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Chris Kamrani
Chris Kamrani covers Real Salt Lake for the Tribune.

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Captain wonders if RSL can win Supporters Shield title by midseason

Goalkeeper Nick Rimando credited the coaches for managing the players well, defender Nat Borchers believes the Champions League games have kept the team sharp, and defender Chris Wingert said players have done a good job staying fit and focused.

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Whatever gets the credit, RSL is off to the best start in its history at 3-0-0 in Major League Soccer — and that could mean big things down the road.

In fact, midfielder and captain Kyle Beckerman said the team learned a lesson last season from the Los Angeles Galaxy, who roared undefeated through their first 12 games — they went 10-0-2 before a 1-0 loss to RSL — and never gave up the lead en route to the Supporters Shield regular-season championship.

"I think we learned with L.A. getting out to such a great start in the beginning of the season, you can win that Supporters Shield in the first half of the season," Beckerman said. "We weren't able to catch them. We're now like really concentrating even more to get as many wins in the beginning half of the season just like L.A. did, to see if we can get out to a big lead and maybe you can win it in the first half of the season."

RSL plays the rival Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium, where it stands a good chance of taking three more points, considering it's riding a 36-game home unbeaten streak in all competitions.

It also has not lost to the Rapids in four straight meetings dating back nearly two years, and the Rapids are both shorthanded — midfielder Pablo Mastroeni and forwards Conor Casey and Macoumba Kandji are not expected to play — and trying to bounce back from a miserable 3-0 loss at FC Dallas last weekend.

Meanwhile, the RSL players have been intent on avoiding a repeat of last season, when they followed a season-opening road win with a draw and three losses, ultimately leaving them just three points short of catching the Galaxy in the race for the Supporters Shield.

"When it's all said and done with the Champions League, we don't want to be behind the eight-ball," Wingert said. "So to start off with three wins is great, but we need to continue to focus on getting points, and make sure we're putting ourselves in a good position going into May."

Coach Jason Kreis agreed, but wasn't sure if RSL can expect too much, no matter how well it plays.

"It all depends on the other teams," he said. "We can only take care of our business. L.A. certainly took care of their business in the first half of [last] season and to be honest, I think if we had taken care of our business in the first half of the season, then maybe L.A. wouldn't have been able to say they pretty much won the Supporters Shield. So I think you need a mixture of a lot of things."



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