LEHI, Utah — For Real Salt Lake, Saturday's home game against the Vancouver Whitecaps (9 pm ET; watch LIVE online) is an opportunity to re-establish Rio Tinto Stadium as the “fortress” it once was.
Last week, RSL lost their first home game in 29 league outings when they dropped a 2-1 decision to the Seattle Sounders. Perhaps more significantly, though, the high praise heaped on the team over the past few months following its run to the CONCACAF Champions League final has noticeably waned.
"A month ago, everybody's touting us as the best team in the region, the best team in the league and maybe the best team in the history of the league," head coach Jason Kreis said, "and now we've had a difficult patch and now it's easy to think we're the worst team in the league. The truth is always somewhere in between. I just don't think that we're in such dire straits right now."
For defender Chris Wingert, the opinions of others are somewhat meaningless.
“We just have to focus on what we do well, and getting back to doing that, and the results will come," he said. "For now it doesn't matter really what other people think of us — good things or bad things. We just have to make sure we put forth a good performance on Saturday and then everything will take care of itself."
The key to success for RSL right now is essentially effort. Kreis has often indicated that it’s the “small details” that become the measuring stick of how well the team is performing.
"We're only the best when we work the hardest, and it's a simple formula for me,” Kreis said. “If we don't work the hardest, we're not the best and we're not even close.”
He alluded to FC Barcelona as one of the hardest-working teams, on and off the ball, and indicated that it's that work rate that has made their brand of soccer both successful and attractive to watch.
Though RSL have built a reputation for playing attractive soccer, that’s been lacking over this recent difficult stretch. However, Wingert said that playing an aggressive, stylish type of soccer may be the ultimate key to regaining the level of success that they’ve enjoyed in the recent past.
“We’re going to continue to try to play the way that we play, but at the same time the most important thing is to earn the points,” Wingert said.
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