RSL returns home amid 'unacceptable' 4-match skid

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SALT LAKE CITY — The last time Real Salt Lake lost four games in a row — before its current streak — was four years ago, at the start of the 2019 season.

It might not seem like that long ago, but club legends Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando were still on the team in 2019, and just five players from the current roster played meaningful minutes that season: Damir Kreilach, Jefferson Savarino, Justen Glad, Marcelo Silva, and Erik Holt.

Andrew Brody and Pablo Ruiz — both starters on the current squad — were on the roster, but played no minutes. Mike Petke was the team's head coach, and current head coach Pablo Mastroeni was still a year away from returning to the MLS coaching ranks.

Mastroeni described the team's current situation as going from a "cruise ship" after its season-opening win in February to a "row boat" now, where they have to make sure they are all rowing in the same direction.

"Coming back home is a great opportunity to row in the same direction," Mastroeni said. "This league is a league of streaks, and I think the stronger teams are the ones that find their way out of these moments."

The 2019 team broke its four-game downer at home against the expansion side Orlando City, and the current squad has a similar opportunity this Saturday against second-year team Charlotte FC on its first trip to Utah.

"We've just got to come out with the mentality that we're gonna die out there — this is unacceptable," Brody said. "We need to find a way to get results and everybody has to leave everything they have out there. That has to be the standard for every single player week in and week out."

Analogies from the coach and hyperbole from the players, but what about the actual soccer being played on the pitch?

RSL has been outscored 13-3 through five games this season, including 12-1 on its four-game losing streak. The last goal was scored at home on March 11 by Glad, who has two of the team's three goals this season. Since then, the team has been outscored 8-0.

Glad and Brody have played by far the most minutes on the team this season, with several players missing time due to injury, international duty, and coach's decisions.

There continue to be questions and doubts at nearly every position for RSL, including most prominently at both extremes of the field. Starting keeper Zac MacMath, who played every minute for RSL last season, was benched last week after letting in four goals two weeks ago. Forwards Damir Kreilach and Anderson Julio were also benched.

Gavin Beavers got his first MLS minutes filling in for MacMath, and rookie Ilijah Paul got his first start up top alongside Rubio Rubin, but the result was the same.

If both options at goalkeeper let in four goals and nobody on the team except for the center-back can score, maybe Mastroeni's decision to look inward is all the team has left.

"It's not tactical, it's not technical," Mastroeni said, "It's emotional, spiritual, psychological — the human being behind who's wearing the jersey. We gotta dig deep this week and really bring out the fighter in us, the mentality that we've had."

Kickoff against Charlotte is set for 7:30 p.m. MDT at America First Field and on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.

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Caleb Turner covers Real Salt Lake as the team's beat writer for, in addition to his role where he oversees the sports team's social media accounts.


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