Real Salt Lake has lost two in a row, but the club is still in the thick of the Supporters’ Shield race.
FC Dallas is well off that pace, but at least it has been playing better of late.
RSL will try to avoid matching its longest skid of the season Saturday night when Dallas tries to post its best stretch of 2012 with its first victory in Utah since 2007.
Two points behind MLS-leading San Jose heading into last Saturday’s match at Vancouver, Real Salt Lake (13-9-3) fell five points back following its 2-1 loss and the Earthquakes’ victory over Seattle by the same score.
Maybe even more concerning than that gap is RSL’s struggles when facing a 1-0 deficit.
“We didn’t respond quite as well as I’d have liked to have,” said coach Jason Kreis, a former Dallas Burn standout.
Real Salt Lake is 11-1-0 in games it has led 1-0.
“If we can find the goal first, we find our rhythm, we are fine, and we are not finding any of that right now,” forward Fabian Espindola told MLS’ official website.
Espindola is second on the club with six goals - Alvaro Saborio leads with 13 - but he has not found the back of the net in the last 10 matches.
Real Salt Lake has totaled one score during its brief skid, but Kreis’ club has yielded one goal while going 3-0-1 in its last four at Rio Tinto Stadium.
With goalkeeper Nick Rimando and captain Kyle Beckerman away with the U.S. national team, Saborio scored twice to help RSL defeat visiting Dallas 3-2 on May 26. Real Salt Lake is 6-0-1 in the last seven matchups at home.
Saborio, Rimando, Beckerman and Will Johnson were with their national teams Wednesday, but all should be available Saturday.
Going for its third victory in eight days, Dallas (7-11-8) is expected to have Brek Shea, Julian de Guzman and Carlos Rodriguez back after they missed Wednesday’s 2-0 victory at Vancouver due to national team duty.
FC Dallas is 4-1-2 since a franchise-record 13-game winless streak, and midfielder David Ferreira deserves much of the credit. The 2010 MLS MVP has a goal and six assists in the last five matches.
“I think you can see it just kind of clicks when he’s in there,” midfielder Andrew Jacobson, who will serve a yellow-card suspension Saturday, told FC Dallas’ official website. “Everyone kind of understands their role, what they’re supposed to do, and it brings a sense of confidence when 11 guys go out there and everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing. It’s a tough team to play against.”
Dallas, which extended its regular-season home point streak against RSL to 10 with a 1-all draw April 25, last won three in a row June 18-July 2, 2011.