FRISCO, Texas — As frustrating as Saturday's opener was, Real Salt Lake always knew its series with FC Dallas wouldn't be decided until Game 2 at Rio Tinto Stadium — and that hasn't changed.
"Win or lose or draw, it's still only halftime," said RSL captain Kyle Beckerman.
The first round of the MLS playoffs is essentially one big game spread out over two cities and two weekends. FC Dallas' late goal at Pizza Hut Park gives the underdogs a narrow 2-1 lead heading into the second game this Saturday.
"We're all right. That took a lot out of them," said Beckerman. "Credit to them, they got a win. (But) when was the last time we got a win here?"
RSL's all-time record in Dallas is 0-9-0, but that doesn't really matter anymore. What matters is its record at home.
Real Salt Lake owns a 32-game unbeaten streak at home in all competitions dating back to last May. That includes a playoff win over Columbus last year and two regular-season victories over FC Dallas.
RSL will need a similar win to keep its playoff hopes alive, because a tie won't be good enough.
That shouldn't be too hard, right?
"I would hope so," said coach Jason Kreis. "This team over the last two years has been put into an incredibly large number of situations and this is no different."
Real Salt Lake's players don't seem deterred by the challenge.
"Everybody in this locker room is feeling positive that we're going back only down a goal. We're so strong at home and we're really excited for that opportunity," said defender Nat Borchers. "We'll just see how things flush out at home."
RSL needs a two-goal victory to clinch the series and advance to the Western Conference final. A one-goal victory in Game 2 would tie the total-goals series, and 30 minutes of overtime would be necessary.
"At this point, it is what it is. We just have to go home and win. Easier said than done," said defender Chris Wingert.
The odds of RSL getting the job done are mixed.10 comments on this story
In the MLS playoffs the higher seed always plays the first game on the road and the second game at home. Real Salt Lake was the lower seed in its two previous playoff appearances, yet it still managed to win the series after prevailing in Game 1 and then getting the necessary result on the road in Game 2.
If FC Dallas duplicates the trend and advances to the Western Conference final, the league might need to reconsider its playoff format. Real Salt Lake isn't worried about that right now.
"Down one goal, we've got the second leg in Salt Lake and we're looking forward to that," said Will Johnson.
RSL vs. FC Dallas
(Dallas leads 2-1)
Saturday, 8 p.m.
Rio Tinto Stadium
TV: Fox Soccer Channel
Radio: ESPN700 AM