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Steve Dykes, Associated Press, File

Real Salt Lake must move quickly to fix 2-match skid, prep for pivotal MLS Phase 3

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Updated - Sep. 22, 2020 at 5:55 p.m. | Posted - Sep. 22, 2020 at 5:41 p.m.



SANDY — Under normal circumstances, Real Salt Lake players might retreat to the locker room to celebrate a big win or stew in a tough loss, then report to the training facility in Herriman the next day for regen sessions and film review to learn how to get better.

While many of those same emotions were present after a 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, getting over the loss was fast-tracked.

Like the rest of Major League Soccer, time is not a luxury had by RSL.

“It’s not great,” RSL winger Justin Meram confided when asked about the mood of the locker room following the loss, which was RSL’s third in four games. “But the beauty of this game, the beauty of MLS and the beauty of this condensed schedule, is that we have another game in four days. That’s the focus.

“What are you going to do? You can’t change the results now. You can’t change what happened against Colorado.”

Salt Lake (3-4-5, 14 points) will host the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday, a clash of two teams in desperate need of points — even with eight teams from the Western Conference qualifying for the MLS Cup playoffs in November.

So under normal circumstances, Real Salt Lake might be able to review film, undergo several training sessions, and figure out how to snap the team’s current run of poor form.

But again, time is not something on the club’s side.

“Unfortunately, tonight we fell short,” Meram added. “We’re not going to sulk too much on this. We’re going to look at how to get better and get a result on Wednesday. If we get a result on Wednesday, there’s going to be more smiles in this building.”

After Wednesday, Salt Lake will finish off MLS’s Phase 2 of its return-to-play regular season Sunday at Minnesota.

Then Phase 3 comes just a week later when RSL is scheduled to host Los Angeles FC on Sunday, Oct. 4, at 7:30 p.m. MDT.

Armed with a new deal for leading scorer Damir Kreilach and a homegrown contract for Real Monarchs standout Bode Davis, RSL and the rest of MLS finalized Phase 3 on Tuesday afternoon:

  • Oct. 7 at Seattle Sounders FC, 8 p.m. MDT
  • Oct. 10 at Vancouver Whitecaps FC (in Portland), 8 p.m. MDT
  • Oct. 14 vs. Portland Timbers, 7:30 p.m. MDT
  • Oct. 18 at Colorado Rapids, 7 p.m. MDT
  • Oct. 24 vs. FC Dallas, 7:30 p.m. MDT
  • Oct. 28 at San Jose Earthquakes, 8:30 p.m. MDT
  • Nov. 1 at LA Galaxy, 8:30 p.m. MDT
  • Nov. 8 vs. Sporting Kansas City, 4:30 p.m. MDT

Plenty more quick turnarounds await the club, which is also dealing with an ownership change as embattled owner Dell Loy Hansen seeks to sell Utah Soccer Holdings while under an investigation of improper conduct is made by MLS and the National Women’s Soccer League.

On the field, the club has several issues to address: a leaky defense, inconsistency at goalkeeper, and consistently giving up the first goal, to name a few.

But attitude and fire isn’t one of them, head coach Freddy Juarez said of Real Salt Lake, which poured in 25 shots against the Whitecaps.

“If we continue the attitude we had, especially in the second half and after the second goal, we’re going to be in the playoffs. We’re going to win more games,” Juarez said. “It starts with Galaxy.

“We have to be ready. Forget this one. Take the positives and fix the negatives. We’ll show some stuff, those transition moments, composure in the box and we’ll be ready for Galaxy.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. MDT.

MLS: LA Galaxy (4-4-3, 15 points) at Real Salt Lake (3-4-5, 14 points)

Match: Wednesday, Sept. 23

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. MDT

TV: KMYU

Streaming: ESPN+, KSL.com

Radio: ESPN 700

Sean Walker

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