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Difficult conditions await Real Salt Lake in visit to FC Dallas

Real Salt Lake forward Juan Manuel Martinez (7) kicks a goal to tie the match at 2 during a U.S. Open Cup game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Tuesday, June 14, 2016.
Real Salt Lake forward Juan Manuel Martinez (7) kicks a goal to tie the match at 2 during a U.S. Open Cup game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Tuesday, June 14, 2016.
Spenser Heaps,

SANDY — The shoe will be on the other foot for Real Salt Lake this Saturday.

On Wednesday, Real Salt Lake coach Jeff Cassar put a virtual first-choice lineup on the field against New York, which instead elected to start a younger squad on short rest and hoped for the best.

The youthful Red Bulls nearly stole points at Rio Tinto Stadium before giving up two late goals, and this is how coach Jesse Marsch summed up the evening, “Heat, elevation, short turnaround, travel … it’s not easy man, it’s not easy. In the end I’m real happy with the effort that the group put in.”

That’s nearly an identical situation to what Cassar finds himself facing with Real Salt Lake traveling to FC Dallas this Saturday (6 p.m., KMYU). Heat, humidity, short turnaround and travel — not to mention an important U.S. Open Cup match next Tuesday against Seattle at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Like Marsch on Wednesday, Cassar will likely trot out a lineup with quite a few second-choice players at FC Dallas and hope for the best.

Regardless of who’s on the field, Real Salt Lake would love to take something positive from the trip. FC Dallas owns the second-best record in MLS with 28 points, while RSL sits right behind with 27 points — and two games in hand on Dallas.

It’s imperative Cassar’s team cleans up the cheap turnovers to have a chance. RSL gave the ball away far too easily in the second half against New York on Wednesday, and in his postgame comments Cassar said, “against a different team we’ll pay for it.”

Reading between the lines, he basically meant Dallas, traditionally the best transition team in MLS.

In the Texas heat and humidity, RSL can’t afford to needlessly be chasing back defensively, otherwise the players will have nothing left in the tank for the final 25 minutes — kind of like New York on Wednesday.

Jordan Allen said the players are well aware of their possession issues, something they’ll continue to work on.

“It’s just a focus thing, Every day in training, every passing drill has to be sharp. We know that, it feels like we talk about it too often after games ’cause we’re giving up too many poor possessions,” said Jordan Allen after Saturday’s match. “It’s just something that we have to keep working at and make a mentality type thing that we don’t give up that possession.”

Allen figures to be in the starting lineup at FC Dallas after coming off the bench on Wednesday, one of potentially seven or eight new faces in the starting lineup.

Getting a result regardless of the lineup is always daunting at Dallas, where Real Salt Lake is 1-13-2 all-time over all competitions since joining the league in 2005.

James Edward is the Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer. EMAIL: jedward@deseretnews.com