Real Salt Lake has played on both coasts and in two countries so far this year.
But only twice has RSL played in front of its home crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium. The team’s five road matches in the season’s first seven weeks is a stretch coach Jason Kreis called “the most difficult that I can remember” to start a campaign.
But fresh off a 1-1 draw in Canada, RSL’s road test is about to become only a memory.
When Chivas USA comes to Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday, it will be the first of three straight home games for RSL. Seven of the team’s next 10 games will be played in Sandy, where RSL has earned three of its eight points on the season, beating the Seattle Sounders and drawing with Colorado.
“It’ll be nice,” midfielder Ned Grabavoy said last week with an eye on a return to Rio Tinto. “I think there was another stretch in 2010 where we played four games against really good teams in tough places. We didn’t start that well that year either, but in the end we were fine.”
The road has indeed been unkind to Real. RSL had lost three straight without scoring a goal before Saturday’s match in Vancouver.
Midfielder Javier Morales said he thought RSL’s road woes were “a little bit mental.”
“Sometimes when you play away, you say ‘OK, if we tie, we tie. If we lose, we lose,’ ” he said. “So maybe we need to change that mentality.”
For a friend
Forward Olmes Garcia was booked after stripping off his jersey in the second half of Saturday’s match, in celebration of his first MLS goal. But the Colombian striker wanted everyone to see the picture of the woman on his T-shirt.
“When I started playing, my friend who was close to my heart,” he said through a translator, “we had a really good friendship and unfortunately she died on Dec. 1, and that’s why when I scored my first goal here I dedicated it to her.”
Better by Beckerman
Captain Kyle Beckerman came off the field after about 30 minutes against the Whitecaps, but Kreis said he regretted putting the veteran midfielder on the pitch in the first place.
“Kyle had picked up [a rib] injury [in training] and it was real questionable as to whether we were going to play him,” Kreis said. “I believe that the coach made an error and played him when he probably should have taken a moderate approach and not played him, because it cost us a substitution. But credit to Kyle, he wants to play through everything. As he said yesterday: ‘If I feel I don’t have a broken bone, I should play.’ So, big credit to him, and I appreciate his courage, but Coach has got to do better now.”
Chivas USA at RSL
P Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV • CW30