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Real Salt Lake anxious to dust itself off, move on from worst home loss in franchise history

Coming off 5-0 loss to Colorado, RSL returns to action this Saturday against visiting Vancouver

Colorado Rapids defender Danny Wilson (4) and defender Keegan Rosenberry (2) attempt to stop Real Salt Lake forward Corey Baird (10) during an MLS soccer game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020.
Colorado Rapids defender Danny Wilson (4) and defender Keegan Rosenberry (2) attempt to stop Real Salt Lake forward Corey Baird (10) during an MLS soccer game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020.
Yukai Peng, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Real Salt Lake has long since turned the page on the worst home loss in franchise history.

Coach Freddy Juarez broke down video for about five minutes with his players when they returned to practice on Tuesday about the structural and tactical breakdowns that led to the 5-0 loss to Colorado.

It hasn’t really been discussed since. Juarez said everyone took responsibility for the hand they played in the beatdown, which he chalked up to an uncharacteristic night at Rio Tinto Stadium.

The focus now is all about a visit from Vancouver this Saturday (7:30 p.m., KMYU).

“A lot to learn from, more than anything a lot to learn from ourselves. What’s the reaction going to be like. That’s really what it’s gotta be,” said Juarez. “What’s my reaction like? Is my group prepared for Vancouver? What’s the players reaction like? Are they ready to show that’s not them, and that was uncharacteristic?”

Albert Rusnak said the players were glad it was a short video session and focus has shifted to Vancouver.

“You can only spend so much time looking back. We ain’t going to change anything whether we watch the film 100 times or once, we ain’t going to change that result,” said Rusnak.

RSL’s midfielder said the team trains the same way win or lose all season, but defender Justen Glad has noticed a slightly different vibe this week.

“You can definitely tell, there’s more fight, there’s more anger. It kind of lights a fire in you, as a team, as a collective, you wonder why it happened and you focus on working so it doesn’t happen again,” said Glad.

He echoed the sentiment of his coach that this Saturday’s reaction will tell a lot about the character of this team.

“In professional sports you kind of have to have a short term memory when it comes to stuff like that. You’ve got to obviously learn from it and then you’ve just got to put your best foot forward and continue on,” said Glad.

The correct tactical approach can only go so far, which defender Donny Toia said wasn’t good enough against the Rapids.

“We didn’t show the heart and desire that they did and they came out flying and were ready to go. They came out to prove something and they did,” said Toia.

After losing to RSL at home a few weeks earlier 4-1, Colorado needed to win by four-plus goals to win back the elusive Rocky Mountain Cup — and incredibly that’s exactly what it did.

With the loss, RSL has slipped into an eighth-place tie in the Western Conference standings with Houston, and just two points ahead of 11th-place Vancouver.

This Saturday will be Vancouver’s first match against a non-Canadian MLS team as it spent the past three weeks playing Toronto and Montreal three times each.

Coming off a win against Montreal on Saturday, Vancouver is set to play its third game in seven days while RSL will be on full rest.

Vancouver has played numerous formations over the past several weeks, from the diamond midfield to the five-man backline. On short rest, and with likely lineup rotation from Wednesday’s game, a five-man backline seems likely on Saturday.

Regardless of the approach from Vancouver, Juarez expects a focused mindset from his players beginning from minute one as they look to make amends and climb back into a playoff position.