SANDY — It’s been two weeks since Real Salt Lake’s humbling Zlatan Ibrahimovich experience, but in a World Cup summer when the eyes of the soccer world are on Russia, that loss to the L.A. Galaxy seems like it was ages ago.
There have been nearly 30 World Cup group games since in the two weeks since Ibrahimovich’s brace snapped RSL’s three-game league winning streak.
That result is long since in the rearview for RSL, which looks to build on its six-game home winning streak when it returns to action this Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium (8 p.m., KMYU) against one of the bottom feeders in MLS.
San Jose is tied for the second-to-worst record in all of MLS with just two wins and 10 points. It hasn’t won a game since May 12, but Justen Glad said that recent form is irrelevant.
“For me every game is the same. The MLS right now is any team can beat any team on a given day,” said Glad.
RSL’s mainstay defender said it wasn’t long ago that RSL was below the playoff line, and not viewed very highly in MLS circles. Internally though Glad said the players always believed they were one of the better teams and now they have the results to back it up.
Glad believes San Jose likely has that same mentality and is capable of flipping its season around at any moment.
Getting that result at Rio Tinto Stadium, where the home side is starting to rediscover the RioT swagger, will be very difficult.
“We’re more confident at home, we’re taking that second and making that extra pass as opposed to maybe just clearing down the field that you might do away. There’s more of a swagger, more movement, more shutout mentality."
Real Salt Lake sits in fifth place in the Western Conference but is only two points out of third place. With three of its next three games against at home, it has a great opportunity to make a huge jump up the standings.
It starts against San Jose, a team that RSL needs to be very mindful of in transition.
“Dangerous team, very dangerous especially in the counter attack,” said coach Mike Petke. “We can’t afford this game to think that we have the better of the play, and if we do push too much forward and leave ourselves exposed to them.”Comment on this story
In the weeks leading up to the two-week World Cup break, RSL played five games over a 15-day period as Petke was able to rotate in quite a few different players during the stretch. With only three more midweek games the rest of the season, and no more U.S. Open Cup games, the competition for playing time within the team figures to ratchet up.
“It’s tough decisions, but you want tough decisions because if you don’t have tough decisions there’s only one choice you have and it’s not good,” said Petke. “That’s what you hope is there’s competition that’s created and guys don’t feel comfortable in their position and it makes guys work harder.”
Real Salt Lake is 2-0-2 against San Jose over its last four matches, with the most recent 4-0 win coming last August.