Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SANDY — Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis recently spoke of his team putting together a meaningful string of victories at Rio Tinto Stadium.
A victory Wednesday night in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match against USL PRO Charleston Battery would give the Claret and Cobalt its fourth consecutive win and punch its ticket into the quarterfinals of the tournament.
It'll be interesting to see if Kreis elects to start the midfielder duo of Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales or send them in off the bench, given the fact that the pair has logged almost 400 minutes over the last week; 300 of those minutes came in a one-week span.
"I have a feeling they're all going to want to play because I think they're as hungry for this tournament as I am," said Kreis. "We're all very much aligned in it this year with a little bit of a different approach to it this year."
Morales, who dished out a pair of assists in Saturday's victory, didn't mince words about the importance of the Open Cup game as well as his teammates' fitness.
"We have to keep going," said Morales. "It's do or die. It's that kind of game, so we have to take care of our bodies right now and prepare for Wednesday night."
RSL has reached the quarterfinals on two occasions— 2006 and 2011— only to be bounced by Colorado and FC Dallas.
To this day, RSL is 6-8-0 all-time in the Open Cup tournament.
Luckily for RSL, a 10-day break awaits the Claret and Cobalt after Wednesday's bout. That's a positive in Kreis' mind.
"The break after the game on Wednesday alleviates my thinking about the fatigue levels," said Kreis.
Defender Tony Beltran will likely be in the starting lineup at kickoff and will help anchor the RSL defense that has been doing a tremendous job in the past handful of matches.
"I love getting back and making a play," said Beltran. "Defending, first and foremost, is my job. If I'm going to get forward, I need to get back."
The biggest change in the RSL starting lineup will be at the goal.
Nick Rimando has joined the USMNT for the next week or so, paving the way for Josh Saunders to work the grind as the RSL goalkeeper. Saunders, a surprise transplant from Los Angeles this summer, will likely be the most overanalyzed player of the match.
Tickets are still available for Wednesday's game, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Follow Conner Johnson on Twitter: TheConner88
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