Rusty Pierce

Effort the key for Ellinger's RSL

SALT LAKE CITY - Coming off their first-ever loss at home - a 3-0 defeat by the Chicago Fire last weekend - Real Salt Lake are looking for something to keep the longest losing streak of their short history at only two games.

Although Saturday's guest will be FC Dallas - holders of the league's best record and the Western Conference leaders - the opponent could perhaps be to RSL's advantage. FC Dallas are somewhat familiar, as Real visited Dallas in April, though they did lose that match 3-0 as well.

"When we played them at their place I thought that they did a couple good things against us in spurts," said RSL defender Rusty Pierce. "That's when they got their goals. Overall, I thought that we would have been okay if our work ethic would have matched theirs."

Work ethic has been a huge factor in the success and failure of RSL this season. It had been present in games like the 2-1 victory at home against the Los Angeles Galaxy in May. Real came from behind, scoring two second-half goals, to shock one of the most talented teams in the league.

Coach John Ellinger believes the key to being successful is adding a consistent level of work ethic to the great amount of talent that the RSL players bring together as a team. With that combination, Ellinger thinks his team will win a lot of games.

"In my first 10 games, what I've seen that it comes down to is: if you have talent and work ethic you can win a lot of games," he said. "If you just have work ethic and you're low on the talent part you are going to win some and loss some. But if you have a lot of talent without work ethic then you're going to struggle.

"For us, I believe we have talent. I believe in our players. And when we work ... we are as good as anyone in the league. We proved that against L.A. It didn't happen against Chicago," Ellinger said.

Another help for this weekend's game will be the larger than normal crowd at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Saturday's match is part of a doubleheader with the United States facing Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier. A capacity crowd of 45,000 is expected, and a big supportive crowd can always help the cause to win.

"It makes you want to play," said Pierce. "We play for ourselves, but we play for (the fans) as well. They're a big part of why we're going to succeed this year."

Scott McAllister is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

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