HERRIMAN — Real Salt Lake will take on the Chicago Fire Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium in the team's first-ever home whiteout.
After coming off a 0-0 draw in San Jose where RSL earned just one point, the team's focus will be finding a way to score three points against Chicago at home. It will help that Chicago has faced a tough schedule by playing seven games in 21 days.
RSL has consistently struggled on the road this season, winning just one road game out of 11. It fell to Chicago 2-0 on the road in 2017.
"They're already gonna be tired, the elevation is gonna hurt them," said defender Justen Glad. "If we can keep the ball, keep them running and get their legs — they're already gonna be heavy, get them heavier. There's going to be a couple times where they don't slide or transition 'cause they don't have the energy and hopefully, we can capitalize."
Head coach Mike Petke will return to the sidelines for Saturday's match after a two-game suspension due to an on-camera rant about MLS officiating at Minnesota United.
With the MLS playoffs coming up, Petke and the rest of the team are feeling the pressure to stay in playoff position. Currently, RSL sits in the last playoff spot in the West with the 9-9-4 record, and the standings are tightening up to the point that every game counts. Petke does not want a repeat of missing the playoffs by one point like last year.
"You know we're at that time in the year where things are getting tighter, teams are playing a little differently and some tired legs some injuries and maybe sitting back a little bit more when they come in here," Petke said. "We're trying to find ways to draw them out and create space for ourselves."
Albert Rusnak, one of RSL's top scorers who suffered a game-ending neck spasm at San Jose, will return to help RSL on the field against Chicago.
"... They also had it tough this year, especially playing on the road," Rusnak said of Chicago. "It won't be an easy game but it'll definitely be one that we look to get three points."
Homegrown players Bofo Saucedo and Aaron Herrera missed practice this week to participate in the MLS Homegrown Game in Georgia. According to Petke, he is still in the process of deciding what role they will play Saturday following the travel.
"It's a good opportunity and recognition for them but it's two less days they're with us," Petke said.
RSL will kick off against Chicago at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at www.rsl.com/tickets.