Real Salt Lake’s coaches are preparing for a balancing act as the team heads out for arguably its most difficult road trip of the year.
This week’s eastern swing will cross multiple time zones and feature multiple matches, and could mean more lineup changes than usual.
Real Salt Lake at New EnglandAt Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
Kickoff » Wednesday,6 p.m.
TV » CW30
Records » RSL 4-4-2 (14 points); Revolution 2-3-3 (9 points)
Last meeting » RSL 2, New England 1 (May 5, 2012)
About RSL » Has one win and one draw in five matches on the road this year. ... Forward Joao Plata is tied for the league lead in assists with four.
About the Revolution » New England has only four goals all season. ... The team’s defense has been stingy, allowing just six goals in nine games.
"Right now we’re trying to make a decision based on what we think is probably the right thing to do physiologically by the players as opposed to the right thing to do for momentum for the players," coach Jason Kreis said. "And that’s not an easy thing to do."
But as RSL players prepare for the possibility of playing three matches in just over a week’s time, some are looking forward to it.
"Sometimes the week can get long, kind of monotonous, waiting for the next game," defender Tony Beltran said Monday morning as the team left Salt Lake City. "Especially after a performance like we had with L.A. (a 2-0 loss on April 27), I remember I wanted to come out and play the next game Sunday because you want to respond. It can be tough on the body, but if you’re a good pro and you do the right things and take care of yourself you’ll be OK."
Center back Nat Borchers also said he enjoys the midweek games.
"You get sharper and you don’t have to train as much during the week," he said. "This is what you play for. The more games the better it is for you as a pro. I’m excited for it."
First up for RSL is a Wednesday night showdown with the New England Revolution, a team that has given up the second-fewest goals in Major League Soccer this year. This Revolution, however, sorely lack firepower of their own, having scored just four goals in eight games this year.
Kreis wants to caution his team against letting its guard down.
"If we take anything for granted and we look at our opponent and say they’re struggling in one area or another, that’s typically when we get in trouble," he said.
RSL and New England met one time last year. The Revolution jumped out to a 1-0 lead, but Salt Lake got two goals from Alvaro Saborio to earn the comeback victory.
Saborio, RSL’s leading scorer, won’t be a part of Wednesday’s match, as he continues to deal with a quad injury. Forwards Robbie Findley and Olmes Garcia, meanwhile, are listed as questionable for the match.
RSL will play at Montreal on Saturday.
After dominating Vancouver in a 2-0 victory last weekend, RSL is looking to put together back-to-back wins for the first time all season.
"We need to," Kreis said. "I feel like any successful team in our league has the ability, the capability to put together a string of games. You need to have a winning streak somewhere in your season and I think now is the right time for that."
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