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Real Salt Lake finding it difficult going 'forward'

Published: Saturday, June 25 2011 12:18 a.m. MDT

SANDY — Real Salt Lake is going through some tough times lately, but Will Johnson said it can't last forever.

"Eventually we're going to get guys back, get our strikers back and get guys in roles they're more comfortable with and put the pieces together," said Johnson. "But right now we have to make due with the guys we've got, press forward and keep adding points.

"A lot of things have gone against us, but we just have to put our heads down and battle through it."

Tonight will be no different when Real Salt Lake hosts Toronto FC at 7 p.m. with virtually no healthy strikers.

Paulo Jr. is doubtful as he continues to deal with his month-long hamstring injury. Fabian Espindola picked up a hamstring strain of his own in Chicago on Wednesday and has been ruled out against Toronto.

The reinforcements from the Gold Cup aren't helping matters either. Arturo Alvarez returned with a hamstring strain and is out, while Alvaro Saborio returned with swelling in his knee and a sprained ankle, and he's questionable.

The only healthy striker on the roster is Artur Aghasyan, an apprentice player Real Salt Lake signed last month.

"It's alarming," said RSL coach Jason Kreis.

It could be worse, at least Real Salt Lake isn't dealing with Toronto's situation.

Toronto is winless in eight straight, and coming off a 1-0 loss at home to Seattle last week after conceding a stoppage time winner despite enjoying a man advantage for 40 minutes. A few weeks earlier it lost at home to Philadelphia 6-2.

"It's a new group, it's a new team and you're seeing some of the same struggles that any new team has. They haven't been the most cohesive unit defensively or offensively," said Kreis.

Kreis insists Toronto is a dangerous opponent because it's desperate for points, but Real Salt Lake is approaching the match with the same desperate attitude.

"I think this is a must-win game. I think we have to come out, assert ourselves and get three points," said RSL defender Nat Borchers.

With three straight ties and just one victory in eight matches since the injury to Javier Morales, Real Salt Lake has slipped in the standings and needs to start picking up points soon to stay in the hunt for the Western Conference title.

With five of its next six matches at home, now is the perfect time to make that push.

Even though RSL is coming off a scoreless tie in Chicago on Wednesday, it returns home confident considering the circumstances it endured with a depleted front line.

"Chicago was a step forward for us in terms of our possession game, in terms of what we've been trying to do since the CONCACAF loss, since we lost Javy. Our possession game has suffered a bit, but I think Chicago was a good step forward. It's slowly coming together," said Borchers.

With Aghasyan and Jean Alexandre likely starting at forward, Borchers said capitalizing on set pieces will be very critical.

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