Brian Nicholson, OKespa–ol
SANDY — The winless streak is well-documented — 0 for Texas.
In eight seasons since joining MLS, Real Salt Lake owns an abysmal record of 0-18-3 in all competitions at Houston and FC Dallas.
Coach Jason Kreis, who spent the bulk of his playing career in Dallas, is sick of hearing about it, too. Just as he didn’t want to talk about RSL’s winless ways at the nation’s capital after his team’s loss to D.C. United a couple weeks ago, he wasn’t really in the mood to talk about the Texas hex either ahead of this Saturday’s match at Dallas.
“I just don’t think it’s important. It’s funny how much everybody emphasizes it, even within our own club. I don’t care. We’ve won a lot of places, we’ve won a lot of games, let’s talk about that,” said Kreis.
Unfortunately for Kreis, the deck is so stacked against his team this weekend, odds are good he’ll be answering the same annoying questions when RSL makes another visit to Dallas in July
National team call-ups have depleted the RSL roster by five this weekend, while an additional six players are dealing with injuries that could keep them on the sideline.
The team takes the field at FC Dallas Stadium at 6:30 p.m. will be anything but a first-choice group.
Regulars Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Alvaro Saborio and Abdoulie Mansally are with their respective national teams, while Javier Morales, Chris Wingert, Carlos Salcedo and David Viana are out for sure and Rich Balchan and Khari Stephenson are questionable.
The club will likely get a boost with the return of Nat Borchers to the starting line-up, and the center back is actually excited for the challenge in Dallas.
“I love these tests. We’ve got to test our depth, we got to test the guys we picked up in the offseason, test them in terms of how they fit in your system and how they execute, and test those veteran guys,” said Borchers. “The onus is on us to communicate to those guys and make sure we help them out anyway we can. We’ve got a big chance to get a result down in Dallas.”
Borchers is one of five RSL players who might crack the starting line-up for the first time this season.
Second-year midfielder Sebastian Velasquez has started every game this season, and he isn’t concerned with the bleak history in Dallas — even though RSL has earned draws in its last two regular season games.
“A lot of us young guys need to step up and show that we’re a part of this team also, and hopefully we can get some points out of Dallas,” said Velasquez.
Two factors could help make the task less daunting for Real Salt Lake.
The weather forecast for Frisco, Texas is calling for rain and temperatures in the 40s or 50s around kickoff. That’s a far cry from the energy-sapping heat and humidity that usually greats Real Salt Lake in Texas.
“I don’t think we’re going to have any issues adapting to that,” said Kreis.
Kreis is also optimistic the atmosphere in the stands could help as well. Through the years RSL has grown accustomed to playing in a half-empty stadium at FC Dallas, including only 10,069 last season. In two home games this season though, Dallas has averaged just under 17,000 fans, which Kreis believes helps his players too.
“They’ve got a nice little atmosphere right now in these last two games, and we’ll hope that crowd continues for us and provides an atmosphere that guys want to play in front of,” said Kreis.
Dallas is 2-0-0 at home this year, while Real Salt Lake is 1-1-0 on the road.
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