Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis got an improved performance from his defense last time out, but his club still extended a pair of winless skids. A visit from the Portland Timbers could help RSL end both of those.
Real Salt Lake will try to avoid its longest winless streak at home in five years Saturday night by adding to the Timbers' futility on the road.
RSL (10-6-3) gave up seven goals during a three-game losing streak that started with two defeats at Rio Tinto Stadium. The club kept visiting Seattle off the scoreboard Wednesday, but couldn't produce at the other end of the field and settled for a scoreless draw.
"We are looking at the positives in this game," Kreis said. "That was our first shutout in a long time (June 16), and we're controlling the rhythm and the game and being the aggressors like we need to be at home."
Real Salt Lake had a six-game winless streak to conclude the 2011 regular season but it hasn't gone four straight home games without a victory since an 0-2-4 skid from Oct. 7, 2006-June 14, 2007. The franchise is 6-3-1 at Rio Tinto this season after going 32-4-14 from 2009-11.
RSL, though, appears to have a prime opportunity to end that skid as Portland has yet to win in seven road games (0-5-2) this season. The Timbers (5-7-4) are also 0-5-4 there since a 1-0 win over Vancouver on Oct. 2 and have been shut out in each of their past two games.
The Timbers also lost 3-2 at home to Real Salt Lake on March 31 as they allowed Jonny Steele to score the tying goal in the 89th minute and Kyle Beckerman to tally the winning one in stoppage time.
Portland, though, is coming off a 2-1 win Tuesday over San Jose, the team with the most points in MLS. Danny Mwanga opened the scoring in the first half and captain Jack Jewsbury added his first goal in 15 games while helping his club rebound from a 3-0 drubbing in Colorado.
"We've got confidence, but the reality is it is one game," Jewsbury told the league's website. "It's time for us to start putting two and three performances together to really get us going up in the standings and in that playoff race."
Portland forced a 1-all draw in its first trip to Rio Tinto on Oct. 22 when Mamadou Danso scored in extra time. It also defeated RSL 1-0 during the first matchup between the clubs on April 30, 2011.
The Timbers will try to earn another win in the series with help from defender Kosuke Kimura, who was acquired from Colorado on Thursday.