Chris Wingert can't help but chuckle in disbelief when he's reminded that Real Salt Lake never won two games in a row last year.
RSL won a combined 11 regular-season and playoff games last year, but it never once followed up one win with another one, settling for seven ties and four losses.
"We better get a couple wins in a row at some point; we're too good of a team to not have any sort of winning streaks," said Wingert. "I'm hoping that it comes tomorrow."
Fresh off its 4-1 thrashing of Columbus a week ago Thursday, RSL takes the field today at 4 p.m. against D.C. United in pursuit of its first modest winning streak since 2007. It's an emphasis that coach Jason Kreis promised to hammer home, declaring he would remind the players more than 100 times in Friday's final team meeting.
With Seattle and Chivas each off to 3-0 starts in the Western Conference, the players don't really need reminding about the importance of keeping pace.
"That's how you put yourself in good positions, you get on a couple streaks. You see Seattle already, they've got nine points in three games, that's how you do it," said Wingert.
RSL can't make up all that ground in one game, but a victory over unbeaten D.C. United (1-0-2) would be a good start. RSL should get a boost from playing at Rio Tinto Stadium. Of the 11 missed chances to win back-to-back games last year, 10 occurred on the road, where RSL was one of the worst teams in MLS with a 2-9-4 record.
"More than building off last week, it's another home game, and if you want to be a top team in this league, you have to win all of your home games," said midfielder Will Johnson.
Taking care of business at home, where they lost just once last year, is how Real Salt Lake sneaked into the playoffs in 2008, despite a terrible road record and never winning two games in a row.
Beating D.C. United at home hasn't been a problem lately. RSL won three straight against D.C. in the past three years at Rice-Eccles Stadium with an 8-2 goal differential, including a 4-0 spanking early last year.
Duplicating that four-goal effort, or last Thursday's four-goal effort, seems unlikely, but Kreis is pleased with the number of chances his team is creating so far this year. RSL led the league in shots and shots-on-goal a year ago, and it outshot Seattle and Columbus in each of its first two games.
"It's hard to put too much stock in two games; two games doesn't necessarily represent a trend," said Kreis. "But I do think if you look at last year and then you add those two games, we are creating more chances than our opponents, and for me, that's always going to be a good thing."
RSL struggled to put those chances away in a season-opening loss at Seattle, but that wasn't an issue last week against Columbus.
Kreis hopes his players can build on that confidence.
"Every game you win, it seems like your confidence rises. And in professional sports, confidence is a huge thing," said Kreis. "The differences between players' abilities and teams' abilities is very small, so you look for every edge you can, and one of those big edges is confidence."
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