We have to seize these opportunities when we have them, and it starts tomorrow. – RSL head coach Jeff Cassar
Real Salt Lake, a team that has enjoyed immense success at home in recent years, hasn’t won a home match since June 22, when the Claret and Cobalt defeated the New York Red Bulls in a thrilling come-from-behind victory. In its last four home contests, RSL has come away with just four points.
RSL can buck the trend of home draws when they take on the Chicago Fire on Saturday night (8 p.m., KMYU) at Rio Tinto Stadium. The contest is the first of four contests Real Salt Lake will play in the comfort of their own home in the next five weeks.
“That’s huge. That’s really something to look forward to,” RSL captain Kyle Beckerman said about the upcoming home stretch. “Tomorrow will be an important, big game. I’m sure Chicago will come in and give us everything they’ve got, but, if we can play at our potential, then we can get a win for sure.”
Real Salt Lake return home to Sandy after capturing three out of a possible six points on the team’s East Coast road swing. Last Saturday, RSL beat the Philadelphia Union 2-1 in comeback fashion. After the Union scored in the 44th minute on a penalty kick, RSL responded scoring two goals in six minutes to secure three points in the City of Brotherly Love.
On Wednesday, RSL suffered a 1-0 loss to Toronto FC at BMO Field, where a quick start by Toronto after RSL was whistled offside caught the Salt Lake defense off guard, leading to Toronto substitute Tousaint Ricketts slotting the ball in the back of the net in the 68th minute for the lone goal of the match.
RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando comes into Saturday’s match in search of his 181st win, which would set the MLS record for most career regular-season wins for a keeper. With his 14th win over Chicago, and 70th MLS victory at Rio Tinto Stadium, Rimando would pass goalkeeping legend Kevin Hartman, who is tied with Rimando with 180 MLS regular season wins.
“I feel like he’s [Rimando] breaking a record every game. I mean, the guy is unbelievable, he deserves everything,” RSL defender Chris Wingert said. “I haven’t played with every goalkeeper, but I actually have played with some of the best. Nick, for me, is the greatest ever in the league, so I think he deserves all the records, and he seems to be getting them week after week.”
Lately at home, Real Salt Lake have struggled to score, despite plenty of quality chances. Despite only scoring three goals in the last four home matches, RSL still came away with draws thanks to a good performance from a back line that only gave up three goals in that stretch.
RSL is hoping the offense will be more productive in the upcoming home stretch.
“We have to seize these opportunities when we have them, and it starts tomorrow,” RSL head coach Jeff Cassar said. “We have to take it one game at a time. We’ve proven we can get three points on the road, it’s just sharpening things up in each box just a little bit, and we’ll come out with the result we want.”
RSL forward Yura Movsisyan, who suffered a left hip flexor strain against San Jose on July 23, went through training on Friday. Cassar said that Movsisyan could see playing time on Saturday.
“He might feature in [Saturday’s] game at some point, or make himself available if we need to, or if we’re comfortable, maybe rest him a little bit longer,” Cassar said. “We’ll see how the game goes and how he reacted after today.”
The Fire come into the match with an overall record of 4-10-6, having only accumulated two points on the road. Forward David Acca leads the Fire on offense, having scored five of Chicago’s 19 total goals in 2016.
email@example.com | @JoeAColes