With three all-stars, depth and swagger, RSL confident

Jul 15 2013 - 11:53pm

Images

En fuego.

En feu.

De fogo.

It really doesn't matter what language you use, Real Salt Lake is absolutely on fire right now.

Four missing starters? No big deal.

Goalkeeper goes down with injury? Someone else can step up.

Never won in Texas? Who cares.

After 20 matches of this Major League Soccer campaign, Salt Lake is the best team in the league, and the gap is widening.

The Claret-and-Cobalt are on an 11-match unbeaten run in all competitions since mid-May (9-0-2) and are 11-1-2 overall since May 1. 

And it's not just winning.

RSL is dismantling teams with a vengeance

Case in point: Saturday's top of the table clash with FC Dallas in Frisco, Texas, a place that Real had never won.

Down four starters, and goalkeeper Jeff Saunders would leave before the open hour was up due to injury, Salt Lake absorbed a healthy dose of early pressure from the Hoops, before scoring three times to blow the match open.

"We have to give credit to the coaching staff. We lose four guys. One guy is out with a red card, so we're missing five guys. We play the second-place team in the league and we beat them in their home 3-0," RSL's Javier Morales said on Saturday night. "That is huge. We play for the coaches and we play for the team."

Since the start of May, Salt Lake has scored 36 goals, while allowing 13, and posted shutouts in four of its last five league games.

In just MLS play, the Claret-and-Cobalt have scored a league high-tying 32 goals and have surrendered just 18 -- second best in the MLS. Their plus-14 goal differential, also tops in the league, is two better than Western Conference rival Portland.

Perhaps the most impressive part of Saturday for RSL wasn't just the fact that it won in an ultimately decisive fashion, but that it also gained ground at the top of the table as all but one result favored its table position. 

It was the second consecutive weekend where the majority of the league results improved Real's standing.

This weekend, for the second consecutive Saturday, the Claret-and-Cobalt will face another top-of-the-table showdown, with Eastern Conference-leading Sporting Kansas City set to travel to Rio Tinto Stadium. 

A full value result in that match would put Salt Lake in prime position to make a serious charge at its first-ever Supporter's Shield over the final three months of the regular season, especially given that it has only two potential U.S. Open Cup matches outside of the league schedule, avoiding the fixture congestion that has drained the team coming down the stretch over the last few seasons.

Real all-stars

Real Salt Lake's Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran and Nick Rimando were named on Monday to the 20-man MLS All-Star roster that will compete against AS Roma in the 2013 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on July 31 at Sporting Park in Kansas City.

With three selections, Real Salt Lake is tied with SKC for most players from any one club on this year's All-Star gameday roster. It's the seventh consecutive selection for Beckerman, while Rimando will be making his third appearance. Beltran will be making his All Star debut.

You can follow Justin Johnson on Twitter at: @jjohnson801 or email him at justinjohnson801@gmail.com.

From Around the Web

  +