SANDY — Real Salt Lake will be in a familiar situation tonight at Rio Tinto Stadium when it hosts struggling FC Dallas. Winless in eight straight, Dallas is the latest MLS team to arrive in Utah desperate for a result.
A month ago, it was winless Toronto, which incredibly is still winless. RSL needed a miracle 93rd minute goal from Jonny Steele to pull out the 3-2 victory.
A week later, it hosted New England in what should've been another comfortable home match, but instead, Real Salt Lake had to sweat out the 2-1 victory after rallying from an early hole.
"It's tough to play desperate teams like that. They're clawing for every point and guys are fighting for their job," said goalkeeper Kyle Reynish, who is set to make his second start of the season.
Even though FC Dallas may be desperate for points, nobody's throwing the towel in on coach Schellas Hyndman's team despite an 0-5-3 record since April 14.
"I think it's kind of a fluke that Dallas is kind of hitting a rough patch," said RSL defender Chris Wingert.
Coming off a bye last weekend, RSL needs to be sharp from the opening whistle to avoid another slow start like it had in recent home games with Toronto and the Revolution.
"We haven't been too pleased with our performances lately, especially at home. Some of the other games earlier on we weren't putting teams away, but we were happier with our performances. But lately, even though we got a couple wins, we weren't playing great at home, so hopefully we'll improve upon that," said Wingert.
Real will have to do so without veterans Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman. On Friday, the pair were named to the U.S. National Team's 23-man roster for its upcoming five matches over the next 17 days.
The stretch begins with friendlies against Scotland, Brazil and Canada, and will be followed by World Cup qualifying matches against Antigua & Barbuda on June 8 in Tampa, Fla., and then at Guatemala on June 12.
Will Johnson (Canada) and Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica) will also be departing after tonight's match to join their respective national teams for the start of World Cup qualifying. Luis Gil is leaving to join the U.S. Under-20 National Team camp.
Incredibly, after tonight, none of the five will miss another MLS game as they'll rejoin the team before its June 16 game at Chivas USA. Despite the league break, Real Salt Lake hosts a U.S. Open Cup match Tuesday, and will then likely travel for another Open Cup game the following week. The two matches will certainly test the depth of the team.
That depth will be tested tonight as well with Reynish set to make a rare home start and Yordany Alvarez likely starting in place of Beckerman.
FC Dallas, a team that has struggled with injuries much of the year, will also be without all-star midfielder Brek Shea, who is serving the last of his three-game suspension for kicking a ball at an assistant referee.
This is the second meeting between the teams this year, with RSL earning a rare 1-1 draw in Texas last month. With a rematch so soon, Ned Grabavoy says they know what to expect.
"A team that's probably going to come in and play 5-4-1 or 4-3-3, with some wingers that are pretty pacy and good one-on-one players, so we need to careful with the ball in the midfield and confident, and not lose the ball in bad spots," he said.