As Real Salt Lake's lineup has developed some consistency over the past month, not surprisingly the results have started to follow.
During the club's current five-game unbeaten streak, only 13 different players have been in the starting 11. That number shrinks to 12 players in the past four matches, with Fabian Espindola still out after injuring his knee in the first half of RSL's 3-1 win over San Jose on May 31.
Robbie Findley has started up top alongside Kenny Deuchar in every match since Espindola's injury. Defensively, goalkeeper Nick Rimando and defenders Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert have started every game as well.
The only slight change to RSL's lineup has been in the midfield. Andy Williams started three of the past five matches, missing two while he was away with the Jamaican National Team. Matias Cordoba made two starts in his absence alongside midfield regulars Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales and Dema Kovalenko.
"I remember the last couple years we'd have three or four changes every game, but now it's only one or two at most; it's been paying off," said Williams. "You tend to get to know the tendencies of everybody that you're playing with. You can assume more with a consistent lineup."
With a 3-0-2 record in its past five matches, a stretch in which RSL has only surrendered two goals, it's unlikely coach Jason Kreis will tweak his lineup at all from the one he used in last weekend's 2-1 win over league-leading New England.Kreis believes it's a bit speculative to attribute RSL's recent good form to lineup consistency, but he did admit that during his playing days there were benefits to having the same guys on game after game.
SECRET TRIALISTS: Real Salt Lake closed practice to the media and public on Thursday to keep secret the identity of a few trialists in town this week training with the team. RSL still has a roster spot open after the Carey Talley trade, and the FIFA transfer window opens on July 15.
INSTALLATION COMPLETE: Installation of the grass playing surface at RSL's new stadium was completed on schedule Thursday afternoon.
"Grass often is the icing on the cake for a stadium; it comes alive when the green appears," said James Graff, of Graff's Turf Farm in Colorado. "We're really proud how the project has turned out."Approximately 120,000 square feet of sod were laid down in the past three days by the same sod farm that has installed grass at Wrigley Field and Notre Dame's football stadium. The grass will need about 60 days for the roots to take hold.
WITHOUT A HITCH: Real Salt Lake wraps up its weeklong season-ticket relocation process today, and as of Thursday ticket manager Kris Katseanes said more than 3,000 of the roughly 6,000 season tickets for 2008 had been renewed for the 2009 season in the new stadium.
About 70 percent of the club seats, ranging from $1,200 to $7,500, had been sold as well, with the suites having long since been sold out.
Season tickets will go on sale to the general public on Wednesday, July 2.Katseanes said the team spent a lot of time studying the best way to relocate seat assignments from stadium to the next, and the organization decided allowing fans to show up at the new stadium and choose their seats themselves was the best approach. Katseanes was proud to say it's very uncommon in the industry, and he said things couldn't have gone better this week.