Sandy • They have traveled thousands of miles and crisscrossed the country, from San Jose to Washington D.C., and from New England to Los Angeles.
As the third month of the MLS season nears its close, Real Salt Lake has almost played half of its 17 regular-season road matches for the year.
And as they return to Utah for a four-game homestand, RSL is hoping the road’s hard lessons will translate to success at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“We’ve got so much confidence on the road right now,” defender Tony Beltran said. Coach Jason Kreis “has us going out there and really just trying to dictate our style of play, not playing to the other team, the crowd, just really trying to stamp our game. … It’s been really encouraging and now we have to take what was positive from those performances and roll that into this next four or five games.”
Despite its road-heavy schedule, RSL sits in second place in the West. Since mid-April, Salt Lake is 4-2-1, with four of those matches away from Utah.
Kreis has said now is the time for his team to make a run. With four straight MLS home games, beginning Saturday when the Chicago Fire come to town, RSL will have its chance.
“I think you appreciate being at home after you’ve been on the road for a while,” defender Nat Borchers said. “Being on the road is kind of a different animal. And being at home is where you feel comfortable. You’ve got your 12th man in the crowd, you’ve got that positive energy. So getting wins is going to be very important here.”
RSL could see even more time at Rio Tinto Stadium over the next few weeks.
Salt Lake will host the Atlanta Silverbacks on Tuesday in U.S. Open Cup play. If RSL wins that match, the team will host the winner of a match between the San Jose Earthquakes and the Charleston Battery.
Calls from the top
RSL keeper Nick Rimando won’t miss any MLS games during his next stint with the U.S. men’s national team. Rimando, who will be one of four MLS goalkeepers involved in the training camp, will spend a week with the national team next month.
The decision was entirely U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s, but Kreis said he appreciated how Klinsmann has handled call-ups.
Chicago Fire at Real Salt Lake
O Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV • CW30