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SANDY — Following a month on the road, Real Salt Lake comes home to Rio Tinto Stadium Tuesday night to return to Champions League action in hopes of making history inside its fortress walls.
“It doesn’t get much bigger than this, for sure,” Real Salt Lake defender Nat Borchers told "Bill and Hans" on ESPN 700 Monday.
Tuesday night’s matchup with the Costa Rican club C.S. Herediano is the second this season and will be the last. A 1-0 win or a two-goal win over the Costa Rican club will put Real Salt Lake through to the next round of Champions League play, the quarterfinals.
It's a victory Borchers told ESPN700 RSL will work to win early on.
“If we could score a goal in the first 15 minutes (Tuesday) night, I think that we can really, really put the pressure on them and maybe get another one just before the half and just kill the game off from there,” said Borchers.
RSL will enter its Fortress riding momentum gained off two Major League Soccer victories and a draw on the road during the last four weeks, but its mindset is focused on Champions League for Tuesday night.
“We have to win this game to get through to the next round of CONCACAF and there’s just a lot on the line in terms of pride, salary cap, etc. And it’s going to be history (Tuesday) night,” said Borchers during the radio interview.
The Claret and Cobalt will be without leading scorer and Costa Rican Striker Alvaro Saborio Tuesday night as he serves a one-game suspension due to a yellow-card accumulation picked up in Panama when RSL faced Tauro FC on Sept. 19.
RSL also could be without a couple other regulars due to injuries picked up by forward Fabian Espindola and defender Jamison Olave during last weekend's 0-0 draw against the Seattle Sounders.
“They are massive for us, for sure,” Borchers told ESPN700 of the players who could potentially be unavailable. “Jamison, obviously one of the best defenders in the league, and Fabian has been on just a terror lately offensively, so good going forward, but I would expect Fabian to be ready to go tomorrow. Jamison’s a question mark for sure. I’m not quite sure if he’s going to be ready to go.”
RSL will return to MLS action following Tuesday night’s Champions League match as the Salt Lake club hosts the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday in its final regular-season match.
The Salt Lake club will then enter playoff action when it faces the Seattle Sounders for the MLS Western Conference semifinals Nov. 3 — either at home or in Seattle.
Kira Terry is a sports writer covering Real Salt Lake for KSL.com. Follow her on Twitter, @kiraterry.