Never settle: In-form Real Salt Lake looking to improve defense Saturday vs. Chicago Fire
SANDY, Utah – Only three times in 13 games have Real Salt Lake posted a clean sheet this season. It is obviously something the team would like to change, even amid the frequent lineup changes in the back.
"We just need to take care of the details," left back Chris Wingert told MLSsoccer.com following training on Friday. "I feel like the results kind of take care of themselves when we do that. There have been times where we haven't been that sharp. Even in the last game when we had a good performance, we still gave up a few too many chances."
"I think we've had spurts in games where we have played really well defensively, but we haven't put together a complete 90-minute performance," said Beltran after training on Friday. "That is something we are looking to do tomorrow and have that carry over for the next five games. … We just need to put in the extra 10 percent of concentration so we can finish things out."
The home side's efforts at a shutout could be hindered, however, by the fact that starting center back Chris Schuler will be unavailable as he attempts to recover from a break in his left hand.
"We re-X-rayed his hand this week and it was actually worse, so we are holding him out first and foremost for that, but he has also had a bit of a foot problem over the past several weeks," head coach Jason Kreis told reporters. "We feel like if we can just hold him out for a week or so to have everything heal up, that could benefit us for the rest of the season."
Schuler's absence presents an opportunity for either Kwame Watson-Siriboe or Carlos Salcedo. Both are familiar getting time with the first team as Salcedo started two of the team's last three games, and Watson-Siriboe has five starts under his belt. So how does Kreis feel about giving either one the starting nod?
"Very confident," he said. "We have to be very fortunate that we have been able to get some experience for all of the players that are challenging to step into roles this year. I feel like we never really skip a beat."
Tilting the odds further in RSL's favor is the fact that Chicago come into the game struggling on offense. The Fire have scored only six goals in their 10 matches, so posting a shutout shouldn't be out of the question, but RSL know they can't come in flat and will need to play their style to succeed.
"They have a ton of good attacking options, so we are going to need to be really be sharp in the back," said Wingert. "Hopefully, we will have the ball the majority of the match and that way we'll keep them away from our goal. … When we can control the possession, that is when we are playing our best defense."