LEHI — Chris Wingert shrugged off the notion that Real Salt Lake is dealing with adversity, saying most teams would be psyched to have a similar start to the 2011 season.
That may be true based on RSL's 5-1-1 record alone, but the situation has changed the past few weeks.
Jason Kreis is the first to admit that Javier Morales' long-term injury has created some rare adversity for his team — adversity not seen since a four-game winless stretch in April of 2010.
"I don't think there's any reason to shy away. This is a difficult, difficult time in our club and in this specific team's history," said Kreis. "There are just a lot of things going on off the field that are presenting us challenges."
RSL has scored just twice in its past four league games, which happened once in 2010 during a four-game stretch from Aug. 28 to Sept. 18. Kreis, however, was juggling lineups at the time because of the CONCACAF Champions League, and RSL's 2-0-2 record during that stretch was seen as nothing but a positive.
Right now, however, there's nothing positive about the team's current funk. RSL is coming off a 0-0 draw at home in which it registered just one shot on goal.
Some teams — a team like Kansas City, which has given up 17 goals in seven games this year — might not call what RSL is going through adversity, but it certainly feels that way internally.
"I think it is because we're not used to it. It's been over a year since we've had any type of adversity with struggling to win games and score goals," said RSL captain Kyle Beckerman. "We set the bar high here, we expect top level every time we go out, and when you don't see that a couple games, things aren't normal."
Beckerman said the team is doing everything it can to shake the funk, and he hopes a turnaround comes this Sunday in Dallas. It won't be easy, though. After all, RSL is 0-9-0 all-time in Big D.
"This is one of those games and one of those stats that we wanted to change this year. We didn't want them to keep that stat over us down there," said Beckerman.
Despite the adversity RSL isn't panicking — nor should it.
It owns the third-best record in MLS with 16 points, trailing only Dallas (17 points) and Los Angeles (20). Incredibly, Salt Lake has played five fewer games than L.A. and three fewer than Dallas, games in hand that give the team some breathing room as it adjusts to playing without Morales.
"It will definitely come in handy, but you've got to win those games. Nobody gives you three points," said Beckerman.
Real Salt Lake is confident its league-best defense can help it survive whatever random adversity comes its way.
"There's no doubt about it, we built this team the right way. The guys are still focused on doing all the right things defensively, and when we do that, we're always going to give ourselves a chance to win," said Kreis, whose team has only conceded two goals all season.
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