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Real Salt Lake seeks quick bounce back performance at New England

Coming off loss at Minnesota, RSL is on the road again this weekend facing a team desperately needing points as well

San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Florian Jungwirth (23) tries to disrupt a shot by Real Salt Lake defender Donny Toia (4) during the Real Salt Lake and San Jose Earthquakes game at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. RSL won 1-0.
San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Florian Jungwirth (23) tries to disrupt a shot by Real Salt Lake defender Donny Toia (4) during the Real Salt Lake and San Jose Earthquakes game at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. RSL won 1-0.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

HERRIMAN — Coming off its worst defensive performance in 3 1/2 months, Real Salt Lake doesn’t have the luxury of a return to Rio Tinto Stadium to sort things out. Instead, club is on the other side of the country to face the New England Revolution on Saturday (5:30 p.m., KMYU).

Both teams desperately need points to maintain their playoff position, which Kyle Beckerman said adds to the urgency of the match.

“We’re going to try our hardest, but we know they are too. They’re fighting for their playoff lives so it won’t be easy,” said Beckerman.

Real Salt Lake sits in fourth place in the Western Conference, three points above the playoff line, while New England occupies the seventh spot in the East, also three points above the line.

A win for either side would be a massive step toward qualifying for the playoffs.

To steal any points on the road this weekend, the defensive continuity needs to be better than it was in last weekend’s 3-1 loss at Minnesota.

RSL conceded position high up the field too many times which played right into Minnesota’s quick transition attack.

Smarter possession will be key, and Beckerman fully expects a very focused effort from RSL after conceding three goals at Minnesota.

“Two in a row (on the road), there’s a little bit more focus when you lose going into the next one after giving up three goals, I think there will be a bit more focus on the defensive side and not giving up anything,” said Beckerman.

RSL has historically fared well at New England with a 4-4-2 record, but its previous two trips have been nightmares with the Revolution winning 4-0 in both 2015 and 2017.

A similarly sloppy defensive performance is highly unlikely considering RSL’s strong form over the past three months. Even despite allowing three goals last weekend, RSL ranks second in the West with 38 goals allowed this season and fourth in all of MLS.

Last season, Real Salt Lake allowed a whopping 58 goals.