First the Canadian curse, now the Texas hex.
Real Salt Lake has dismantled storylines about where the team can and cannot win and turned them into the only one that matters.
“Right now we’re in first place and they’re in second,” RSL coach Jason Kreis said Saturday after putting an end to a 22-game winless streak in the Lone Star state, “and that’s what’s important.”
Midway through July, Real is four points clear of Sporting Kansas City and Portland (though the Timbers have a game in hand) in the fight for the Supporters’ Shield.
“The confidence is pretty high,” said midfielder Javier Morales, who showed plenty of bravado when he put a shot through the legs of Dallas defender Zach Lloyd for the first of three RSL goals Saturday.
Salt Lake will have a chance to extend that lead — and its 11-game unbeaten streak across all competitions — on Saturday at home against Kansas City, which moved into first place in the East this week thanks to a 3-0 victory over Toronto.
Sporting should provide a true test for a streaking RSL.
Forward Claudio Bieler scored his ninth goal of the season in the win over Toronto. Kei Kamara has scored four times in 10 games since completing a loan to the English Premier League. And Utahns got a glimpse of the skill Kansas City’s Graham Zusi has to offer when the midfielder started for the United States last month in a World Cup qualifier at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Salt Lake will again be without Alvaro Saborio, Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando and Tony Beltran, as Gold Cup play continues through the rest of July.
Backup goalkeeper Josh Saunders injured his knee in the first half against Dallas and will undergo an MRI Monday. With Rimando also gone, that could mean it falls on third-string goalie Jeff Attinella, who played well replacing Saunders on Saturday, to try to stop the Sporting attack.
“He looked really comfortable back there,” midfielder Ned Grabavoy, who also scored in the win, said of Attinella. “That’s good going forward because we might need him the next three or four weeks.”
Sporting Kansas City at RSL
P Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV • CW30