Sandy • As witnessed in Saturday’s loss at Vancouver, soccer remains a painfully beautiful game. For instance, Real Salt Lake played well, yet was undermined by a series of unfortunate occurrences in the Whitecaps’ 2-1 victory.
“Yeah, that sucks,” said RSL forward Fabian Espindola, nicely summing up the situation. “Just a lot of small mistakes that cost [us] too much sometimes. If you find the goal first … we’re good. We’re not finding that right now.”
RSL (13-9-3) nearly found the goal first, but Alvaro Saborio smacked a ball off the post midway through the first half. Nat Borchers’ header in the waning moments snapped the team’s scoring drought of 450 minutes in all competitions (360 in Major League Soccer), but it was not enough as Real dropped its fifth consecutive road match, including Champions League competition.
Hope arrives with a pair of home matches, including Saturday against FC Dallas (5-11-9). Three days later, RSL meets Panamanian champion Tauro FC at Rio Tinto Stadium in the club’s second CONCACAF game. Salt Lake lost its first CCL contest at Costa Rican champion Herediano 1-0 on July 31.
“I’m pretty sure we have more away games than home games left,” RSL defender Ned Grabavoy said. “We dropped a few home games uncharacteristically the last month or so … three points is a must.”
Grabavoy is correct. After Dallas, RSL plays five of its eight remaining MLS matches away from Rio Tinto.
While RSL coach Jason Kreis notes that soccer can be “very cruel,” he also believes his team — second behind San Jose in the Western Conference — can right itself in time for the postseason.
“There’s still a little yet to be determined,” he said. “We have nine games left in our season. We have a CONCACAF match right around the corner, which we place a lot of weight in. We can dwell on what’s happened over the last month and a half as much as we like, but everything’s still there to play for.”
Kreis expects midfielder Kyle Beckerman, goalkeeper Nick Rimando, midfielder Will Johnson and Saborio, all with their respective national teams for Wednesday competition, to return Thursday. Their availability for Saturday will be determined by how much they play Wednesday.
Kreis said midfielder Javier Morales’ groin strain, suffered at Vancouver, was more serious than he first thought. Morales was not at practice Tuesday. Defender Jamison Olave continues to battle hamstring problems and is questionable for Saturday.