Real Salt Lake’s 4-0 blowout loss to Minnesota United was only its second defeat of the 2020 season. But it was also the most disjointed the team has looked in several weeks.
Yes, RSL had some calls go against them. And yes, it wasn’t the only time the team has given up multiple goals. But after two comeback ties, leaving Minnesota with a loss could represent a step back for the club.
That’s not how RSL views it, though.
“For me, it’s a bad game," defender Justen Glad said of the Minnesota game. "I still think that game could’ve been very different.”
Coach Freddy Juarez said his message to the team was Salt Lake has done a lot of good this season, and one bad half of soccer won’t define it. And while he acknowledged that neither he nor his players take pleasure in losing 4-0, he tries to keep the season and its length into perspective.
“You can’t be up here when you win and you can’t be all the way down at the bottom when you lose,” Juarez said. “You have to keep steady and you have to keep focused on the process.”
RSL heads into a matchup Wednesday with LAFC, which is coming off an ugly 3-0 loss of its own to the L.A. Galaxy. Forward Carlos Vela remains out of the lineup due to a Grade 2 MCL sprain.
But LAFC still has talented attackers in Diego Rossi and Bradley Wright-Phillips. So even without Vela, RSL has some of its work cut out for it, especially because LAFC hasn’t played well lately.
“They haven’t been in their best form, so I think they’re going to be be really ready to go trying to get back to what they know they’re capable of," forward Corey Baird said of last season’s Supporters' Shield winners. "I think for us, it’s managing that.”
RSL is a point behind LAFC in the standings with 11 and eighth in the Western Conference standings. Los Angeles will also be missing Mark-Anthony Kaye due to a red card suspension. But RSL is still expecting a difficult game.
"It’s a little different because they have different personnel in there than they usually with their injuries and red cards and whatnot,” Glad said. “But we’re still expecting the same style of play. … It’s going to be just a lot of communicating, a lot making sure that on the transition we’re matched up well so we don’t get countered. Hopefully we can keep them to zero goals.”
RSL has not yet beat LAFC at Rio Tinto Stadium. But neither that statistic nor the tough night it had against Minnesota is on the team’s mind. For Juarez, it’s just another step in what RSL hopes is the right direction.
“We’re not Barcelona, we’re not Real Madrid, we’re not Bayern Munich — we’re not those guys that aren’t supposed to lose because of all the millions of dollars they invest,” Juarez said. “We’re a team that’s continuing to grow.”