Soccer: 'Jinxed' at home, Real Salt Lake packs bags for Columbus
Sandy • When the schedule turns tough, Real Salt Lake always can find comfort in a return to Â the road?
After two stinging home losses last week to the Los Angeles Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes, RSL will play at Columbus on Saturday. Despite a traditional home-field advantage, RSL has lost three straight games overall at Rio Tinto, including a stunning defeat to a lower-division team, the Minnesota Stars, on May 29 in the first round of the U.S. Open Cup.
Meanwhile, RSL is 2-2-0 in its last four on the road.
"Right now we feel a little bit jinxed maybe at home," coach Jason Kreis said, "and to go away and narrow our focus a little bit might be a very good thing."
RSL blew a 2-0 lead against the Galaxy on June 20, and allowed two goals against the Quakes in the final 15 minutes Saturday.
The losses knocked RSL out of first place in the Western Conference.
"We were on the top of the table," midfielder Luis Gil said. "That's something that we really want to be. I feel like it should be a little bit of panic for ourselves but nothing too much. We're still doing good things."
RSL trained lightly Monday at America First Field, with regulars such as Fabian Espindola, Chris Wingert and others limited to half of a practice and departing early. Kreis said he was trying to give those who played in each of RSL's three games last week, including a 3-1 win over Chivas on June 16, some rest before the next three-game stretch.
Captain Kyle Beckerman will miss Saturday's game due to yellow card accumulation after receiving his sixth of the season Saturday against San Jose.
While the timing is poor for Beckerman to miss a game, Kreis said it may actually work out well for his expected replacement, Yordany Alvarez.
"It's difficult, no doubt," he said. "Kyle's the captain of this team and very important for us, so we'd love him to be out there. But I also think Yordany's been playing very, very well as of late, and it's good timing for him to get another opportunity."
Alvaraz started earlier this season against FC Dallas when Beckerman was away on national team duty, but has been limited. He has played just 113 minutes, including a full 90 in Dallas.
However, Kreis said, the 27-year-old Alvarez gets another chance to prove himself. "He looks like a player in form right now," he said. "So I'm actually kind of eager to see what he can do for us on Saturday."
RSL at Columbus
6 p.m., CW30