Real Salt Lake may still be reeling a bit from their 4-2 loss at the LA Galaxy on Saturday, but they must put that behind them as they prepare to square off against the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field on Wednesday night (11 pm ET, watch on MLS LIVE) – even if something more than the game was lost last weekend.
RSL captain Kyle Beckerman was shown his fifth yellow card of the season in the 57th minute for dissent, meaning he will be serving a one-game suspension for accumulation. Normally much cooler-headed as a 15-year veteran than he was as a younger player, Beckerman let what appeared to be a poor call get the better of him to now leave his team without their captain.
“Yeah, it was a corner that [was called a] goal kick," Beckerman told reporters following the game at the StubHub Center. "I mean, Luis [Gil] hit a great shot, 'keeper made a great save and, you know, it seemed like some momentum was going our way and next thing you know it was a goal kick. I mean, you checked, watch the replay, I think it seemed pretty obvious.”
Regardless, Beckerman voiced too much displeasure and will be left at home as his teammates try to keep RSL in first place in the Western Conference. Real head coach Jason Kreis knows just how important Beckerman is to the team, so much so that when he told reporters before the they faced the Houston Dynamo on Aug. 10, that he was thinking Beckerman needed a rest because of all the travel and game time he had logged in July, he admitted afterward that, "I lied," and he was just too important.
There are a couple of silver linings for RSL, however. The first being that Beckerman's natural backup Yordany Álvarez returns from his three-game suspension for a foul on New York's Tim Cahill just in time.
The other is more a misfortune for Portland in that their team captain and former RSL man Will Johnson may also miss the game. Johnson left the game against Real in a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup semifinal on Aug. 7 injured, and he did not play in the Timbers' last game against FC Dallas.
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"Both are extremely important players to each respective side," Kreis following training on Tuesday. "Both are central figures, both are guys that get the ball a lot in the match and dictate the tempo of the game and both are players that win a lot of balls back for their team. Similar players tactically for their teams and similar importance."
If both captains miss the game the absences will even out to a large degree. But in either case, RSL know they have their work cut out of themselves in trying to put the rather disheartening two-goal loss in the rearview mirror.
"Response comes in matches, training session was good," said Kreis. "[The] response comes and the answers come during the match."