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RSL seeks rare two-game winning streak

Published April 10, 2009 7:47 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Perhaps, as many expect, Real Salt Lake will emerge as Major League Soccer title contender this season.

But first things first.

When RSL plays D.C. United today at Rio Tinto Stadium (4 p.m.), it can string together back-to-back wins for the first time in almost two years and for only the fifth time in franchise history.

It didn't happen last season, when RSL went 0-4-6 in games following its 10 regular-season victories.

In fact, Real Salt Lake hasn't enjoyed a two-game winning streak since it defeated Kansas City (3-1) and Los Angeles (2-1) four days apart midway through 2007.

After practice at Xango Field on Friday, coach Jason Kreis was asked if his players were aware of their chance to start a rare winning streak against D.C. United.

"If they aren't," Kreis joked, "they will be in about 30 minutes when he have our team meeting because I'm going to say it about 100 times."

Not necessary. His players know.

"We better get a couple of wins in a row at some point," defender Chris Wingert said. "We're too good of a team to not having any sort of winning streak. I'm hoping it starts [Saturday]."

According to Kreis, there's no time like the present for RSL to start a streaking that begins moving toward the top of the Western Conference standings.

"I've always been a person that sees opportunities and wants to take advantage of them [quickly]," Kreis said. "I want the same thing from my team. This is an opportunity. We're going to take it and then we are going to move forward."

Kreis believes the importance of winning streaks cannot be overstated: "You win your first game and start feeling good about yourself. [Win] the second one [and] you're feeling even better. ...

"Every game you win, your confidence rises and in professional sports confidence is a huge thing. ... The difference between players' abilities and teams' abilities is very, very small. You have to get an edge where you can and one of those big edges is confidence."

So, why couldn't Real Salt Lake win consecutive games last season?

"I don't know," said Wingert. "Part of it is there's so much parity in the league that, game in and game out, it's probably going to be a [close] game. ...

"It's not like in England and some of those leagues where there's a big difference between the top teams and bottom teams. Everybody is a good team here, and you have to fight and scrap for every win, every week."

RSL comes off an explosive 4-1 win over defending MLS champion Columbus.

"I have a feeling we're going to keep creating chances," Wingert said. "We have good creative players in the midfield and have extremely explosive guys up top."

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Real Salt Lake vs. D.C. United

At Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy

Time » 4 p.m.

TV » KUTV 2.2

Radio » 700 AM, 1600 AM

Records » RSL 1-1-1, D.C. United 1-0-2

Season series » First game

Last meeting » D.C. United, 4-1 (April 26, 2008)

About RSL » In franchise history, Real Salt Lake is 3-4-1 against D.C. United. In those games, RSL has been outscored, 17-13. ... F Yura Movsisyan leads the team in shots (10) and shots on goal (five). ... DF Ian Joy won't play (strained hamstring). ... After the game, Copper Hills will play Lehi in the first-ever high school game at Rio Tinto.

About D.C. United » D.C. is coming off a 1-0 win over Houston. ... F Luciano Emilio has already scored two goals this season. ... GK Josh Wicks won't play (hip flexor). ... F Jaime Moreno is serving a suspension and will not play. Moreno, 34, has scored 122 goals in his MLS career.