I’m really not concerned about who’s going to put the ball in the back of the net, I’m just concerned about making sure we’re getting the right numbers in the attack in spots that we want to. —RSL coach Jeff Cassar
Just four days removed from its first loss of the 2014 season, short-handed Real Salt Lake is hoping for a quick turnaround Wednesday in Columbus.
With uncertainty surrounding the status of Joao Plata and Robbie Findley up top, RSL’s already trimmed-down squad faces another daunting challenge to find goalscorers.
The club has been shut out in two straight matches, with its last goal coming 219 minutes ago against Colorado at Rio Tinto Stadium. That goal was scored by midfielder Javier Morales, and with the absences up top right now RSL’s midfielders need to pick up the scoring slack.
“I’m really not concerned about who’s going to put the ball in the back of the net, I’m just concerned about making sure we’re getting the right numbers in the attack in spots that we want to,” said RSL coach Jeff Cassar ahead of the Seattle match.
Olmes Garcia is RSL’s lone healthy striker heading into the Wednesday night match (5:30 p.m. MDT, Ch. 30), with Devon Sandoval also dealing with some knee pain. Cassar has hinted that Abdoulie Mansally, Luis Gil or Morales could play up top in a pinch.
With another quick turnaround at home against Portland this Saturday, the glut of absences is forcing Cassar to consider all options.
Despite last week’s 4-0 loss at Seattle — which escalated quickly in the second half — RSL has been very good away from Rio Tinto Stadium dating back to last August. Across all competitions, it has picked up points in 11 of its last 14 away matches.
At Crew Stadium though, Real Salt Lake has rarely found success with six straight regular-season losses dating back to 2007. It has enjoyed some cup success in Ohio, though, with a 2009 playoff victory and a CONCACAF Champions League draw in 2011.
Columbus' players haven't exactly been world beaters after starting the season with three straight victories. Since a 2-1 win at Seattle on March 29, the Crew are 1-5-4 with two home losses.
Last Saturday, they lost 3-2 at Toronto, and Cassar said that levels the playing field a bit for the midweek clash.
“They’re a little bit on tired legs as well,” said Cassar on ESPN 700 this week. “We have to be mentally tough. This isn’t a team that’s rested and going to come guns ablazing, they’re in the same boat as we are. If we’re prepared and disciplined and (have) good shape we should be difficult to break down.
After last weekend’s disappointing result at Seattle, goalkeeper Jeff Attinella said he’s excited about the quick turnaround.
“Quick turnaround, which is great, not a lot of time to think about it. We knew this was going to be a tough stretch. Whether we lost 1-0 or 4-0, it really didn’t matter, we knew we were going to have to get a result in one of these games,” said Attinella.
RSL is 1-1-1 since Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando and Alvaro Saborio departed to join their respective national teams for World Cup preparations.