Real Salt Lake aims to shake funk with win vs. Whitecaps
SANDY — All MLS teams go through good spells and bad spells. Kyle Beckerman said the good teams minimize the damages during the rough patches and get back on track quickly.
With one victory in its last five league games, Real Salt Lake is having a difficult time shaking its funk.
It's only going to get tougher in June with six games over the next 22 days, beginning with a visit from the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps tonight at 7 p.m.
"There's no doubt it's a crucial month," said defender Chris Wingert.
After tonight, RSL's remaining five games this month are all against Eastern Conference foes, with three on the road. The extra travel will put RSL's depleted roster to the test, but that's the furthest thing from goalkeeper Nick Rimando's mind right now.
"To be honest, I'm taking it one game at a time. You can't really look beyond Vancouver right now," he said. "It's going to be a long month for sure, but our minds are only on Vancouver."
Coming off last weekend's loss to Seattle, its first league loss at home in two years, Real Salt Lake is anxious to get back on track no matter what. Whether it's an ugly win via a sloppy own goal, or a three- or four-goal outburst, tonight is all about getting a result.
Despite a depleted roster, Rimando said it's important for RSL to finally settle into the rhythm of the season with a good performance against Vancouver. Because of the march to the Champions League final, the disappointment of losing the final and then dealing with Javier Morales' injury, there hasn't been any consistency to the 2010 season yet.
A visit from Vancouver might change all that.
The expansion Whitecaps sit in last place in the Western Conference with a 1-5-7 record, and are winless since a 4-2 triumph over Toronto on the opening weekend of the season. The winless streak prompted management to fire coach Teitur Thordarson earlier this week, replacing him with Tom Soehn.
Under Soehn, a 10-man Vancouver squad gutted out a 1-1 draw in Chivas on Wednesday, and RSL's players believe the coaching change makes the visitors a dangerous team.
"I'm pretty sure they'll be all pumped up to prove a point to this new coach, and as usual everyone that plays us plays their best game of the year," said RSL midfielder Andy Williams.
Coach Jason Kreis stressed earlier this week the importance of Real Salt Lake coming out and putting Vancouver under pressure early, especially with the Whitecaps coming off a midweek game in California. He wants to see RSL run the visitors ragged so they eventually feel the effects of elevation and heavy legs.
RSL has struggled in the first half quite a bit this year, though, and simply flipping the switch won't be easy with six key players missing because of injuries, national team call-ups and suspensions.
"Unfortunately, we are a little bit shorthanded ... but that's just part of a busy schedule and having good players," said Wingert.
With so many holes to plug in the RSL lineup, expect Jean Alexandre to start up top again, while Nelson Gonzalez and Chris Schuler are likely starters for Will Johnson and Jamison Olave.
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