Real Salt Lake draws from memory of previous road win in Seattle for upcoming game against Sounders

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Salt Lake hosts FC Dallas, MLS soccer at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Saturday July 7, 2018. Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando (18).

Herriman • Real Salt Lake is still hunting for its first road win of the season. With six of the team’s first nine games away from Rio Tinto Stadium, it may be time for that to happen soon.

RSL will have an opportunity to break their three-game road winless streak on Saturday against the Seattle Sounders, a team that hasn’t lost at home yet this season and is second in the Western Conference.

If this situation sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Last year, the team was staring at a five-game road losing streak heading into a match against the Sounders. They ended up with a 1-0 win on an evening where Sebastian Saucedo notched his first MLS goal of his career.


When • Saturday, 8 p.m. MDT


But as any player will say when asked, that was last year, and this is this year. And while there aren’t many tactical aspects RSL can use from the previous time it played Seattle on the road, the memory from that game can possibly translate to this season.

“We know that we have won there before,” midfielder Albert Rusnák said Thursday, “so we know it’s doable to do it again.”

RSL will have to do it without Damir Kreilach, who will be suspended after receiving a red card against FC Dallas. But with Corey Baird and Sam Johnson back from national team duty, there are solutions for that.

Baird said there is plenty to take from RSL’s last road game against the Sounders.

“I think it shows what we need to do and what we need to accomplish,” Baird said. “I think that was a good game for us mentally.”

Keeper Nick Rimando, who will retire at the end of the season, remembered last year’s win as one in which the team prepared well and executed that preparation on the field. He said it will take more of the same to win Saturday.

“We give ourselves a chance if we pay attention to the game plan and we’re committed to defending and obviously take advantage of our opportunities,” Rimando said.

Inching closer

Justen Glad and Joao Plata have recently made their returns to full training, RSL coach Mike Petke said Tuesday. Glad (broken toe) has been out for the entire regular season thus far, and Plata (ankle) was injured in the season opener at Houston.

But in recent weeks, both Glad and Plata have been ramping up their activity in training. Petke said Tuesday there was a strong chance Glad plays with the Real Monarchs this weekend to get acclimated to game speed.

“I’m excited to be back out there with the boys and hopefully contribute,” Glad said Tuesday.

Petke said Plata also “looked good” in his first practice back.

Tony Beltran made an appearance at training on Thursday, performing drills with a trainer in which he was running, cutting and jumping. He has also been out for much of the regular season with a knee injury.

Rimando said getting some players back from injury gives RSL more options and creates more competition for starting spots. He mentioned having Beltran on the field helps because he is a leader in the locker room, and said Plata’s near-return gives the team another attacking option.

“It’s always great when you’re healthy as a team and gives us more options and makes the coaches’ job a little bit harder,” Rimando said Thursday.

Stanford reunion

Baird will get a chance to play against his old college buddy in Sounders forward Jordan Morris. The two were teammates at Stanford University for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Morris joined Seattle in 2016, while Baird stayed at Stanford until 2017.

“Definitely looking forward to it,” Baird said of playing against Morris, adding that the two spent time together at a recent United States Men’s National Team camp.

Morris did not play last season due to an injury, so Saturday will be Baird’s first time facing his former college teammate in MLS action. Baird said the only time he has ever gone against Morris is in practice.