FC Dallas-Real Salt Lake Preview


Seemingly unfazed by the absence of several key players due to injury or international play, Real Salt Lake stands on the verge of tying the record for the longest season-opening unbeaten streak in MLS history.

Salt Lake goes after a fourth straight victory and 12th consecutive match without a loss Saturday night when it tries to deal visiting FC Dallas its sixth loss in seven games.

Following last Saturday's 2-1 home win over Colorado, RSL (6-0-5) is one game shy of matching Los Angeles for the league's longest undefeated stretch to begin a season. The Galaxy opened 12-0 in the debut of MLS in 1996 as shootouts determined winners if the score was tied at the end of regulation.

"I think records are great," defender Tony Beltran told RSL's official website. "We want to set records. We want to be the first to do things in this club. We want to be the best."

Beltran was part of an RSL club that set an MLS record with a 34-game home unbeaten streak across all competitions from 2009-11 before Houston surpassed the mark with a 36-game run from 2011-13.

The defending Western Conference champions have gone 6-0-3 while outscoring opponents 18-8 in their last nine home matches, including the postseason.

Now they hope to extend those streaks while playing a second straight contest without starting goalkeeper Nick Rimando, captain Kyle Beckerman and forward Alvaro Saborio. Rimando (three shutouts) and Beckerman (two goals) earned spots on the U.S. World Cup team, while Saborio is projected to make the Costa Rican squad.

Joao Plata tied Saborio for the team lead with his sixth goal last Saturday off an assist from Javier Morales, who also scored to give him four goals and three assists during RSL's three-game win streak. Goalkeeper Jeff Attinella filled in nicely with five saves to earn the victory in his third start of the season.

Morales has three goals and six assists in 12 career meetings with Dallas (5-6-2), finishing with one of each to key a 3-0 road win July 13 for the team's only victory in the last four meetings. The teams played to a 1-all draw Oct. 5 in the only matchup at Rio Tinto Stadium in 2013.

Dallas now tries to break out of an 0-5-1 slump. The injury-ravaged club suffered its fourth consecutive road loss Wednesday, 2-1 to Los Angeles.

Rookie Tesho Akindele scored his first professional goal in the 65th minute, giving Dallas only its fifth goal in six matches after scoring 17 in its first seven.

Colombian forward Fabian Castillo scored twice in the team's first three games but has one goal in the last 10. He's scored in each of Dallas' last two wins versus RSL.

Already without Hendry Thomas, Mauro Diaz, Kellyn Acosta, George John and Andres Escobar due to injuries, Dallas lost midfielder Andrew Jacobson to an apparent ankle injury and his status remains uncertain.

Robbie Findley (knee), Rich Balchan (abductor) and Jordan Allen (knee) have all been listed as out for RSL, while Cole Crossman (shin splints), Luis Gil (hamstring) and Chris Schuler (knee) are questionable.