Real Salt Lake looks to bring some momentum home from the road

RSL picked up two wins and a draw over eight days on the road last week.

Real Salt Lake forward Danny Musovski (17) yells at an official after not receiving a foul call against Minnesota United in the first half of an MLS soccer match, Saturday, May 27, 2023, at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minn. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)

Real Salt Lake coach Pablo Mastroeni had a hunch, but he wanted to wait a few days to be certain.

“I was asked before we went on this road trip … ‘Does this bring teams together?’ And I said, ‘Well, we’ll chat after the trip,’” the head coach recalled.

After two road wins in Colorado — one in league play, one to advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup — and a draw on Saturday night in Minnesota, Mastroeni believes his squad has found something it can build on.

“I think this last week has been really great to be around the group and see the interaction away from the game,” he said. “I think trust has to occur off the field before it’s found on the field.”

Said Mastroeni: “I think we’re at a point now where there’s foundation that’s been laid and we’ve just got to keep putting layers on top of it on both sides of the ball. Be a little cleaner with our last decision, take our chances well, and then defensively have the comment from everyone to do whatever it takes to break up plays. There have been some fantastic performances in these three games and I’m just really happy for everyone in the group.”

RSL (4-6-4, 16 points) sits in 11th place in the Western Conference as the team now returns to Sandy for three of its next four contests, beginning with a Wednesday night matchup with the L.A. Galaxy — a team that has gone unbeaten in 10 of its last 12 games across all competitions.

RSL, meanwhile, has just two wins in seven league games at America First Field this season.

“It’ll definitely be nice to get back home,” defender Andrew Brody said. We want to play in front of our home fans. We know the results haven’t been the best at home lately and we definitely want to give our fans something to cheer for, give them three points, some goals at home. That’s a focus for us this week.”

Mastroeni believes his team can carry some of its momentum back home.

“I think we’re coming home at a great time,” he said. “Having said that, you can’t change your mindset when you’re home or away; you’ve got to keep digging and you’ve got to keep grinding. This league is relentless. The most important thing is consistency in performance, consistency in getting results. I think those are foundations that we’ll continue to build on.”

Injury update

Starting goalkeeper Zach MacMath was substituted off at halftime of Saturday’s match after hitting his head during a first-half collision. MacMath was cleared to return to the game in the first half, but Mastroeni went to 18-year-old Gavin Beavers in goal in the second half.

“He was fine. But then when we stopped playing, he experienced concussion-like symptoms,” Mastroeni said. “So as a precaution, we just pulled them out. And again, I think the benefit of having somebody playing in Open Cup games in Gavin’s case really makes that decision a no-brainer when Zach’s not feeling up to snuff. But I think he’s he says he’s feeling better. We’ll just see how you know, the travel goes and how he recovers the next couple days.”