SANDY — Real Salt Lake is in unfamiliar territory today.
When it takes the Rio Tinto Stadium field at 2 p.m. against Chivas USA, every streak that has come to define the club the past two years has been wiped clean.
The home unbeaten streak, the league unbeaten streak, the bid to become the first MLS team to advance to the FIFA Club World Cup, all are finished.
For the first time since last July, Real Salt Lake takes the field on a losing streak.
"Nobody likes losing two games in a week, and we have to be honest, that's what happened," said RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy.
As disheartening as last week's Champions League loss to Monterrey was — not to mention a loss at Portland — the players are ready to turn over a new leaf. There are 29 games left in the MLS regular season, and RSL has big, big ambitions for the remainder of 2011.
As Nat Borchers put it, after coming up short in the Champions League, the new goals are winning the U.S. Open Cup, the MLS Supporters' Shield and the MLS Cup.
That all starts today against upstart Chivas USA, a team that missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2006.
The Goats, coached by former RSL assistant coach Robin Fraser, are on a five-game unbeaten streak heading into today's game and present a unique challenge for RSL.
"It's going to be a really tough game. Robin's a great coach. He was a big part of molding us into what we are now so I know they're going to be a tough team to play against," said RSL captain Kyle Beckerman.
While RSL is coming off a disheartening 1-0 loss at Portland last weekend, Chivas USA is coming off its most impressive result to date, a 3-0 thrashing against visiting New England.
Real Salt Lake hopes to get back to basics to snap its current funk.
"We're going to be aggressive at home and we're gonna try and put our stamp on the game in the first 15 minutes," said Borchers. "It's important that we don't have any mental mistakes. We gave up two goals last week and they were both mental mistakes."1 comment on this story
Surrendering two goals in two games wouldn't normally be a concern for Salt Lake, which led MLS in scoring in 2010. Last week, however, it was shutout in consecutive games for the first time since May 2009 and lost both 1-0.
With four of its next five games at home, Real Salt Lake is in prime position to move back to the top of the MLS quickly.
"With some of the travel we've had early in the season and some of the games, it can be not just physically draining but mentally draining as well. Obviously, playing at home helps," said RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy.