SALT LAKE CITY — Real Salt Lake has suffered through some very bad road losses this season, a big reason it still has a negative overall goal differential despite sitting in the top four in the Western Conference.
For comparison purposes, RSL sits in a fourth-place tie in the West with a minus-7 goal differential while Kansas City — which has just four more points in the standings — has a plus-11 goal differential.
Despite collecting just four points on the road, tied with Colorado for second-fewest in MLS, not all of RSL’s road games have been train wrecks.
In fact, specifically in the road losses to Vancouver, Orlando and Columbus, coach Mike Petke’s team played really well during long stretches of those matches. Against Vancouver and Orlando the visitors were on the front foot early, but couldn’t finish off chances and the defense eventually buckled.
Against Columbus a couple weeks ago, RSL started slow but used high pressure to create a lot of troubles for the Crew in the second half and nearly fought back for a draw.
In each of those games, Vancouver’s Carl Robinson, Orlando’s Jason Kreis and Columbus’ Greg Berhalter all complimented Petke after the match on his strong team.
“I’m getting sick and tired of the compliments,” joked Petke.
“In order to get a result on the road many things have to happen in this league, and one of them is total concentration for 90 minutes, no slip-ups.”
That has only happened once this season during a 1-0 win at Seattle on May 26.
Real Salt Lake gets another opportunity to grind out a road result this Saturday when it travels to face Minnesota United (6 p.m., KMYU).
Minnesota has lost three games at home this season, but Petke said he doesn’t think that makes the game any more winnable than his team’s prior seven road losses this season.
“I think every game is a winnable match and we’ve only won one. I think Minnesota is a very dangerous team,” said Petke.
Minnesota has lost four of its last five games and sits in ninth place in the Western Conference standings, 10 points behind Real Salt Lake. It split a pair of games last weekend, winning at home against Toronto FC 4-3 and then losing at Houston.Comment on this story
RSL, meanwhile, beat Sporting Kansas City and FC Dallas at home last week to keep pace atop the conference.
“Going into this game, (we need to be) able to do what we did against Kansas City, being able to create chances, being able to finish things off,” said RSL midfielder Sebastian Saucedo.
The backline also needs to be mindful of Minnesota midfielder Darwin Quintero, who scored three highlight-reel goals in the win over Toronto last week.
Defensively Minnesota ranks near the bottom of MLS with 36 goals conceded, and Petke said he believes there are areas RSL can exploit throughout the match.