SANDY — As you'd expect, Real Salt Lake's players and coaches are saying all the right things ahead of Monday night's match against one of the worst teams in MLS.
Considering its own inconsistencies RSL can't afford to take any opponent lightly, but realistically, New England is in way over its head when it takes the field at Rio Tinto Stadium at 6:30 p.m. in an ESPN2 nationally-televised match.
New England is winless in seven straight, hasn't won on the road all season, hasn't won in Utah since 2007, and has an abysmal history at Rio Tinto Stadium. Two years ago RSL scored six second-half goals in a 6-0 thrashing of the Revolution, and last year, it was a 5-0 beat down with four of the five goals coming in the opening 56 minutes.
It can't possibly happen again, can it?
"You never want to go into a game thinking that you're going to beat them like you did last time," said RSL keeper Nick Rimando.
Coming off a convincing win over Toronto on June 25, and then a U.S. Open Cup victory over Wilmington last Tuesday, Real Salt Lake is coming into some good form lately and poised for its annual shellacking of the Revs.
RSL coach Jason Kreis, whose No. 9 RSL jersey will be retired after the match, said it's silly to expect another blowout.
"I always think if you spend too much time thinking about the past and what you have done before or what you haven't done before, it's always going to haunt you, whether you've had good results or bad results. You need to be focused on the next game," said Kreis.
Even though Real Salt Lake hasn't been as dominant at home as in years past, it's still 5-1-2 at Rio Tinto Stadium with a plus-8 goal differential. New England meanwhile is 0-6-2 on the road with a minus-8 goal differential.
Knowing what's happened in the past, RSL captain Kyle Beckerman expects New England to approach the match with a very conservative approach so things don't get out of hand again.
"They're a proud bunch, and nobody wants to get beat up too bad," said Beckerman.
New England's performances at Rio Tinto Stadium the past two years seem to contradict Beckerman's statement about it being a proud bunch. The fight in both matches simply wasn't there after falling behind by multiple goals. It looked like the Revs gave up.
RSL always tries to come out with an aggressive mindset at home, and considering the Revs' bleak history in Utah, you can bet the home team will be trying to bury the visitors early.
"They have good individuals on their team. Right now they're not playing their best soccer. When they play good, they have good moments and we have to make sure we're switched on during those moments 'cause they could bury you," said Rimando.
This is the second meeting between the teams this season. RSL prevailed 2-0 at New England back in April with its "B" team playing most of the match. Coming off a match in Costa Rica a few days earlier Kreis opted to rest his regulars and still got a positive result.
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