Sandy • So you thought that dramatic, back-and-forth, stoppage-time victory over Toronto FC last weekend was wild?
New Englandat Real Salt LakeAt Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy
Kickoff » Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV » CW30
Radio » 700 AM, 1600 AM, 102.3 FM
Records » RSL 6-3-1, New England 3-5-0
Regular-season series » RSL leads, 6-4-4
Last meeting » RSL 3, New England 3 (July 4, 2011)
About RSL » It’s riding a four-game unbeaten streak against the Revolution, and hasn’t lost to them at home in four games since 2007.
About the Revolution » Forward Saer Sene leads the team with three goals, having arrived on a free transfer from Bayern II, the third-division reserve team of Bayern Munich in Germany.
The New England Revolution visit Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night, and they always seem to bring out the best in the home team. RSL has not lost to the Revs at home in five years, and has left them shell-shocked each of the last three years.
"We’ve had some success," midfielder Will Johnson acknowledged, "but I don’t think that has any factor" on Saturday.
Unless the Revs are still suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.
Three years ago, RSL blasted them 6-0 at home.
Two years ago, it was 5-0.
And last year, RSL overcame a controversial red card in the third minute against defender Nat Borchers to fight back from a two-goal deficit, tie the game, fall behind again before a New England red card, and then strike for a stunning equalizer in the 83rd minute.
"I don’t know what to say," former Revs coach Steve Nicol said after that game. "I’m absolutely flabbergasted at what just happened."
Coach Jason Kreis said he doesn’t see any common denominators in the unbeaten streak against the Revs, and insists that every game is a separate event, unrelated to the others.
The meeting this season takes on a whole new dynamic, too, with the Revs still getting accustomed to 35-year-old coach Jay Heaps — like Kreis, a Duke graduate and former star player — and lurching along in fits and starts. They had lost three in a row before beating Colorado at home Wednesday.
"When there’s a new coach, and new players, and new structure, and new system and philosophies, there’s going to be some confusion," Kreis said. "There’s going to be ups and downs, and inconsistencies. And I think that’s exactly where they are. But what we need to be prepared for is them at their best, because when they’re at their best, they’re a very, very good team."
But RSL has insisted all along that it’s focused only on itself, and to that end, it needs to work on the defense.
Just two years ago, it set a league record by allowing just 20 goals in 30 games. But already it has given up 11 in 10 games this season - though it has endured some questionable calls well enough to compile a 6-3-1 record.
"We’ve given up a lot more goals than we’re used to," Borchers said. "We’ve given away some goals on set pieces. I think we’ve been a little lax on some throw-ins. That makes or breaks teams, really. We’ve got to sharpen up on set pieces and dead-ball situations."
The game begins a third three-games-in-eight-days stretch for RSL, which then will play only one league game in the next four weeks.
"We just have to treat it as a game against a good team and be organized and be sharp and be ready to go - and be better defensively than we have been," Johnson said.
Copyright 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.