SANDY, Utah (Friday, May 25, 2023) – Real Salt Lake (4-6-3, 15 pts., 11th West) concludes a fourth consecutive three-game week Saturday in St. Paul, Minn., traveling to face Major League Soccer’s Minnesota United FC (5-5-3, 18 pts, 6th West) in one of several MLS Matchday 15 contests.
For local coverage, tune in at 7:00p MT for KSL Radio pre-game w/ David James & Jay Nolly via www.KSLSports.com / 1280 AM / 97.5 FM and www.KSLNewsRadio.com / 1160 AM).
RSL arrives in the Land of 10,000 Lakes Saturday on the heels of back-to-back road wins in multiple competitions against Rocky Mountain Cup rival Colorado, defeating the Rapids 3-2 Saturday in League action prior to a heavily-rotated 1-0 win Wednesday in 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup action. Should RSL find a way to capture all three points Saturday in Minnesota, the Claret-and-Cobalt would have a three-game road win streak for the first time since 2017, and its first three-game/nine-point week since 2013.
RSL has never before, in its 19-year history, won three consecutive road matches in a single week.
RSL @ MINNESOTA PREVIEW
Real Salt Lake (4-6-3, 15 pts., 11th West) remains on the road for three consecutive matches away, with another MLS road tilt at Minnesota Saturday prior to hosting LA Galaxy each of the next two Wednesdays, May 31 (MLS) and June 7 (Open Cup).
Saturday marks RSL’s third visit to Allianz Field – where it won to open the 2021 campaign and lost in last year’s trip – and the eighth all-time road match against the Loons, with RSL posting only a 1-5-1 all-time mark in Minnesota, being outscored 18-9. Conversely, RSL in unbeaten at home against Adrian Heath’s side, with two wins & three draws in five meetings. The teams drew in the 2020 Orlando “MLS is Back” bubble as well.
A year ago, RSL spotted the hometown Loons a pair of first-half goals – one in the 9th minute and another at 48+’ – before going down 0-3 after an hour. RSL goals just six minutes apart from Jefferson Savarino and Anderson Julio provided tension for the final 15 and stoppage, but RSL was unable to overcome, falling 3-2. In 2021, Julio was the hero, scoring a pair of first-half goals in his RSL debut – both on assists from Rubio Rubin, also in his first-ever Claret-and-Cobalt match – en route to a 2-1 road win to open a dramatic campaign that saw RSL endure a midseason coaching change, the Decision Day “Damiracle” in Kansas City, various Covid-19 absences to key players, a 120-minute shootout win at Seattle without a shot on goal, a playoff win in KC, ultimately falling in the Western Conference Final at Portland.
TURNING THE CORNER
While RSL has suffered just two losses in its last 11 matches across all competitions – posting a 6W-2L-3T mark – and has posted defensive clean sheets in three of its last five MLS contests (and four of its last seven overall), last Saturday’s first-half outburst of three goals snapped a 382-minute goal drought in MLS, which was the Club’s 3rd-longest in 19 years. That drought was just 5 minutes shy of a 2015 streak and 188 minutes shy of the record set during RSL’s 2005 expansion year. The trio of first-half goals last Saturday at Colorado marked the first time since Oct. 2018 that RSL scored three in the first 45 minutes, and marked just the fifth time in the last 89 games all competitions that RSL scored twice in the first 23 minutes.
Wednesday’s clean sheet by 18-year-old GK Gavin Beavers at Colorado was RSL’s first Open Cup clean sheet since 2015, while the zero pitched by GK Zac MacMath and the RSL rearguard on May 6 at Houston was the Club’s first road shutout since last April in Portland. Much-needed staunchness for RSL, which has allowed the fourth-most goals in MLS this season, mostly due to a pair of 0-4 losses to St. Louis and at Columbus, along with the 0-3 home loss to LAFC on May 13.
The early LAFC goal on May 13 terminated RSL’s active MLS shutout streak at 230 minutes, following scoreless draws at home against Seattle and at Houston in the prior two weeks. Those defensive zeroes marked RSL’s first two of only three clean sheets in the first 13 matches of 2023, as with the back-to-back clean sheets RSL’s first since last June 18/25. Another 90 minutes without conceding came in last Wednesday’s lightning-delayed 0-0 draw with Portland for clean sheet No. 3 on the MLS campaign.
MASTROENI MENTALITY = ROAD WARRIOR SUCCESS
Since Pablo Mastroeni arrived at RSL for the 2021 season, first as an assistant coach and later as interim and then permanent head coach, the historically bad road performances that dogged the Club during its first 16 years have seemed to dissipate. While there have been the periodic flameouts – an 0-5 at Portland in 2021, the 0-6 Easter massacre at Yankee Stadium last year, and the 0-4 at Columbus earlier in 2023 – RSL has simply never been more competitive or expected road points more frequently than it has in the last 27 months under Pablo’s culture-building and leadership, evident with this year’s Open Cup road run, featuring its first three away USOC wins in Club history, as well as its first two against MLS opponents.
Since Pablo’s arrival, RSL is 10W-21L-9T (39 points) in MLS reg. season matches away, along with a 1W-1L-2T (5 points) in MLS Cup Playoff matches on the road. And now in 2023, RSL is 3W-0L-0L in U.S. Open Cup (9 points), giving RSL a total of 53 road points earned in the 2021-2023 trio of campaigns. You’d have to go back to the 2012-14 seasons (62 total road points) to find a period with a similar number of road results, even with RSL having 11 more MLS away matches this season.