Western Conference-leading Real Salt Lake lost at home Tuesday night in the U.S. Open Cup championship, 1-0 to league-worst D.C. United. Boosting its chances for the Supporters’ Shield is the next order of business against a Dallas team clinging to postseason hopes.
“Sometimes it’s good to have a game this quickly, to focus on another opponent and focus on another match, to get the bad taste out of the mouth and to move on,” midfielder Ned Grabavoy told the team’s official website. “Everyone is going to say it, but we need to do that. As tough as it is, we need to do that. Right now, maybe this makes us stronger somehow - that’s really the only positive we can take from it.”
Real Salt Lake (15-10-6) has to get its attack back on track to keep pace for the Shield, currently tied atop the West with Seattle - which has two games in hand - and one point behind New York for the league’s best record. RSL would clinch a playoff spot with a victory Saturday.
Salt Lake has lost three of four across all competitions and has two goals in that span after netting 11 in the previous three.
More specifically, it was an issue of finishing against United. Salt Lake hit the crossbar and outshot D.C. 16-5.
“We can let this thing bring us down and affect our future results, or we can put it behind us and move on, and that’s the choice that we have to make right now,” defender Nat Borchers said.
The good news Tuesday was leading scorer Alvaro Saborio returning after missing nearly a month with a calf strain. He has 10 goals in only 13 matches while nursing various injuries.
Saborio has scored six times in his last five games for RSL, which has been shut out twice in four matches after going 23 straight without being blanked.
Javier Morales also looks to spark the offense, having totaled three goals and three assists in his last six league matches. The midfielder has three goals and six assists in 11 career games against Dallas, including one of each in a 3-0 win July 13 in the teams’ last meeting. Salt Lake is 3-0 when he scores against Dallas.
FC Dallas (10-10-10) is eighth in the West, five points removed from the fifth and final playoff spot. With four to play, coach Schellas Hyndman isn’t conceding anything.
“I will always think we can do it until mathematically we’re out, because I really do believe we’re a talented team,” Hyndman told the team’s official website. “We showed it in the first part of the season. Was that because we were playing more as a unit? Was that because the ball was bouncing right for us? Was that because we weren’t giving up as many goals? I think it’s probably a combination of all those things.”
Dallas has lost ground during a three-match losing streak, but things haven’t been right in quite a while with a 2-8-7 record since the start of June.
“I think our results are deserving (of criticism),” Hyndman said after Sunday’s 4-2 home loss to Columbus. “And not just tonight.”
Dallas is 5-2-1 against Salt Lake when midfielder David Ferreira is in the starting 11. He has two goals and five assists in those games.
The teams have split two matches this year, though both were in Dallas. They split two meetings in Salt Lake last year.