There is urgency in Real Salt Lake’s locker room, but the club is far from panic after two straight 1-0 road defeats against the Colorado Rapids and Houston Dynamo. With three more road matches before RSL returns home to a newly resurfaced Rio Tinto Stadium, there is still plenty of time to accumulate points during perhaps the most rigorous part of the schedule this year for the Claret-and-Cobalt.
RSL General Manager Craig Waibel gave reason for his optimism that things could turn around in the next few weeks as Salt Lake takes to the road to face rival Sporting Kansas City this week to continue its stretch of five straight road matches.
“Right now our group isn’t really that panicked. They know they’re producing chances. They know they’ve missed some fantastic chances,” Waibel said on O’Connell and Swinney on ESPN 700 in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. “I think the group is confident in the fact that they know they can get a result when they need it.”
RSL has just three losses this season, but they have come in the last three matches away from home. They were all very much different though. Starting with a 5-2 trouncing at the hands of the LA Galaxy, RSL recovered for a 2-1 home win over the Houston Dynamo. That was followed by a 1-0 road loss to the Rapids that saw RSL fall victim to a tremendous goalkeeping effort from Colorado’s Zac MacMath that made the difference in the match. Then last weekend saw a 1-0 loss in a weather-delayed match in Houston, as a lackluster RSL was still able to stay competitive and was nearly able to leave Texas with a point from the match.
“Zero-one results on the road can look different. I thought the game in Colorado we certainly had every opportunity to take three points from. Zero-one in Houston I felt was a bit more justified – a draw would have been fantastic for us,” Waibel said, noting that as matches are different, so can be the recovery from those matches. “Getting them back on the field after the game in Houston is a bit more psychological than the Colorado one. Every one is a little bit different. Right now, I think our guys are mature enough and our roster is mature enough that they’re not really that affected. We’re not coaching a young group right now. So I think we’re in a decent spot.”
This will be the second match between RSL and SKC at Children’s Mercy Park this season, with Salt Lake dominating in a 2-1 victory on April 2. In that match, RSL played without Kyle Beckerman, Juan Manuel Martinez and Jamison Olave due to suspension and Nick Rimando and Javier Morales because of injury. With other role players also out with injuries, RSL brought up two players from Real Monarchs to fill out the bench. With the likelihood that Head Coach Jeff Cassar could have a full roster available this week, it shapes up to be a much different match, though Waibel anticipates the same fire typical of the rivalry.
“It’ll play different for both squads. I think we’ll see a different game, but the one thing we’ll always see between these two teams is fireworks,” Waibel said. “There is no love lost between Kansas City and RSL. It’s the emotion of the game and having gone there already once and taken points, they’ll certainly ramp that up a bit more on us.”
For the full interview with Waibel, click here.