt knows it needs to put it behind them to have any chance of winning the club’s first Supporters’ Shield.
"I think as long as we can all be honest with ourselves, which is what we've tried to instill in this group for a very long time, is the ability to be honest when your not at your best or maybe don't give your best — to be able to hold your hand up for that and then move on. And we've done that," RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis said on Tuesday.
With San Jose paying a visit to Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday, RSL will have a chance to immediately show it has put the loss in the rear-view mirror.
"It has happened throughout the season here and there," said midfielder Ned Grabavoy. "We have another home game coming up, so we have a great chance to have a quick response. … We just need to try to get better and clean up some of the things we did last week. I know the soccer wasn't great, but I think we can all give a little bit more energy wise and fight wise, organization. Some of those things are the things we need to clean up more than anything."
With only five regular season games remaining, it is crunch time for RSL. They know a slump now could even see the team fall out of the playoffs after leading the league for nearly three months.
"I think we just need to focus on how we're playing, "said Grabavoy. "Look, I mean we lost the game up there, but Seattle has been pretty hot here for a while. They have been winning games and climbing back into things as have other teams in the league — and other teams have dropped off. So we are still right there, still where we want to be, but I think the focus needs to be on us. We need to play better and obviously get better results, but play better and really start to round into form to end the season."
And while it would be nice for RSL to take time to try to correct any thing that went wrong, with such little time remaining and the Western Conference race still bunched up, now isn't the time to worry about fixing issues. Results are the only thing that matter now.
"I think right now, probably the only thing that becomes important when you get to this time of the year is getting the results," said Kreis. "We talked a lot about performances and trying to win the right way over the majority of the season, but you get to the end of the season, and it's all about getting the three points when you're at home and getting the result when you're away. That is what is going to give us the best chance to win a Supporters’ Shield and do well in the playoffs."