If ever there were a time for Real Salt Lake to pick up a win on the road, it is tonight's game against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Real returns to the Home Depot Center the location of the franchise's first-ever road victory and one of only two venues in the league where the team has posted two road victories riding high. The team has captured some momentum, winning its last league game a 2-0 victory over Colorado to remain alone in second place in the west (8-8-6, 30 points) and a friendly against Tigres of the Mexican First Division.
"We're going there, I think, on a confidence high," said coach Jason Kreis. "We're just going to continue to do the same things that we have at home. We're going to go there with a mentality that we want all the points that are available in that match. We will just go there and hopefully continue what now is starting to be a little bit of a roll for us."
The Galaxy also have a bit of a depleted roster. Four stars have been called away to National Team duty for World Cup qualifying. Landon Donovan and Eddie Lewis joined the U.S. squad. Ante Jazic has been called into action for Canada, and David Beckham is looking for caps Nos. 104 and 105 if he plays in both of England's matches.
Besides having those four unavailable, goalkeeper Josh Wicks will be making his first-ever MLS start against RSL after regular starter Steve Cronin broke his hand in the Galaxy's last game against New England. But the players know that sometimes a cornered animal can fight hardest.
"The main thing, even without their guys, (is) it won't be easy," said midfielder Kyle Beckerman. "They'll throw everything at us because it's crunch time now. They're in need of a win at home, so it's going to be really tough. But we feel with those guys in the lineup or out of it that we can get a win, so we just need to go out there with our guns blazing and really try and get three points out of it. It's a big opportunity for us."
For Real to earn just its second road win on the year (1-8-1), it needs to solve the Jekyll and Hyde show it has developed when playing away from Rice-Eccles Stadium, something the coaches and players still haven't figured out.
"I don't know that there is really anything different mentally for us," said defender Chris Wingert. "I think we approach our road games the same in that we try to remain positive and have confidence."I'm not sure why the results haven't been there. I know we have had a couple games where we didn't play real well, and a couple others with some mistakes that the other team capitalized on them. But really we have had some bad luck and should have had more results than we have. We just need to go in there and play our game, and I am confident that we can come out of there with full points."