RSL has sights set on first U.S. Open Cup semifinal berth
Soccer • Salt Lake must beat Carolina for first trip to semis.
Published: June 26, 2013 08:42AM
Updated: December 7, 2013 11:34PM
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Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Real Salt Lake's Ned Grabavoy leaps for the ball as Real Salt Lake hosts Charleston Battery in the US Open Cup Wednesday June 12, 2013 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

Sandy • They’re inching closer toward a chance to play for another cup.

Should Real Salt Lake move past the visiting Carolina RailHawks in Wednesday night’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match at Rio Tinto Stadium, the franchise would find itself in foreign territory.

RSL has never advanced to the Open Cup semifinals. They made it to the quarterfinals in 2006 and again in 2011, but have never moved into the final four, with a shot to put another gem in their crown.

“I just think that our intent this year is to win it,” RSL coach Jason Kreis said. “There’s no kind of half goals about being the furthest that we’ve ever been.”

Simple as that.

Real Salt Lake takes on a Carolina side that advanced to the Open Cup quarterfinals by beating Chivas USA 3-1 in the fourth round on June 12. The RailHawks, the 2011 NASL regular-season champions, dispatched the L.A. Galaxy 2-0 in the third round on May 29.

After having to outlast the Atlanta Silverbacks and Charleston Battery in back-to-back extra-time matches, RSL is focused on a clean start against a motivated and talented lower-tier organization.

Midfielder Khari Stephenson won an Open Cup title with Kansas City in 2004. The Jamaican international who has scored two goals in the last two Open Cup matches for RSL said it’s a mixed bag of expectations in this tournament.

“You never know what kind of team they’ll show up with,” he said. “It could be a bad team with a great day or it could be a good team with a bad day.”

Ned Grabavoy won an Open Cup championship a year after Stephenson in 2005, raising the crown with the Galaxy. The opportunity to move onto the semifinals would mean another match at Rio Tinto Stadium. The winner of Wednesday’s match will host the winner of FC Dallas and the Portland Timbers on Aug. 7.

“This club has made it pretty clear that this is something that we’re taking very serious,” Grabavoy said. “We’ve shown that over the first few games.”

Grabavoy said RSL can’t allow the opposition to dictate the pace of the match, adding it must disrupt the shape of Carolina from the very first whistle.

“Without question, we want to bring the energy anytime we’re at home, and really make the other team feel uncomfortable from the very beginning and never let them into the game,” he said.

Kreis said the RailHawks have an effective attack with two forwards and two offensive-minded wingers who will press the RSL backline.

“It’s a home game for us and the most important thing is how we handle ourselves, what type of attitude and spirit we come out with, because we’ve seen over the last two matches in the Open Cup, we haven’t quite got that solved, so I’m hoping that the third time’s a charm,” he said.

ckamrani@sltrib.com

Twitter: @chriskamrani

Open Cup quarterfinals:

RailHawks at RSL

O At Rio Tinto Stadium

Kickoff • 7:30 p.m. (Wednesday)

TV • None

Radio • 700 AM

About the RailHawks • Carolina coach Colin Clarke is in his second season with the club after a successful coaching career in Major League Soccer. ... Austin da Luz, Greg Shields and Julius James are former MLS players. ... Real Salt Lake midfielder Enzo Martinez was sent on a short-term loan to the RailHawks earlier in the year, playing in three games while coming off of the bench and totaling 74 minutes played. ... Carolina is making its deepest U.S. Open Cup run since its inaugural season in 2007, when the club reached the semifinals.

About RSL • RSL beat the 2012 USL Pro champs, the Charleston Battery, 5-2 in extra time in the Open Cup fourth round at Rio Tinto Stadium on June 12. ... Rookie forward Devon Sandoval scored two goals and also drew a penalty attempt in the win. ... RSL rookie center back Carlos Salcedo will be Nat Borchers’ new partner in the back while Kwame Watson-Siriboe (knee injury) and Chris Schuler (left foot) are out.

Open Cup quarterfinals

O At Rio Tinto Stadium (Sandy)

Carolina RailHawks vs. RSL

Kickoff • Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.

Radio • 700 AM