Real Salt Lake-United Preview

With one more victory, Real Salt Lake will establish the longest

winning streak in the franchise’s seven-year history. More

importantly, it would also clinch a playoff berth.

Surging Salt Lake looks to win its sixth straight match and earn

a fourth consecutive trip to the playoffs when it visits D.C.

United on Saturday night.

Real Salt Lake (15-7-6) made quick work of New York on

Wednesday, jumping out to a 3-0 lead 21 minutes into the game en

route to a 3-1 victory. Alvaro Saborio opened the scoring with a

header in the seventh minute and Fabian Espindola scored his first

of two goals just four minutes later.

Espindola and Saborio are tied for the team lead with nine

goals, and have combined for five of RSL’s nine scores during its

winning streak. Real, the league’s first team to win five

consecutive games this season, matched the franchise’s longest

winning streak, set from May 1-29, 2010.

“We’ve demonstrated over the last two years that we can win

games and go on runs,” coach Jason Kreis said. “We should be

considered contenders for the championship. That’s how we think

about ourselves, for sure.”

Several of Kreis’ contemporaries probably feel the same way.

With 51 points, Real is tied with Seattle for second place in

the Western Conference. The club is displaying great balance

between the offense, led by Espindola and Saborio, and a defense

that has surrendered the second-fewest goals in the league with

23.

RSL will also have midfielder Kyle Beckerman back after he was

suspended for Wednesday’s game due to yellow-card accumulation.

That was the first match of the season missed by Beckerman, the

team leader with nine assists.

“We are a team that is kind of clicking right now,” goalkeeper

Nick Rimando said. “I don’t think we are playing our best but we

are playing good and we are playing good at the right time.”

Rimando, tied with FC Dallas’ Kevin Hartman for the MLS lead

with 12 shutouts, made two saves in a 1-all draw against D.C. on

June 18. Both goals came on penalty kicks, with Espindola and

Charlie Davies – United’s leader with 11 goals – providing the

scoring.

D.C. (8-8-11) is two points behind Portland for the final

playoff spot with seven games remaining – two more than the Timbers

– but squandered a great opportunity to close the gap in its last

match.

United couldn’t preserve a two-goal halftime lead over Chivas

USA on Wednesday, and had to settle for a 2-all draw. After Chivas

tied the score in the 70th minute, D.C. still had a chance in

stoppage time, but Dwayne De Rosario failed to convert a penalty

kick.

“As a group, we’re disappointed,” midfielder Santino Quaranta

said. “But if you still look at the race and where we are, we’re

still in a pretty good spot, but we need to bounce back quick and

get back out there.”