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( Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real's Robbie Findley dives for the ball during the Real Salt Lake versus Atlanta soccer game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah Tuesday May 28, 2013.
RSL hopes to overcome early-season woes against San Jose

Missed chances, opponents’ late goals have cost Real.

First Published May 31 2013 11:12 am • Last Updated Dec 07 2013 11:32 pm

Real Salt Lake looked poised for a win last month in Montreal, only to see a pair of late goals erase a chance at three points.

Last weekend, it was an 84th-minute beauty from Chicago’s Quincy Amarikwa that stripped RSL of a late lead. And it happened again Tuesday night in the rain, when Atlanta Silverbacks’ forward Kellen Gulley slotted home a goal in the 87th minute to force overtime against RSL in Open Cup play.

At a glance

San Jose at RSL

At Rio Tinto Stadium (Sandy)

Kickoff » 7:30 p.m.

TV » Ch. 4

Records » RSL 6-5-3 (20 points); San Jose 3-5-6 (15 points)

Last meeting » RSL 2, San Jose 0 (March 3)

About RSL » Leads the league in shots and shots on goal. … Alvaro Saborio, who leads the team with four goals, will miss the match with a quad strain. … The team is playing its third match in seven days.

About the Earthquakes » They haven’t won a game since beating Toronto FC at home on May 8. … Coming off a 1-0 Open Cup loss to the Charleston Battery, of USL Pro.

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Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman’s suggestion for dealing with these late defensive lapses? Early offense.

"Our main problem or concern, for me, is finishing," he said after RSL’s extra-time win over Atlanta. "We’re creating chance after chance. If we can just finish half of the chances then it doesn’t matter if they score at the end. Yeah, we’d be upset we didn’t get a shutout. But we’re not finishing and we’re getting in dog fights when we shouldn’t be."

Through 14 games, RSL leads Major League Soccer in shots. Real’s 205 are five better than Sporting Kansas City, the next highest tally. And RSL’s 80 shots on frame also leads the league. The Portland Timbers are next best with 67 in 13 matches.

But from all its offensive production, RSL has 18 goals on the season. Portland, meanwhile, is tied for the league-high with 22. And the New York Red Bulls have netted 22 goals on 61 shots on frame.

The difference, while not overwhelming, has cost RSL points along the way.

"We’re dominating games," Beckerman said. "We’re playing really good soccer and we’re creating some really good chances off open play. It’s not just free kicks and long throw-ins. We’re doing some good stuff out there. It’s just a matter of that final piece."

Salt Lake will be looking to find that final touch Saturday at home against the San Jose Eartquakes. RSL certainly buried its chances against the ‘Quakes in their first meeting. Alvaro Saborio’s second-half brace gave RSL a road victory to start the season.

afalk@sltrib.com


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Twitter: @aaronfalk



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