Real Salt Lake-Crew Preview
Real Salt Lake has cooled off since a lengthy unbeaten streak, but taking to the road might help the club get going in the right direction. Visits to the Columbus Crew, however, haven't proved fruitful lately.
RSL will also likely has two key players out as they try to extend a franchise-best road shutout streak and earn a rare win in Columbus on Saturday night.
Real Salt Lake (10-5-2) was 5-0-2 and had won a season high-tying three straight games before home losses to Los Angeles and San Jose over a four-day span last week. In the latest of those defeats last Saturday, the club gave up the go-ahead goal to the Earthquakes in the 84th minute after Javier Morales had tied the match in the 79th.
RSL blew a two-goal lead in its 3-2 loss to the Galaxy on June 20. The three goals allowed were half as many as the team had given up over its previous seven matches.
"We're a little bit weak right now," said midfielder Will Johnson, whose team has a four-match road unbeaten streak (2-0-2). "We're not finishing up plays or games. We're not staying sharp and focused throughout the whole play. The goals we're giving up are really poor mistakes."
Real Salt Lake hasn't yielded a goal over its last three road matches spanning 315 minutes dating back to April 25, but 2010 MLS defender of the year Jamison Olave is expected to miss a second straight game because of a calf injury. Kyle Beckerman, a U.S. national team member, is also suspended for this match after accumulating five yellow cards.
Beckerman's absence likely won't help Salt Lake end its recent scoring woes against Columbus (5-5-4). The Crew conceded one goal in their two games against RSL last season and swept the season series for the first time since 2005.
Salt Lake couldn't take advantage of Olave's score in the seventh minute of a 2-1 defeat at Crew Stadium last June and was blanked 2-0 at home July 30. With a 2-6-0 all-time record in Columbus, the chances of snapping that skid to the Crew don't appear promising.
The Crew, however, are 0-2-1 across all competitions since a five-game unbeaten stretch (3-0-2) and gave up two goals in the first 26 minutes during a 2-1 loss at Chicago last Saturday.
"Obviously, (in Chicago) the ball didn't bounce our way. Hopefully, we will be more decisive in front of the goal (against RSL)," coach Robert Warzycha told the league's website.
The Crew might get defensive midfielder Danny O'Rourke for his first game since severely spraining his ankle during a 2-0 win over Seattle on May 23, and midfielder Milovan Mirosevic might return from a one-game absence due to a nagging groin injury.
Mirosevic also missed two games before the two-week international break earlier this month.