SANDY, Utah — After beating FC Dallas 2-0 at home in league play this past weekend, Real Salt Lake are riding a high of momentum that they haven’t seen since the beginning of this season, and it's one that they are hopeful will carry over into Tuesday's US Open Cup battle against that very same FC Dallas squad (9 pm ET, streamed live at fcdallas.com).
“When I said this match was big, [perhaps] the biggest we’ve played in MLS this year, I wasn’t only talking about MLS,” explained head coach Jason Kreis (pictured above) after Saturday’s match. “I knew that it would be a positive statement to make to get a little confidence and go down to Dallas and hopefully move on in the US Open Cup.”
However, the critical play in the match was a rare goalkeeping error by Dallas stalwart Kevin Hartman, who misjudged a free kick by Andy Williams and painfully watched as it spun off his arms and into the net.
“He’s a top goalkeeper,” said RSL midfielder Will Johnson, “but there’s not a goalkeeper in the world that goes their whole career without making a mistake. But I imagine he’ll be back in net, and be ready to go on Tuesday and I wouldn’t imagine he’ll do that twice in a row.”
Johnson felt that Hartman’s fluke had an enormous impact on the flow of the rest of the match.
“Obviously getting that first goal no matter how it comes — it’s always big,” he added.
Despite the 2-0 win, Kreis downsized the margin of victory.
“I think we beat Dallas by a goal and got a late statement goal to bury the game,” he added. “But I don’t think we massively … outplayed them.”
In fact, according to Johnson, the victory at home changes very little.
“We’ve played each other enough over the last six months to a year to know what the other group is about,” Johnson said. “I don’t think it changes anything. Both teams want to get to that semifinal.”
Like the altitude advantage that Real Salt Lake enjoy against most visitors, Dallas have their own advantage this time of year.
“The weather is always a big issue down there, for sure,” said goalkeeper Nick Rimando. “We never seem to get a result down there, but I think that right now the confidence is buzzing and there’s no reason why we can’t go down there and get [one].”
In fact, RSL managed to get their first-ever road points in Dallas earlier this season with a scoreless draw in mid-May. Defender Chris Wingert knows his team is up for the challenge.
“It’s a quarterfinal, so we’ve got to be up for it and ready to go,” Wingert said. “It’s another trophy that we have a chance to win, so we’re taking it very seriously.”