What once was a team that was unbeatable at home and first in the Western Conference standings is now holding on to secure a playoff spot as Real Salt Lake enters the final stretch of the season. In last weeks 1-0 loss, Chivas USA snapped RSL’s home-unbeaten streak and dropped them from second in the west down into the middle of the tightly contested conference.
“A huge, huge disappointment for us,” said RSL coach Jason Kries following the loss. “We’ve dug ourselves a bit of a hole and made things very difficult for the last five games.”
It was a fluke play, really, that gave Real their first home loss of the season. On a ball being played back to RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, teammate Nat Borchers collided with Rimando, leaving Alecko Eskandarian alone in front of the net for the easy goal. After 71 minutes of competitive, hard-fought soccer, Salt Lake suffered its setback on a silly mistake that could cost them come playoff time.
With two home games remaining this season, both to be played in the new stadium in Sandy, UT, home-field advantage will play a big role. As RSL continues to struggle on the road with just one win, every point will count if Real is to make the playoff for the first time in team history.
Not all is lost, though. The team continues to enjoy the best season in its existence, having been in first place in the Western Conference for the first time earlier in the year. RSL isn’t going to let a miscue like the one on Saturday night tarnish an entire season.
“It was bad; communication was a bit of a problem,” Rimando said. “But it’s one of those things where you have to stay positive because if you start pointing fingers it’s not a good thing.”