RSL back in chase, but short-handed
After shutting out D.C. United on Saturday, Real Salt Lake is once again in the hunt for a Western Conference championship.
But RSL will not be at full strength in its next contest, at Houston.
Four players Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Will Johnson and Ãlvaro SaborÃo have been called to their respective national teams. Only Rimando will be available against Houston.
With its 1-0 lightning-filled victory against D.C. United, a game delayed 84 minutes due to bad weather, RSL, second in conference play, officially completed its turnaround from a four-game losing streak.
The majority of the sold-out crowd of more than 23,000, stuck around despite the wind, rain and lightning.
"I think it's awesome," Rimando said. "Sometimes you don't know what to expect when you have delays. Walking out there and seeing the stadium packed when we're warming up for that 15 minutes and hearing and feeling the energy from our fans really felt great."
RSL, which escaped Philadelphia on Aug. 24 with a scoreless tie, is now within four points (50-46) of Western Conference leader San Jose.
Seattle, which played FC Dallas on Sunday, entered the day tied with the L.A. Galaxy, both three points behind RSL.
"It keeps the pressure on the other teams in and around us," said Johnson, who scored the game-winner Saturday. "It's very tight in our conference at the moment. There's only five or six or seven games for most teams left so it's getting down to crunch time and every three points gets you closer to the playoff seat."
RSL travels to Houston on Thursday for a 6:30 p.m. (MDT) kickoff at BBVA Compass Stadium.
RSL defender Chris Wingert will not play due to yellow card accumulation, including Saturday's in the 71st minute.
"We know it's a very tough place to play in Houston," Beckerman said. "Now it's even harder because they have a brand-new stadium. So, we'll just try to keep at it, keep trying to get better and see if we can fix the mistakes we made this weekend and not bring them into next weekend."
Beckerman and Rimando left on Sunday to train with the U.S. National team for its upcoming home-and-home against Jamaica, on Friday at Kingston and Sept. 11 at Columbus, Ohio.
SaborÃo joins Costa Rica for a series against Mexico, while Johnson and the Canadian nationals take on Panama.
For SaborÃo, it is a chance to earn his 72nd and 73rd caps.
Defensively on Saturday, Real improved in the second half after receiving a couple of breaks in the first half, such as when United's Dwayne De Rosario rattled a shot off the post midway through the first half.
"Winning games and getting shutouts is the important thing, and it's a good thing to be doing that getting towards the end of the season because that's what's going to win championships," Beckerman said "We still have some stuff we can work on, and we can still get better."
RSL at Houston
P Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV • CW30