Real Salt Lake turns focus to stacking up clean sheets
Sandy • Shutouts can be deconstructed in two ways, and the positive side of that spectrum hasn’t been showing up on the scoresheet nearly enough for Real Salt Lake. Through 18 matches, RSL has five shutouts. It’s been six weeks since the club last kept the ball out of the back of the net, in the 0-0 draw against FC Dallas on May 24 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
"It’s been too long — it’s been way too long," defender Nat Borchers said after training Tuesday in Sandy. "I can’t even remember the last time we did get a shutout. It’s been that long, so we definitely need to focus on that. When we score first, the game goes in our favor."
Vancouver at Real Salt LakeSaturday, 8 p.m.
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As evidenced by the recent slide, RSL is struggling to put balls in the back of the net — it’s done so three times in the run-of-play in its last eight matches — but a defense that prides itself on shutting out opponents wants to rediscover that early season form that provided four clean sheets in the first eight outings of 2014. There have been moving parts, as goalkeeper Nick Rimando departed for a couple of months to the World Cup and Jeff Attinella jumped in and held down the fort, but with key players healthy and five of the next six matches at home, the club should see some success because earning points generally has a direct correlation with keeping the opponent out of the net.
"We definitely want to get back to shutting teams out," Borchers said.
RSL coach Jeff Cassar doesn’t want to pinpoint a certain area, he said, but would rather just focus on every aspect of the match.
"We’re trying to just concentrate on several areas, whether it’s scoring, defense, set plays … we’re always trying to continue to get better in every area," he said.
Off to the ESPYS
Kyle Beckerman and Rimando will find themselves on the red carpet Wednesday in Southern California. The RSL staples are expected to be in attendance for the 2014 ESPY Awards at The Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, Calif. Beckerman and Rimando will be there to represent the United States men’s national team for its nomination for Best Moment. The USMNT, which escaped the Group of Death, is nominated for its dramatic 2-1 win over Ghana in the World Cup opener. Beckerman went 90 minutes in that match as well as the next two group stage matches, while Rimando was one of three U.S. goalkeepers in Brazil.
Bumps and bruises
Health is returning. Forward Robbie Findley (adductor) and midfielder Sebastian Velasquez (ankle) were both training fully on Tuesday. Cassar said both players were "bright and lively," adding it’s now about progressing each player in training throughout the week to assure sharpness. Defender Chris Wingert had a precautionary off day due to soreness in his Achilles, Cassar said.