RSL hope to fend off fatigue, end league skid vs. Union

SANDY, Utah — Finishing a streak of three games in a seven-day span would be tough on any team. But for Real Salt Lake, they know if they can’t finish the streak on a high note by getting a result against the Philadelphia Union on Friday night (7:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), things could turn ugly. 

RSL come into the game fresh off a CONCACAF Champions League win over Tauro FC of Panama Tuesday night, but they also enter on a three-game losing streak in MLS play. They currently sit in second place in the Western Conference, but with 42 points (13-10-3), Seattle, LA and Vancouver are all closing the gap. Real hope the confidence gained from their recent win can boost the team against a Union squad still trying to find their identity after a coaching change in June.

HIGHLIGHTS: RSL 1, DAL 2

“They’re a team that’s desperate to get in the playoffs as well. It will be tough, but we can do it,” said midfielder Will Johnson after the Tauro game. “We can get a result there, we’ve gotten results there, we’ve got results all over the region but recently we’ve just had a rough go of things. Friday night would be awesome to turn it around.”

Johnson said there isn’t any one thing in particular the team needs to work on, other than limiting some mistakes that have cost them dearly lately.

“We haven’t lost games because we’ve given away fancy goals and teams are beating us. We’ve beat ourselves,” he said. “As long as we don’t beat ourselves, I think we’ll be in good shape.”

The physical shape of the players will certainly be tested because of the sheer number of minutes the core group will have played during the latest stretch. Johnson, Kyle Beckerman and Alvaro Saborio all also logged 90 minutes for their respective national teams on August 15, adding up to four games in an 11-day span. All have had at least 45 minutes’ worth of rest during game action during that period, but their fitness levels could become a factor tonight. ­­

RSL know they need to put the ball in the net. Over the team’s last five road games in all competitions, they have been outscored 11-1. But the team did score twice against Tauro, and even though that game was at home, they hope that momentum continues.

“We’re playing well, and we scored goals, and we won and we had a shutout,” said head coach Jason Kreis. “We’re going to take all those positive things and roll them into the game on Friday.”