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
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
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
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
“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.”