HERRIMAN — Real Salt Lake will face a tough road stretch after coming off a 1-1 draw against the Montreal Impact. It will begin a three-game road stretch by facing off against L.A. FC on Wednesday night at Banc of California Stadium.
"It's in our own hands because if we take care of our games nobody can go above us," said midfielder Albert Rusnak.
Real Salt Lake has continuously struggled on the road this season with losing eight of 11 away games — one of the worst away records in the West. The final stretch before playoffs is about to get even tougher because the next six of 10 matches will be on the road. RSL must find a way to steal a few wins on the road to stay above the cutoff line when fall rolls around.
"I think right now it's still those dog days of summer, and once that weather starts to change, the leaves change and it gets a bit cooler, that's when you know playoffs are right around the corner," said team captain Kyle Beckerman in an interview last week.
This match will be crucial to the Western Conference standings, with L.A. FC sitting in fifth place with a 10-7-6 record and 36 points — just one point ahead of RSL's 35 points. There are just seven points between the first- and sixth-place teams in the West — causing the pressure to make a playoff push to increase.
Not to mention in the previous meeting between the two teams in March, L.A. FC stole a 5-1 victory at Rio Tinto Stadium. This was RSL's only home loss this season.Comment on this story
A bright spot in RSL's offense that will help bring an edge against L.A. FC has been Joao Plata. Although the shortest member of RSL's roster, Plata currently ranks as RSL's lead goal scorer with seven goals this season. He had a clutch moment against the Montreal Impact when he was able to capitalize on a penalty kick in the 26th minute to put RSL up 1-0.
Plata was also recently named to the MLS Team of the Week. He is one of RSL's strongest players, despite rumors of leaving before the most recent trade deadline.
Although Plata is good, RSL will have to find a way to gain momentum on the road or it will face a tough stretch.
RSL will kick off against the L.A. FC at 8 p.m.