Real Salt Lake is happy to be returning home after picking up a road point.
D.C. United would likely feel the same way following this visit to Rio Tinto Stadium.
Salt Lake will try to extend its home unbeaten streak in this series to seven Saturday night, facing a United team which hasn’t earned a point on the road in 2 1/2 months.
Three days after a 2-0 victory over Panamanian side Tauro FC in CONCACAF Champions League play, RSL (13-10-4) ended a four-game road losing streak last Friday with a scoreless draw against Philadelphia.
“I feel like we’ve put three strong performances together over the past week, and we’ve had two really good results,” coach Jason Kreis told the team’s official website. “And now I’m really ready to ratchet this thing up, and get us running here for the playoffs.”
Real Salt Lake, though, has gone 0-3-1 in its last four league matches to drop into a second-place tie with Seattle in the Western Conference, seven points back of San Jose.
With four of its next five matches outside Utah, RSL needs to take advantage of its three remaining games at home, where it has outscored opponents 24-14 while compiling a 9-4-1 record.
D.C. defender Robbie Russell, acquired from Real Salt Lake in the offseason, hopes to return from a foot injury to play this game and expects his former teammates to come out strong.
“They’ll use that altitude to their advantage so - even if they don’t get a goal in the first half - they push until they get one in the second,” Russell told United’s official website. “That is usually their M.O. at home.”
Trailing early could make for a long night for D.C. (12-9-5), which will be playing its fifth match in 14 days. United gave up the tying goal in the 88th minute Wednesday and settled for a 2-all draw against New York.
“We kind of like (the busy schedule) it to be honest with you,” midfielder Brandon McDonald said. “We don’t have to sit around and wait weeks and weeks to play a game. When it’s back-to-back you can forget about things if they go bad. The NY result is something we have to get over quick and facing RSL is the perfect challenge.”
Winning outside the nation’s capital has been a big problem for D.C., outscored 13-3 while losing all five of its road games since a 1-0 win at Philadelphia on June 16. The club hasn’t dropped six consecutive road matches in one season since 2002.
United ended a five-game road losing streak to Real Salt Lake with a 1-all draw June 18, 2011. Their only victory in Utah came in their first visit in 2005.
D.C. did win the last meeting between these clubs, 4-1 on Sept. 24 when Dwayne De Rosario scored three times in the opening 31 minutes for the quickest hat trick in MLS history.
De Rosario, who on Wednesday became the seventh player in league history to reach 100 goals, has scored once in six career games at Salt Lake.
Real Salt Lake forward Alvaro Saborio, tied for second in MLS with 14 goals, missed United’s last visit due to Gold Cup duty.