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

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Coach sees 'huge mental challenge' for RSL heading to FC Dallas

Coach Jason Kreis said RSL will face a "super-good challenge" in trying to pull out a result tonight at FC Dallas, where it has never won and only once — last season — taken a point.

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"I think more than anything, probably a big mental test for us," he said. "Losing two in a row, and being I think as disappointed as probably we are, and then going there and knowing how difficult it has been for us in the past. This is a huge, huge mental challenge."

We all know RSL has been brutal in Texas, going winless in 18 trips to the state and compiling an 0-8-1 record on the road against FC Dallas, counting a playoff loss two years ago.

But the team is also trying to avoid a three-game losing streak that would take a lot of the shine off its 5-1-0 start, especially knowing that would represent an even worse early fade than last season, after midfielder Javier Morales was lost to a devastating ankle injury.

In that case, RSL followed its 5-1-0 start with a two scoreless draws and a home loss, part of a larger eight-game stretch in which it won only once, helping keep it from ever seriously contending for the MLS Supporters Shield regular-season title.

And even though the players try to avoid worrying too much about early-season results, they also know that too many points lost now can turn into a big problem later. That's why defender Nat Borchers said "we have to get a positive result" to turn around the trend.

"We just have to be more disciplined," midfielder Will Johnson said.

Weather reports say it will be in the low 80's at kickoff tonight, with some strong winds but only about 50 percent humidity.

That's not bad for a trip to FC Dallas.

And though RSL will be playing without suspended forward Fabian Espindola and defender Jamison Olave, the Hoops will be without leading scorer Blas Perez, suspended about 28 hours before the game for throwing an elbow at Vancouver's Jordan Harvey last weekend.

"I hope that we maintain an even keel," Kreis said. "I also hope that we still feel a little bit of disappointment, a little bit of anger in ourselves, particularly [from] this last game, where arguably things did not go our way. … So I hope that there's a little bit of anger still left in the guys, and that they're out to prove something."



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