Brian Nicholson, El Observador de Utah
SANDY — It's been nearly two weeks since Real Salt Lake's marvelous performance in the second leg of its CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series with Columbus. It put on an attacking clinic during the 4-1 thrashing of the Crew to easily advance to the semifinals.
Heading into Tuesday's semifinal against Costa Rican club Deportivo Saprissa at Rio Tinto Stadium, coach Jason Kreis believes it's important his players don't get caught up in trying to duplicate the four-goal performance.
"It's important for us to separate the two and not expect that things are going to go as easily or as well as they did for us against Columbus," said Kreis. "You have to put in the work and it's important that the guys are reminded of that and remember that. If we don't put in all the work and pay attention to the details, then we're not going to have all the fun that we got to have against Columbus at the end of the game."
Midfielder Will Johnson isn't worried about RSL's mentality at all. A 34-game home unbeaten streak over all competitions is evidence the team knows how to handle itself in big matches.
"I think it's the same thing we've always done at home. Just get well-prepared, understand the task at hand, understand our opponent and make sure our energy levels are right from the first very minute," said Johnson.
The semifinal second leg against Saprissa is in San Jose, Costa Rica on April 5.
Both teams enjoy a significant home-field advantage, and logically RSL's best hope at advancing to the Champions League final is getting the maximum three points at home.
Kreis isn't getting caught up in all of that yet.
"It's important for us to remember that this is two legs, no matter what. We can't win the whole thing in one game," said Kreis.
As is usually the case, the visitors will likely sit back and play a counter-attacking style that RSL will have to work hard to break down.
BECKERMAN QUESTIONABLE: RSL captain Kyle Beckerman has missed RSL's last two training sessions with a cold.
It's hard to imagine the illness could keep him out of the lineup on Tuesday, but Kreis sounded genuinely concerned about his status and termed him questionable.
If he's unable to go, it seems logical that Ned Grabavoy and Andy Williams will both get the start. Grabavoy started in the Champions Leg first leg against Columbus, while Williams got the nod in the second leg.
BIG CROWD EXPECTED: An announced crowd of 15,405 spurred on Real Salt Lake to its quarterfinal victory over Columbus back on March 1.
Another big crowd is expected this Tuesday.
A team spokesperson confirmed Saturday that ticket sales are ahead of pace compared to sales for the Columbus match. With a forecasted high of 57 degrees on Tuesday, a large walk-up crowd could boost that attendance upward of 17,000 to 18,000.
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