Real Salt Lake is in the midst of a funk.
Just a month ago, the team scored 10 goals in the span of three games and was putting out gutsy results despite conceding the first goal. But lately, the opposite has been true.
RSL has lost two consecutive home games and scored only four goals in the previous four games, three of which have been losses. It sits 11th in the Western Conference standings with 14 points.
And RSL’s struggles have mostly come at Rio Tinto Stadium, where the team usually plays exceptionally well. Salt Lake has just five points in five games at home. It did win against the Colorado Rapids during the MLS is Back Tournament in a designated home game, but that was in Orlando, Florida.
Given where RSL is in the West standings and how tight the table is — only two points separate RSL and the sixth place Rapids — and that they are nearing the close of a five-game home stand, Wednesday’s matchup against the L.A. Galaxy could be considered a must-win.
RSL VS. L.A. GALAXY
At Rio Tinto Stadium
When • Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
TV • KMYU
But, it depends who you ask.
“I think it’s for sure a must-win,” defender Justen Glad said. “Teams get hot, teams got cold. Momentum is a very real thing. I think as soon as we get those three points, it elevates the group, it makes the next game a little easier.”
Glad expounded on that idea by saying the only truly “must-win” game comes at the end of the season when playoff implications are most magnified. But beating the Galaxy will go a long way, he said, because of what it will mean in the standings and for momentum.
Midfielder Damir Kreilach expressed a similar sentiment. When asked how RSL can get back on track when it comes to playing at home, his gave a simple answer.
“We have to get three points,” Kreilach said. “That’s the only way how we want to bring us on the right path.”
But in coach Freddy Juarez’s mind, the nature of the Major League Soccer season dictates that no games should be considered a “must-win.”
“For me, you put must-win and you do that type of pressures to the players, it’s never a good thing,” Juarez said. “Players know they have to win. I want to win, 100 percent. Fans want to win. We know.”
Juarez not upset about Rossi publicly asking for more playing time
Forward Giuseppe Rossi went on a SiriusXM radio show last week and, during the interview, openly voiced his displeasure with his playing time. Rossi, who is in his first MLS season, has played seven games in 2020 and started once. He has scored one goal.
“I train every day hard," Rossi said in the interview. "I make sure that people understand my level of play, that people understand what I’m capable of bringing to the field. If people can’t see it and they don’t want to play me, it’s more their fault just because I know what I’m capable of doing and every time I’m on the field I’m able to bring something extra.”
Rossi added that he hopes “decision making from other people goes a little bit different and we’ll be up and running.”
Juarez said Rossi has not been medically cleared for the last two games against Vancouver and Colorado, and that is the reason why Rossi hasn’t been on the game day roster.
“I don’t sit players down that can make a difference when they’re healthy,” Juarez said.
Juarez added that he wants his players to be upset with playing time because they are competitors. At the same time, he draws the line when that upset with playing time becomes a distraction to the rest of the team.
However, that has not happened with Rossi, Juarez said.
“Upset and causing trouble in the locker room is totally different,” Juarez said. “Rossi has never caused trouble in the locker room. So we’re good. ... It doesn’t bother me as long as we remember that the team comes first. And he knows that. He’s a good guy.”
RSL FINALIZES REST OF SCHEDULE
Real Salt Lake got its remaining schedule for the 2020 regular season when Major League Soccer announced its Phase 3 slate of games.
RSL’s final nine games features four home matchups, including Oct. 4 against LAFC and Oct. 14 against the Portland Timbers. Salt Lake finishes its 2020 season at Rio Tinto Stadium against rival Sporting Kansas City.
RSL will play teams it has already faced at least once this season with the exception of FC Dallas on Oct. 24.
RSL Phase 3 Schedule
Oct. 4 vs. LAFC, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Seattle, 8 p.m.
Oct. 10 at Vancouver (in Portland), 8 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. Portland, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Colorado, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24 vs. FC Dallas, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 28 at San Jose, 8:30 p.m.
Nov. 1 at L.A. Galaxy, 8:30 p.m.
Nov. 8 vs. Sporting Kansas City, 4:30 p.m.