SANDY — The time has come to make a stand.
With its brilliant start to the 2012 season on the ropes, a stretch that saw Real Salt Lake atop the Major League Soccer table for 11 weeks, it’s time for Real to draw that proverbial line in the grass.
Having dropped three straight league matches, including two on its formerly dominant home pitch, RSL hosts Seattle at 8 p.m. tonight at Rio Tinto Stadium, looking to end the skid and re-establish itself as one of the league’s pre-eminent teams.
“I think it’s mental mistakes, I think we know how good we can be. We have to stick to the basics and details and remember what got us this far,” RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando said. “There’s nobody in this locker room that doesn’t think we can’t continue to do better. We’re just not getting the results right now and I think they’re coming from mental errors.”
While Real could easily lay at least partial blame on its recent struggles to missing key players to injury and suspension, but that’s not an excuse the team is willing to use.
“They are definitely important but at the same time, the guys have got to get in when other guys aren’t available and they have to show up,” Rimando said. “Maybe we’re not as deep as we think we are but at the same time when that player comes in he has to do his job. It’s a team effort not just one player’s job. It’s a cliché … but we have to stay positive and move forward.”
RSL (10-6-2, 32 points) will see the return of midfielder Kyle Beckerman tonight after he served a one-match suspension for caution accumulation in Real’s 2-0 loss at Columbus on Saturday night.
First choice starters Jamison Olave and Ned Grabavoy are again listed as out of action in the Real’s latest injury report, and aren’t likely to be in the active 18 for tonight’s match.
Real boss Jason Kreis stressed after the Columbus loss the importance of not focusing on the players who were unavailable for selection.
“(The) only thing wrong with having that type of mentality about how important your players are is that you demean the other players and for me there’s no reason to do that,” Kreis said. “The guys came in and gave it everything they had.”
Standing in the way of Real’s attempt to rebound from its current losing skid is Seattle. The Sounders, who also started the season red-hot, have been nearly ice cold over the last two months. Seattle (7-5-5, 26 points) is on an eight-match winless skid, having not won since a 2-0 road victory at FC Dallas on May 9.
The Sounders, who were 7-1-1 after nine matches, dropped a 1-0 decision to Salt Lake four days later at CenturyLink Field and haven’t won since.