SANDY — A year later, Kyle Beckerman hasn’t forgot about the worst home loss in franchise history.
That 5-1 shellacking by Los Angeles FC came in last year’s home opener, and 364 days later as Real Salt Lake prepares to host Vancouver in the 2019 home opener, that loss is still fresh in Beckerman’s mind.
“I know a lot of guys remember last year, and we definitely don’t want a repeat of that, so I think the focus will be super high this year,” said Beckerman, who is entering his 13th season with RSL. “We did have a solid body of work at home last year, but we can still improve, and one of the games we can improve is the home opener.”
Real Salt Lake won 11 home games last year, tied for the most in the Western Conference.
With minimal turnover from last year, RSL hopes roster continuity again helps it establish a dominant home-field advantage in 2019.
“We feel comfortable at home; a lot of teams come in and sit in a bit as opposed to the previous year. We found ways to break them down and get behind them, all those things have to continue,” said RSL coach Mike Petke.
Confidence should be high for Real Salt Lake on Saturday after earning a 1-1 draw at Houston in the season opener last weekend as it allowed just one shot on goal.
“Guys are in good attitude, good spirits right now after a very good result on the road and how we played, so now it’s to come back our first game of the year and continue with the excellent home form,” said Petke.
RSL split the season series with Vancouver last year, winning at home 2-1 in a memorable April game played in the snow. The forecast for Saturday (4 p.m., KMYU) is chilly and wet again.
A year after that disastrous home opener, RSL’s defense has been vastly overhauled. The starting backline against LAFC last year was Shawn Berry, David Horst, Justen Glad and Demar Phillips.
Only Glad is still with the team a year later, but he’s expected to be out for at least another month as he recovers from a broken toe suffered in the week leading up to the season opener.
Petke will likely trot out the same backline on Saturday that earned the draw in Houston — Brooks Lennon, Nedum Onuoha, Marcelo Silva and Aaron Herrera. It’s a strong defense that keeper Nick Rimando said this week he’s very comfortable playing behind.
Collectively, RSL will face an attack that Petke said is very dangerous.Comment on this story
New coach Marc Dos Santos overhauled the Vancouver roster during the offseason, and even though the sample size of how the revamped Whitecaps will play in 2019 is small, Petke noticed dangerous attacking qualities in last week’s home loss to Minnesota.
“They’re a talented team, they have an excellent coach and I’m sure after last weekend’s loss at home they’re going to look to rebound strongly,” said Petke.
Getting results at home will be important early this season as Real Salt Lake plays a road-heavy schedule to start the season. RSL opens the season playing 3 of 4 and 6 of 9 on the road.